Trumpet Sounds; Call To Post

ChurchillThis past weekend was the KY Derby. All eyes are on this one day of horse racing; celebrities come in to town in what seems to be a whirlwind two days. According to experts over 100 million dollars is pumped into the local economy.

I get to see all the hoopla firsthand, and throughout the week can walk down the street from the shop and see no telling who walking down the street on their way to the limos, Escalade’s, and the such.

The Race

Then comes the day of the race. The big race where people go to the track spend the day, and then in the evening for 2 minutes, which has been deemed by others as the most exciting 2 minutes in sports, the horses are loaded in and off they go. Some 160k people cheering in the stands and millions of dollars are at stake.

The horses start off in a pack going into turn 1,2, and 3. Jockey’s maneuver their way in the field to position themselves for that final stretch. Turn 4 and horses are in their stride; jockeys kick it into gear and now an all out sprint ensues. Sometimes there is a dead heat; sometimes there is a huge gap, but nonetheless it is a mad dash to the finish.

The DBA Race

As I went throughout the week leading up to the Derby my mind kept wondering to how closely it reminded me of the life of a Data Professional. Being a Data Professional means that you will be in the same space and many other fellow Data Professionals and if you pay attention closely all jockeying for that last leg to the finish line. I’ve kind of stepped back and started looking at how I was running the race.

If you go at an all out sprint in turns 1,2,3 would you really have anything left on turn 4 in the home stretch?

What if you laid back in the field and waited for the opportune time but come to find out you waited to long and the bottleneck wouldn’t give you a clear shot at the end goal?

Or you could be like the one jockey I saw get thrown from their horse during the race.

I’m finding that being a Data Professional and, to be more exact, being a DBA my journey can be at times related to a race. I remember when I first started out how excited you become; just like starting out of the gate. Then, as you go through your journey and you see some of the Data Professionals that you started out with start to fade. Whether they get burned out, choose a different career, move on, or whatever the case may be the numbers start to drop then it is another cycle where new faces come in.

The Call To Post

The trumpeter starts the call and in walk the Data Professionals, as we get ready to prepare to run our race don’t settle for the being average. What are some of the ways when you start out of the gate as a DBA you can do to prepare yourself  for the journey? I’m not sure there is any one right answer but I can share with you what has helped me along the way. It’s not rocket science and it is not something that you can snap your fingers and it be done. If this helps just one aspiring DBA then so be it; it would be worth it.

  • Community – I was late to this game and had I become more involved with the community earlier on in my career I believe it would have helped me more. I’ve already elaborated on my “Fab Five” and if you haven’t read that yet check it out. For me I looked for people in my industry who were at the top of their game and who I knew were what I considered the best of the best. Learning from others in the community is a huge positive and one can garner much knowledge from others if we would do just two things – be still and listen.
  • Initiative – how bad do you want it? If you are expecting someone to hand you success and you are a data professional then you are in the wrong business. Early on in life I was taught discipline and a hard work ethic. If you want it that’s fine; go after it and prove to yourself that you can do it.  One quote I always remember being told to me is that “Somewhere someone is practicing getting better at the skill and goals you want to achieve; how bad do you want it?”
  • The Craft – learn it; live it; breath it. If you are a DBA like myself then what are some of the things that you can do to enhance your shop? Perhaps it is implementing a maintenance strategy around index fragmentation, or is it disaster recovery? Have you restored that backup yet, do you know if you were asked for a restore from 3 days ago could you do it? How about exploring the Plan Cache and getting a feel for how your stored procedures are acting? Oh wait do you know if you have any missing indexes present in your current environment? Speaking of environment have you documented your environments yet? So much work to be done in this are that a paragraph in a blog post doesn’t do it justice.
  • Ask Questions – have you ever been in a session or speaking with a group of people and you wanted to ask a question but didn’t because you thought it would make you appear to not know what you are talking about. Guess what, we’ve all been there. The end of the day every question is valid. If you don’t know then say you don’t know; research and find the answer that is called learning. The challenge is to continually learn; go back up to my Community point. My “Fab-Five” are ones that continually learn and hone their craft and skill set.
  • Don’t be afraid to make mistakes – now don’t take this point and execute something in production that causes your company an outage and money. No that’s not what I’m saying. Think outside the box; test new alternatives and do so in a manner that meets your shops integrity and criteria with environments.  Why wait for someone else to come to a solution; everyone can bring something to the table.

The Roses

Every horse that wins the Derby is dawned with roses over their mane. Guys I don’t know when my race will end, but when that time comes I want people to realize that I gave it my all with integrity, character, honesty, and in a trustworthy manner. I want that developer to be able to come to me and not worry about me chewing his head off (yes that has happened before), or the network guy who can come talk to me about space concerns, heck why not throw in the business unit requesting some help with architect something out. No we (DBAs) aren’t perfect and days will come where we flat out fubarb and make a mess out of it, but guess what? How did you run the race?

Rest assured we’ll get to the finish line one day. Let’s have some fun along the way and realize that we won’t be perfect everyday, run a steady race, and continue to work hard day in and day out. For it is in the face of adversity when true character will shine through.

For those just starting out check out the advice in a collaboration John Sansom made happen that I was honored to be a part of. For those that have been around keep working hard. Hard work will pay off; keep fighting the good fight.

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