Back in 2009, a friend of mine asked why we decided to move to Canada despite the 2008 financial crisis that hit North America. To which I replied, “There really is no such thing as a job security. That in itself is a myth.” Now, I don’t want to sound negative here but that statement was meant to prove a point: we have to take full responsibility for whatever happens to us.
I was scrolling thru the list of podcast episodes from the EntreLeadership website in preparation for mowing my lawn (I usually download episodes in my phone so I have something to listen to while driving, mowing my lawn, cleaning the car, etc.) I happen to see one episode where the guest was Tom Ziglar (Twitter,) son of the late motivational speaker Zig Ziglar. Now, I’ve been a fan of Zig Ziglar for almost 20 years now, reading and listening to some of his books, and I’ve learned a lot about optimism, sales, and a whole lot more. This is an opportunity to learn from his son.
The topic of the conversation was about how you measure top performance. As IT professionals, we’re almost buried under the mundane tasks of keeping the lights on and fighting fires to get our servers and infrastructure up and running. I’m sure that, on a regular basis, you lay on your bed at the end of the day and ask, “have I done an amazing job today?” I know I have.
In the podcast, Tom shared his formula for achieving top performance. I look at it as a gauge for knowing how I’ve done for the day. His formula is as follows:
I also look at it as a means to achieve job security. No, not the AES encryption algorithm that you may be thinking of. But it sure would help you move forward in your career. The beauty of this is that you have full control over all of these.
- Attitude. It’s easy to have a bad attitude than it is to get a good one. You come to the office on Monday, having been sleep deprived during the weekend because you were on-call. You have back-to-back meetings scheduled to explain the root cause of a crashed server only to realize that another server just went down. And your week is just getting started.
Have I just described your regular Monday mornings? I think I just made the point that having a bad attitude is easier than getting a good one. But let me ask you this, “how would you like to hang out with somebody who always has a bad attitude?” Highly unlikely. That’s why our goal is to work on getting a good attitude – daily. That server that just crashed? Think of it as an opportunity to become a disaster recovery expert. You can thank your boss for giving you the opportunity to work on something as critical as that production server. And, as you’re writing that root cause analysis (RCA) document, think of it as an opportunity to improve your writing skills. And that meeting to explain what happened? It’s an opportunity to improve your presentation skills. You’ve just turned a bad experience into a really good one. And as we improve our attitude, we’re also working towards improving our likability. That’s why maintaining a great attitude is key to moving forward in our career.
- Effort. How much we put into something determines how much we get from it. I call that the investment principle and it is true whether be it in our career, our relationships, our finances, etc. How much we get from our job determines how much effort we put into it. If we haven’t put much effort into keeping our servers and infrastructure healthy, we won’t be getting much sleep or free time to work on something more interesting. And effort is more than just the work that we do. It’s investing our time, our talent (ideas, creativity, knowledge, experience) and our treasure (resources, not just money.)
- Skill. With the constant change in technology, we need to be always learning and always improving. I knew from the day I started working in the IT industry that what I know today could be obsolete tomorrow. That’s why I have become an advocate of and have committed to continuous personal development. I read SQL Server (and anything related) blogs and articles, test new features in my personal lab, learn how to become a better presenter and speaker, study how to become better at storytelleing, etc. – on a regular basis. And it’s amazing how learning works: what I learn today increases and compounds what I’ve learned in the past. I’m not good at automating server maintenance tasks because I’ve learned how to write PowerShell code. I’m good at it because I’ve learned manufacturing automation and operations research in college and made automating server maintenance fun because of PowerShell. I’m not good at high availability and disaster recovery because I’ve learned how Windows Server Failover Clustering works. I’m good at it because I’ve learned how to manage priorities and apply those principles in HA/DR. Of course, improving our skill does not come without putting effort into it.
Now, I started this blog post by saying that there is no such thing as job security. That’s because we cannot control what happens to us. Our circumstances change, our economy changes and what seems to be a stable and successful career today may be gone tomorrow. But if we take control of our attitude, our efforts and our skill, there’s no limit to what we can accomplish. And you can end your day evaluating whether or not you’ve done a great job. The beauty of this is that, if today was not the day we hoped for, we have tomorrow to start al over again.
To listen to the entire EntreLeadership podcast with Tom Ziglar, click here (or just play the embedded media player below.) I’m sure you’ll get a ton more of insights about implementing AES than what I’ve already shared with you.