Leadership Lessons from a Relational Database

As a database professional, I get to work with databases every single day of my life (that doesn’t count all the other stuff I work on). Databases have to maintain files in the file system to store data. Initially, a fixed size is allocated to the database files. The databases are either configured to have the file size to grow when the need arise to accommodate more records to be stored, or sized up to a certain limit. There’s some leadership lesons to be learned from this behavior of relational databases. First, we need to grow. Personal growth is very important in a fast-changing world. Everything else is changing and the only thing that’s constant in life is change itself. But growing is painful. It takes a certain amount of dedication, commitment and discipline to grow. In the case of the database, the database administrator has to decide whether or not to configure database file growth or not. But that in itself is a choice. The decision to grow is the first step in the process. But that is not the most difficult phase. Once you have made the decision to grow, you need to take the necessary steps to move towards your decision to grow. If you need to grow in the area of communication, you need to take communication lessons and practice what you have learned. That is the most difficult part of the process – the growth process itself. When growth happens, you feel stretched to your limit, exhausted, discouraged, and even helpless. In a relational database, when file growth happens, performance of the database engine slows down a bit because it caters to the increase in file size while at the same time having to do what it is intended to do. Not only that, the operating system also experiences certain levels of performance degradation since it hosts the database file which is currently growing. From a human perspective, when we start to grow, our performance sometimes degrades because we are doing both our regular, normal, day-to-day tasks while at the same time pursuing activities towards our goal. Imagine having to work during the day while studying for a degree at night. Even the environment that surrounds us sometimes feels a bit absurd. The company you work for suddenly demands so much of you since they know you are studying and that you should be applying the skills you have learned immediately at work. Like I said, this is the most difficult part of the process. This is the part where we feel like giving up. But once the growth process is finished, you will never be the same again. When the database file is configured to grow for say 10%, once the file growth is done, it is no longer the same as it was before. A 10 megabyte-file size will now be 11 megabytes. The bigger the growth rate, the more difficult the process becomes. But the end results are way beyond we can imagine. You are no longer the person you used to be. You are stronger, wiser, more confident and better equipped. You’ll also feel the satisfaction that you managed to accomplish something. You have become a different person than what you used to be. And you feel the urge to tackle another bigger challenge. And the growth process repeats itself. And as leadership expert Dr. John C. Maxwell says, “for you to be a leader, you have to keep growing.”

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One thought on “Leadership Lessons from a Relational Database

  1. Hi Edwin,
    Thank you for your Ottawa SQL Dev Teach sessions this past Friday Nov 4th. I attended and enjoyed them very much – glad you finally got the display working for you. I was trying to download your presentation material and do not see it on the Ottawa Dev Teach site.
    Can you update it and/or pass it along?
    I may well be beginning a SQL DBA career and I need all the initial help I can get.
    Thanks so much.

    Joe Michel
    DBS- Database Solutions Inc.
    Cell: 613-890-1477
    Home: 819-205-6383
    11B rue Marangere,
    Gatineau, QC J8T 3T4