Don’t be a part of the COVID-19 statistic…

I’m monitoring the news everyday, something that I don’t really do regularly. I’m reading about the number of COVID-19 cases, fatalities, and recoveries here in the Philippines and around the world. Seeing the numbers can be discouraging. Even more discouraging is how people interpret those numbers based on what they’ve read on the news or social media. These numbers are causing people to panic, to be afraid, to be stressed out, to be anxious. And I can’t blame them.

Some of my acquaintances just lost their jobs despite working for the same company for years. Now they’re struggling to send resumes while companies are on hiring freeze. Others are worried that they won’t have a job to go back to after being told to stay at home for a while. Businesses fear that this pandemic could lead to closures within a month, causing more people to lose their jobs. Governments are now releasing stimulus packages to help in the economic downturn. People are concerned about food supplies and toilet paper, shortage of equipment and staff in healthcare facilities, and their current health and well-being. These events are overwhelming and can cause anyone to panic – we’ve never had anything like this before..

But fear, panic, anxiety, and stress are unhealthy responses to what’s going on around us right now.

In fact, these responses can cause more harm than the COVID-19 virus. Too much exposure on the information surrounding COVID-19 can make you feel like you already have it. A little bit of cough or mild fever can cause anyone to panic and believe that they are already infected. Until they eventually are. This unhealthy response is even more powerful than the virus itself because you are sending negative triggers to your brain that eventually compromises your immune system. Until you start to become weak.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying ignore the health experts’ recommendation of maintaining good hygiene, washing your hands frequently, maintaining social distancing, and all the health recommendations. What I’m simply saying is to replace the negative thoughts with positive ones – the fear with faith, the panic with calmness, the anxiety with trust, and the stress with relaxation. Instead of being afraid that you won’t have a job to come back to after things get back to normal, have faith that you have what it takes to pursue greater opportunities. Instead of being anxious and stressed about increased workload due to working from home, trust that this will provide ideas on how to do more with less, that you can learn how to relax and enjoy a different kind of normal.

This COVID-19 outbreak provides the perfect opportunity for you to play offense, to find ways to adopt and thrive – not give in to fear, panic, anxiety, and stress. Improve your SQL Server skills so you can be the subject matter expert for your next project. Increase your value so your company would think twice – or even three times – before they decide to let you go. And learn the art of being calm and relaxed during stressful situations that your peers and managers look to you for guidance.

I’m running my SQL Server Always On Availability Group: The Senior DBA’s Ultimate Field Guide and SQL Server DBA’s Guide to Docker Containers training classes from 06-Apr to 01-May. I’ve included strategies for overcoming fear, panic, stress & anxiety in these trying times. Because learning how to thrive – not just survive – in these challenging times is more important than ever. Sign up now while there’s still available seats – I’m limiting the number of registrations so I can really focus on serving you at a much higher level.

SQL Server Always On: The Senior DBA’s Ultimate Field GuideApril 06-May 01, 2020 02:30PM-04:30PM Eastern (19:30-21:30 UTC) online (click to see in your own time zone)

SQL Server DBA’s Guide to Docker ContainersApril 06-17, 2020 05:00PM-7:00PM Eastern (22:00-24:00 UTC) online (click to see in your own time zone)

The Smart Way to Deal with the Inevitable : Part 1


People photo created by freepik – www.freepik.com

Being on the other side of the world and a few hours ahead of North America has given me enough time to observe what’s going on around the world with the COVID-19 outbreak and how people are reacting. I’ve had the opportunity to catch up with acquaintances over social media and their stories have given me a glimpse of what most people are going thru.

– several folks that I know have gotten laid off because of business closures

– information workers who are now forced to work from home struggle with their new routine

– single parents struggle to find ways to juggle making ends meet while taking care of their kids since schools are also closed

– full-time employees are worried that they won’t have a job to go back to

– families struggle to stock up on the necessities – food, water, medicines, toilet paper – because supplies are running out

We’re living in unprecedented times. Everything is unpredictable. Global economy is falling. Healthcare providers and hospitals cannot keep up with the demand. Borders are being closed. Financial markets crashing. I can understand why people are fearful and in a state of panic.

It’s even worse here in Manila. The urban poor is severely affected. Most people are contractual workers who don’t get paid if they don’t go to work. With the national government declaring an extended community quarantine, those who need to travel to the nation’s capital to work can no longer do so. Everyone is doing self-quarantine and social distancing. But it’s unclear how people who live in the slum areas will isolate themselves should they become affected, given that there are almost 14 million people in just the capital alone – about 1/3 the population of Canada.

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With all these things happening around us, it’s very easy to go into panic-mode. But that’s not going to help. Sure, we cannot control the things that are happening around us. But we can certainly control these two things – our actions and our emotions. I wanted to take this opportunity to share practical steps that would help you not just survive the COVID-19 outbreak but rather thrive in these uncertain times. I want to support you in any way possible so you can come out as a better person on the other side of this pandemic. As Napoleon Hill said, “Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.”

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This may sound so simple. Yet we ignore its simplicity. This daily exercise helped me survive the time when I was in bed for 6 weeks because I broke my right leg. What most consider to be an awful experience – breaking my right leg and being in bed for 6 weeks – ended up being the best thing that ever happened to me 3 years ago. From that day forward, I made it a point to write down at least 3 things I am grateful for – every single day.

It wasn’t easy when I was starting out. It took me about an hour just to write down 3 things. Here are just some of the things I wrote down during those challenging times.

– I’m so thankful for the Canadian healthcare system. I was in-and-out of surgery in no time and all I had to pay for being transformed into partial Iron Man was C$40 for the ambulance, C$10 for my crutches, gauze bandages for dressing my surgical wound, some pain killers that I avoided taking, and a C$20 Uber ride back home from the hospital. I would have paid at least C$10,000 or more had I been somewhere else

– I’m so thankful to be working in the technology industry. Before the surgery, I was on my phone responding to emails from clients. After the surgery, I was delivering my SQL Server Always On Availability Groups training class from my work desk at home. A high-speed internet connection, a powerful laptop, a webcam, and an amazing smile to hide the excruciating pain of my swollen leg are all I need to get work done. It’s the reason I didn’t qualify for disability insurance.

– I’m so thankful for YouTube and my smart phone. I’ve probably watched and listened to hundreds of hours worth of motivational and inspirational messages while lying in bed for 6 weeks. Those motivational and inspirational videos kept me going thru the challenges of feeling helpless and insignificant. It’s very easy to sink into the feeling of self-pity and worthlessness when you’re an overachiever.

I’ve only listed 3. But my Gratitude Journal is filled with so many of these things that I’m grateful for during those times. I saw the benefits of this exercise that I’ve decided to make it a part of my daily routine. Now, I travel with my Gratitude Journal and write down all the things I’m thankful for every single day.

You can do this, too. And you don’t need to think about extraordinary things to be thankful for. Here are just some of the things I’m thankful for while I’m hunkered down because of the lockdown.

– I’m thankful for peace and quiet in Manila. Being one of the most populated city in the world, you can hear the annoying sound of public utility vehicles honking and people shouting. The lockdown has caused the city to take a pause. Very few vehicles and people are on the road which means less noise and…

– I’m thankful for improved air quality. Manila ranks 3rd in the world for air pollution deaths. The air quality here doesn’t even meet the Clean Air Act standards. The main cause of air pollution: vehicular emissions. It’s no wonder most people were already wearing face masks years before the COVID-19 outbreak. The city was prepared for this pandemic. But because of the lockdown, fewer vehicles are on the road. I used to wake up to a thick blanket of smog in the morning that I can barely see the high rise buildings. Now, it’s clear blue sky. And I’m seeing the beautiful mountain terrains of Rizal province from afar for the first time in years. Our beautiful mountains are what made me fall in love with nature in the first place.

– I’m thankful for the people who risk their lives everyday to help contain the COVID-19 virus – the law enforcement personnel who man the checkpoints, the healthcare professionals who risk their lives to save others, the supermarket staff who need to come to work instead of isolating themselves to assist us with stockpiling of basic supplies, and everyone else who are working to help us make it thru these challenging times. I try my best to give them a word of encouragement to let them know how much I appreciate what they do. A slice of cake for snack definitely brightens up their day.

Come up with your own list. You can write down 3 things you’re thankful for before you start your day and add 3 more before going to bed. If you look hard enough, you will never run out of things to be thankful for.

Now it’s your turn. ???? ??? ??? ???????? ??? ??????

5 Shifts to Becoming a Rockstar Data Professional

[callout]Do you struggle with stress and burnout due to working long hours and weekends handling oncall duties? Is work slowly taking over your personal life? Do you feel stuck in your job thinking that you can achieve more than just handling tickets and responding to incidents? Do you secretly wish that you could get fulfillment and satisfaction from the work that you do beyond just managing and analyzing data? [/callout]

I had the amazing opportunity to do a presentation for the PASS DBA Fundamentals Virtual Chapter last week. In the past, I usually talked about SQL Server, specifically around high availability and disaster recovery. Besides, that’s my key area of expertise and I want the community to learn a lot from my experiences. In fact, I also try my best to do presentations for the PASS HA/DR Virtual Chapter.

However, the one thing that I’ve been doing ever since I got involved in the SQL Server community is focus on professional development. I’m a big believer in developing soft skills alongside the technical skills. Almost all of my presentations at the PASS Summit are about professional development.

So, when the chapter leaders of the DBA Fundamentals VC asked me to do a session, I suggested doing a professional development topic instead of the usual technical topics. This year alone, I’ve had the opportunity to talk to almost a hundred database administrators, system engineers, even developers thru my consulting projects, training classes and presentations at events and conferences. I found a common thread in my conversations: IT professionals are suffering. Despite being in an industry known for technological advancements and high-paying jobs, a lot of us are suffering. We’re feeling stuck in a job that we’re starting to (or maybe already) hate, a schedule that causes us to miss special family events, overworked, over-stressed, unhealthy, etc.

If this sounds like you, then, watch the video recording of my presentation.

However, be warned…

Because when you hear these five (5) shifts, you might just get a little upset with yourself.

Especially since these will be so obvious once you hear them.

[youtube id=”D7CLf5SskU8″]

The R.E.S.T. for SUCCESS

[callout]This blog post is the fourth in a series that covers the four (4) things that you need to propel you towards success, both in business and in life. They were taken from my journal entries back in 2016.[/callout]

TRUST

 

There’s a reason you’re at your job today. It’s the same reason why you were able to swipe your credit card to purchase something from the store the other day. Or why you can drive a car.

That’s because somebody trusted you with something.

Your current employer trusted you to do your job well. The store you bought from trusted the credit card company to pay them for your purchase (the credit card company also trusted you to pay your bills). Your local government agency trusted you to drive safely and responsibly.

Trust is a very important word that has taken you to where you are today. You have built credibility over time that allowed others to trust you. But trust is just one aspect of what I call The H.I.T. to Success (see, I just threw in another acronym).

Honesty

The transparency. The truthfulness. The willingness to communicate what you’re feeling or thinking even when it’s uncomfortable or contrary to popular belief.

I recall several years ago at a Microsoft MVP Summit discussion, the senior Microsoft executives were honest enough to admit that “they don’t know everything and that they are willing to try new things.” Everyone in the room applauded, not because what the executives said was exciting. In fact, it  was counter-intuitive to how we perceive executives of large corporations. It was because they were honest about their own experiences.

I tell potential customers when on sales calls that “they don’t need my services” if, based on the initial conversations, I felt that they really don’t. I tell customers not to upgrade to the latest and greatest version of SQL Server if I don’t see a benefit to the business (for example, they just recently did a massive upgrade project). And I tell customers what the “real” problems are, not those that are “perceived” as problems.

One of my favourite stories that I share about honesty was when we, at my previous job, were trying to win a SharePoint upgrade project for a global financial company. The VP of IT Operations for the potential customer hated us and the idea of outsourcing. I told the sales guy to bring me in on the next sales call but be ready for whatever it is that will come out of the conversation.

We had the VP and several of his technical staff during the sales call. He started asking about guarantees: “Can you guarantee 100% success rate?” “Can you guarantee 100% on-time and on-schedule delivery of the project?” I asked for permission to respond. “Sir, we cannot guarantee you anything. Not 100% success rate nor a 100% on-time and on-schedule delivery. And I believe nobody can guarantee you anything. Not even your insurance company. But here’s what I can guarantee you. I can guarantee you my word. Because I will only tell you what I can and cannot do. If that is not good enough for you, then, I believe we’re not the right service provider. What I can do is to ask my contacts if they know anyone who can deliver on your demands.”

Everyone on the room was shocked when they heard me say that. The sales guy responsible for the account was starting to regret that he brought me on the call. I told him that I was just being honest. Besides, there is no way I would get my team to deliver on a promise that I know we cannot deliver.

We ended up winning the contract. I ended up working on that project.

Integrity

The courage to do the right thing all the time, regardless of the outcome. The ability to consistently align our actions with our words. Being honest with customers can potentially have negative outcomes. Like that SharePoint upgrade project. That was “almost a quarter of a million dollars” worth of contract potentially lost if the customer didn’t sign. When I had to return the payment from one of my course subscribers because I told him he would get it for free. When I told my former employer that they overpaid me my salary. And when one of my recent consulting projects accidentally sent me more payments last month than what was stated in the contract.

Even for small things such as the grocery clerk mistakenly not charging me for an item. Or that restaurant server that gave me more change than she needed to.

If you exercise integrity and honesty in the small things, it would be easier to do it with big ticket items like that SharePoint upgrade contract.

Trust

This is a by-product of exercising both honesty and integrity.

It’s good for personal relationships…and business, too.

I’ve had the amazing opportunity to re-connect with friends in the SQL Server community at events like the PASS and MVP Summits. But beyond the usual hugs and high-fives, I felt privileged that some of them chose to share their personal struggles with me – deciding whether or not to pursue independent consulting because of the fear of the unknown, challenges with family and relationships, pursuing to relocate to start a new job, recovering from surgeries, etc.

I regularly review my previous and existing contracts. All of them were a by-product of referrals and introductions. That’s the power of trust. Because trust is the foundation of successful individuals and organizations. Because people will only do business with people that they know, like and trust – what I call the KLT Factor.

True Independence

Philippines_flag

Courtesy of Wikipedia

Today, the Philippines is celebrating its 120th national independence day. Filipinos worldwide are commemorating the day when our forefathers have fought and declared freedom from colonial rule. But what does this really mean to us in this generation? While we no longer have to worry so much about fighting for our national freedom, we need to constantly fight for our freedom to

  • maintain a positive attitude in the midst of negativity
  • make tough financial decisions to be free from debt
  • work hard to pursue the dreams we’ve always had
  • exercise to keep ourselves fit
  • continuously learn new things and develop our skills
  • stop, pause and slow down in today’s fast-paced lifestyle
  • make and maintain meaningful relationships that last

The battle for our country’s freedom and independence may have ended more than a century ago. However, we are fighting a different one today – one that demands more of our time, commitment and heart. True independence is simply a reminder that we need to constantly be vigilant and intentional about living the life that was meant for us.

Happy Independence Day to all Filipinos! Mabuhay!