Now you might be saying “no duh”, because you’ll see a version of this very notion every which way but loose.
But the idea of getting from A to a B you never think you’ll get to, through being patient and sticking at it, is one that resonates very personally for me.
When I started out on the help-desk I was okay with patience.
I was in no hurry to get anywhere in my early 20’s. I was happy to stay up all night playing with systems, installing and learning things.
This “just playing with stuff not caring about time” got me from help-desk guy to web developer guy. No formal training, just “playing with stuff”. I was inadvertently being patient and much to my obliviousness, I was progressing my IT career.
Perseverance is something I’ve learned from the technical puzzles I’ve had to solve over the years. It’s more metal obsession than anything if I’m being honest. But the will to see something through until it’s completed, or its fixed, or ‘understood’ is good.
Not only for your sanity (if you’re like me). But also for your knowledge-base (your brain). And your hands-on knowledge. There’s no pain quite like the system that just won’t work the way you’ve built and configured it.
These small cycles of being patient with the workload and puzzles, will hold you in good stead experience-wise. And will also be good for the long-game of your career.
Now, obviously something a little more deliberate like planning what you want to be would be preferable. Finding out what training and roles you should aim for to progress that ambition etc. But I’m talking to the more abstract concept of understanding how patience and perseverance are really the psyche or mindset that scaffolds your career ambitions.
As the world of tech continuously moves, evolves and shifts half a dozen gears in the span of months, as an Engineer, it can be hard to keep up.
Actually, not a “can be”, it bloody well is.
And somewhere in my late 20’s I lost the patience. With a world continuously throwing new tech, and new and better ways of doing things, I got very impatient.
I wanted - needed - to be on top of all of it. Be a full fledged Red Hat Linux Engineer, part-time Android Mobile App developer, Genius Continuous Delivery Pipeline Engineer and Docker containerization wizard.
As one thing took too long to master, or I’d see the new ‘recommended’ practice I would chop and change from one thing to the next. Getting semi-okay at one thing, before ditching it to learn or up-skill on another.
It was Ansible. Then Puppet. Then Salt, and now back to Ansible.
It was RHSA certification, and then just Ubuntu Linux and Open Source, and then… well, nothing, it just stays Linux.
My point is I was moving around so frequently in my pursuit to learn the “latest & greatest”. That I never really solidified, or built a great level of knowledge in just a few things.
Now, being a Systems/DevOps/Infrastructure Engineer, in my experience, has actually benefited from the fact I’ve gotten across a plethora of technology - not just the tech itself, but I’ve been across the problems it brings with it.
I’ve felt the pain of trying to stand the things up in real, or virtual environments. I’ve bought expensive and ancient hardware that wouldn’t make the ‘asset’ column on my annual returns, just to try and get some of these systems to work!
So, while it could be seen as useful. For my career. For my employers who would benefit from the troubleshooting & problem solving experience. I know if I had deployed more patience with learning certain systems. And persevered through boring lectures, tutorial, videos, to get that golden knowledge. That I would be an even better version of the Engineer I am today.
A presenter was showing a series of videos on how he and a friend were on a road trip, and managed to hack the paywave functionality of a credit card (if I’m remembering this correctly).
The hack itself was awesome and the final stage was glorious for them. But what stuck with me the most was how these genius hackers presented their work.
They showed the fails.
They showed how many different and seemingly “dumb” ways they failed at applying their theory of a hack to this technology. But they were patient. They didn’t get emotional and throw their toys, they persevered. They stuck to the goal and worked through their ideas.
Until, it worked. They hacked it. And now they were legends.
And this is something I’ve heard from some really incredible developers and programmers. Something I’ve seen on the stages of these awesome conferences. An IT wizard would present their work, and it was be some super complex and elaborate hoodacky (technical term), a million lines of code and config and automation.
And they would say “oh, no it started with these 4 lines” (which looked a lot like my usual scripting), and then they would build on it, and build on it, and build on it until it worked. Patience. Perseverance.
We usually see the happy ending. The final chapter. The last hurdle. From experience, and the testimony of others who have achieved some really cool things, these two things have been consistently present.
- ‘Patience’ - for the long term goals you’ve set yourself, and the season going through career-wise.
- ‘Perseverance’ - for the set-backs that befall you. The challenges that await you.
Nothing is guaranteed. But if you incorporate these 2 things into your mindset and perspective, then your goals and accomplishments will find their way to you.
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