180 – Is It Time For A Turnaround?

Changing-DirectionsWhat needs to change? The challenge to explore is are there things in your current day to day that needs to change? Maybe there are some habits, things, processes that need to be turned around. One of the most difficult things about turning around in my mind is acknowledging the fact that you were actually going the wrong way. What….we make mistakes…..nope, never, nuh uh. Admitting to that is not often an easy task.

We may uncover some inefficiencies in your processes at work, we might discover that the direction we’ve been heading in leads to a dead end, or we may even get to that point where we say, “yeah it’s time for a turn around”. It’s then you begin to start to look for that exit ramp; you look for the place where you can turn your flicker (turn signal for some of you) on so you can get off the journey you are on and go a different route.

How do you turn around? Sometimes our pride makes it hard in admitting the road we have been on isn’t the right road we should be taking. We don’t like using the word humble because it makes you feel vulnerable or weak. In my past experiences in technology, and I’ve been doing this now for 18 years is that there is usually always something we (I) could have been doing better.

The path you are on may feel right and other people are taking it, and because it feels right it is unnatural to do a 180; a different direction than what others are doing – it’s not natural.

When is the last time you yourself have said the words I’m sorry? If you haven’t in a while then yeah it’s unnatural. C’mon you know what I’m talking about. You run into these people everywhere; the ones that think their way is always the right way. They call you stupid or point out your mistakes 24/7 telling you how ignorant you are. Or you run into someone who says you won’t be worth anything why are you even trying. Entertain me for a minute and what if that same person did a 180; they didn’t give you a heads up and came up to you and told you that they were sorry. It’s a different road.

This is all well and good Chris but what about you? Ha, well my friend I’ve been taken several exit ramps over the years to turn around. Both professionally and personally. This post is more on the technical side of the house so, there are some things that maybe we can do differently in our day to day work that may cause us a 180-degree turnaround.

  • Backup plans
  • Maintenance
  • Life Cycle Management
  • Documentation (sigh, yeah I need to look at this one)
  • Platform Upgrades
  • Communication (this could be a topic in and of itself and in my mind should be a continual work in progress)
  • Hiring guidelines
  • Career Pathing
  • The security model for databases
  • Disaster Recovery

The above is not an all-inclusive list but it’s a start. Some of the ways that have helped me over the years and may help you in tackling such an initiative are:

Think Progress, not perfection  – this is a big deal because if you are like me you’d like everything to be perfect. You may find yourself using the term “Never Again”. I challenge you to let go of that mentality and you claim victory one day at a time.  If you mess up one day; and you will. It will be okay. You can’t change yesterday, but today is a new beginning.

Think future, not past – yes the past is important because it is full of lessons learned. With that said the past can’t keep you chained; instead focus on the future of where you are going; where your team is going, and where your shop is going.

Think training, not trying – this may sound weird coming from me because I do believe you should try. That’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m focused on training yourself for the tasks at hand. Example; if I wanted to go try for the Olympics and I go out and try my chances of succeeding aren’t very high. Why? cause I haven’t trained for it. Then if I look at my day job at the shop if I am trying to do something without training for it am I being efficient enough?

So, I ask this question – is it time for a turnaround? I get to work with a lot of tech people locally, regionally, nationally, and globally. I hear a lot that this would have been nice to know a long time ago and it’s too late now. I’m too far in my career. You don’t want to take that exit ramp because of the unknown. My own personal opinion it’s never too late to make a turnaround.

Now I don’t know the road you’ve been on I can only speak for myself. All I am presenting here is that if you are at a point where you know there needs to be a turn around don’t be afraid to take it. Keep fighting the good fight and make a difference wherever you are.

Few Of My Favorite Articles From Others

I enjoy getting viewpoints by others in the community, the other day I sat down and started to ponder on some of the articles I’ve read that have either helped me along my way and career or have sparked me to think about how I would apply what I read to an issue I was having.

Below are 5 articles written by others in the community that I’ve read over time that have helped me; they are in no particular order and I’ll do my best to give a brief synopsis of what each represent are:

Chris Shaw – Utility Databases –  this topic is geared toward having a utility database at your disposal as a DBA. The link is for Chris’ demo; I first heard this topic at PASS 2011, made so much sense to me to have a database at your disposal to keep as a repository to report off of and trend. This idea sparked other ideas which has lead to a full blown monitoring solution for me.

Adam Machanic – sp_WhoIsActive – I am going to take the blurb directly from Adam’s site. If you don’t have this tool I recommend getting it. “Who is Active? is a comprehensive server activity stored procedure based on the SQL Server 2005 and 2008 dynamic management views (DMVs). Think of it as sp_who2 on a hefty dose of anabolic steroids.~ Adam Machanic”. I highly recommend checking this one out

Glenn Berry – Diagnostic Query – The link will take you to different SQL versions of his diagnostic queries. These have helped me tremendously throughout my time as a DBA.

Brent Ozar – sp_Blitz – I enjoy reading from Brent’s outfit. If you have never been to his blog you should check it out. Jeremiah Peschka, Kendra Little, and Jes Borland have some great stuff they blog about. When I switched jobs I used Brent’s “free” utility to help with me learning what the servers were and what I was dealing with. For me this was a life saver. I give Brent and his team credit on this one.

John Sansom – How To Become A DBA – in this awesome article I liked John’s “How to become an outstanding DBA section”

I have many more articles that I will share periodically but these are just some to start with that I think from my standpoint have helped me. Hope you can get as much out of them as I have……….I’m tempted to just go ahead and start doing something like this monthly or weekly haven’t decided yet.

Have a good one!