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DAY 7: Choose

Product Manager
Product Manager

Choose

This word has such merit and weight.  Why?  Why is a six letter word so intriguing to me, you may ask?  Simple: I choose to live every day.  I choose to love and learn every day, all day, and (because I work in IT, after all) sometimes through the night.  When I make a choice it’s done never to mention again right?  That one choice was made and forgotten. However, when I choose it’s an ongoing effort to display my beliefs, courage, decisions, and rights every step of the way in everything I do.

I’ve chosen to try and live my life daily with the four L’s in mind: Live, laugh, love, and learn. These words not only helped me in any decisions or life event, they are now my core or center if you will.  There is a lot of power that comes with waking up and knowing that I have choices to make and I have to choose to obey and accept the consequences they create.

                Consequences, that’s a loaded word for sure, am I right? It’s really easy in today’s world for people to sit behind keyboards and troll or do harm without, seemingly, any consequences.  I choose to believe that I live by my written work like I do face to face.  However, that is a whole other word, article, and thought process.  (Rabbit whole, yikes)

I feel like we don’t live and die by the choices we make, you live or die by choosing to stick with your choices.  That, right there folks, sums up why this word means so much to me. It gives me a reason to be mindful in my work, to think deeply about what I do.

Well, that and George Jones – "Choices" were words to live by growing up

73 Comments
MVP
MVP

I choose my path in life, not allowing anyone to deviate me from that path. I choose to follow God letting Him lead me down the path of life. I choose to make the right decisions, and I choose to admit when I am wrong.

MVP
MVP

Ahh, Decisions, Decisions. I've heard lots of complaints over the years "That boss couldn't do my job half as good as I do and he makes so much more money" But what you see in successful people and those that "climb the ladder." is their ability to make decisions, quickly and decisively. They own the fact that they won't always be the best or sometimes even the correct decision, but they own it and own the results. That's what keeps them moving and that's why people follow them.

Most people have fears and I believe that one of the fears that hold way to many people back is the fear of making the wrong decision. Especially in IT there are generally multiple ways to do anything so making a wrong decision is not nearly as likely as making the "less than best" decision. (of course there are wrong decisions - Don't push the big red button in the data center, Don't set off the halon just to see what happens, Don't call your boss Bro or Brah unless you happen to work in a surf shop (and even then it's risky) - but keeping common sense in hand be decisive in your daily work and you'll end up far better off than sounding like Eeyore (Eeyore is a copyright of the Disney corporation and I am in no way implying ownership, rights or any other improper use of the name Eeyore - I just like saying it) every time a decision comes your way.

Life is a culmination of decisions.

Your choices add up to affect who you are, where you are and what you become.  They also affect those around you.

The powerful lesson of "It's a wonderful life" is that our choices not only affect who we are and what we become, but they also affect those around us...for the better or for the worse.

George Bailey learns how his choices did not just lead to him being a simple man with a simple life, but they also lead to the saving of Mr. Gower's career and future, the saving of a child, the saving of his brother and the saving of a whole town.

As Clarence says:

Strange, isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives. When he isn't around he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he?

Our choices affect everything.  Had I joined the Navy as I strongly considered straight out of high school, I would have never met my wife or had my 7 blessings of children.  Had I taken my first "professional" job as a school teacher rather than a PBX technician, I would not have the development job I have now, the friends I have made over the last twenty years or even be part of this community.

One man (or woman) can make a difference.

Moses, Wilberforce, Lincoln, Luther, MLK jr and so many others were one man making a difference, saving lives and setting the world on its ear.

Maybe our choices will not go down in the history books or be the legend of songs, movies or stories, but our choices can make the world better for our spouses, children, friends, community and colleagues.

Level 20

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Often it's difficult to choose for fear of making the wrong decision.  The issue with this is at some point a decision needs to made.  Making decisions based on sound data and good hypothesis within a reasonable amount of time is the key.

Level 12

I choose to go the write path and be a better Thwackster.

Level 9

Wow! This thread is already covering a wide range of experience; from the existential to the concrete, practical reality of IT. To add another dimension, I have found, more often in IT than in other facets of my life, that it is necessary to choose the lesser of two "evils"... software solutions, for example (SolarWinds being the exception, of course 😉

Of the options, none are desirable, and yet a choice must be made. Is it too soon to jokingly make reference to the 2016 Presidential Election?

Level 18

...or, "Perfect is the enemy of good", part 2

In part 1 (https://thwack.solarwinds.com/community/solarwinds-community/contests-missions/word-a-day-challenge-... ), I talked about how and ACCEPT-ing (the word for that day) an option or situation which is less than perfect is a healthy response that allows us to get work done, and continue to improve as we go.

But that statement comes with a built-in assumption: that there is one existing choice that you need to accept (or not). What about when you have 2 choices? What if you have a dozen?

This thought (along with the word prompt for the day) let me to dust off an old essay about the need to choose in IT. Specifically, the need to choose a path and not remain a generalist. Here it is (you can find the original here: http://monitoring.adatosystems.com/2015/02/10/i-wish-someone-had-told-me/😞


Ira Glass (Host of “This American Life“) has an oft-quoted piece about creative work titled “The Gap”. You can read it here, but it’s been made into vines and videos and lots of other forms that are more fun to watch – you can Google the first sentence and find enough to waste an hour or two.

What Ira describes has a parallel in the world of I.T., and just like Ira’s experience, nobody told me when I started. So with all necessary apologies and legal disclaimers, here is my adaptation of Ira’s famous advice:

Nobody tells this to I.T. noobies. I wish someone told me. All of us who do technical work, we get into it because we have a desire to make things work better. Folks drawn to IT are quick figure out how things work, but then we have this vision of how it could work – how cool it could be. And we know that if we could just get in there and tinker with it, we’d get it all sorted out and it would be incredible.

But there’s this gap.

For the first couple of years you are just plowing along. There’s so much to learn, and so much to do, and you have to earn respect before you get to do some of the cool stuff. So you do it. You just do the hard work of doing the work and learning and growing.

But at the same time you can see so much more that you want to fix, to improve, to be part of.

So you keep plugging away, soaking it all in and just trying to be part of whatever you can get into.

After a few years, you realize you’ve fallen into this trap – you have done all these different things (and done them well!) but now everyone expects you to be a jack of all trades all the time. To be the “he can figure it out” guy.

So this is the part nobody told me. The part that I had to figure out for myself. The part I’m telling you now:

After a few years, when you’ve seen the whole landscape of I.T. and you know what it’s all about, you need to pick. You need to decide where your personal desires and skills overlap. It might be storage, or voice, or server, or appdev, or whatever. It might have NOTHING to do with what you are doing here and now (actually, that’s a pretty safe bet). The point isn’t that you start doing “it” (at least not at first). The point is that you have chosen, and you commit to that goal.

To get there, you might need to work with a whole other team “on the side”, or after hours, or volunteer, or just hang out with “those guys” when they eat lunch. You might have to start reading a whole other set of blogs, or sneak to user groups or conventions on your lunch hour and days off.

And the job you are doing now, at the company you work for? You should get used to the idea that they’re not going to help you get there. Right now you are this amazing do-it-all resource. If you start only doing one thing they’re going to have to hire 2 or 3 more people to cover what you used to be doing. So don’t expect a lot of love in that direction.

But please, PLEASE keep doing it. Tap into the passion that got you into this in the first place – the desire to figure it out and the vision of how it can be better – and you push ahead. You’ll start commenting in forums, or writing blog posts, or jumping on tweet-ups.

You transform interest and enthusiasm into experience.

And all of a sudden, people are referring to you as an expert in the field. And all of a sudden, you are doing what you love, not just what you can.

Like Ira says: “It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”

Faith in Jesus - The Son of God is a gift from heaven that comes as we choose to believe and as we seek it and hold on to it.

With that said, there are many choices in life that we can make which impact us and many we make that we don't realize impact us.  Attitude, smiles, obeying laws both temporal and spiritual, even grooming, are all choices we make constantly battling.   We choose to be good or bad, we choose to be excited or sad, and we choose to be loyal, trustworthy and solid in our work, as well as our play.   Choice has become so intertwined with our lives we sometimes forget that it takes work to continuously make good choices.   Not to fall in to the traps and be tempted away from being a good person.

There is always a choice in the matter.   Someone doesn't have to be wrong for you to be right.  We need to remember in our professional lives as well as personal to take a step back once in a while, to ensure we are helping the right way.  Do not let our ownership of our IT specialty create a cloud of defensiveness and or temper that might offend, or intimidate our customers and end users.  Most people are more scared of technology than we realize.  Because things come easy for us with regards to IT in a lot of cases, thus why we work in the field, we need to remember that for some its a magical mystery and others are afraid to take a chance and learn something new.  We need to make the choice to be excellent at customer service, and provide the care and support everyone needs even if that care is for us, our equipment and our environment.   And if you have never read Adminspotting, although it has some profanity in it, and it is dated somewhat, its a pretty funny read.

Here is an exert -  Choose no life. Choose sysadminning. Choose no career. Choose no family. Choose a ####### big computer, choose hard disks the size of washing machines, old cars, CD ROM writers and electrical coffee makers. Choose no sleep, high caffeine and mental insurance. Choose fixed interest car loans. Choose a rented shoe-box. Choose no friends. Choose black jeans and matching combat boots. Choose a swivel chair for your office in a range of ####### fabrics. Choose NNTP and wondering why the #### you're logged on, on a Sunday morning.

So no, this this doesn't really fit for IT any more, in fact it was written in what I feel was the dark ages of IT.  We are all in the light now, and what a light it is.  And we have Solarwinds, so now we can have families, friend, lives, don't need coffee, but i always recommend a fixed interest on any car or home loan, unless your going to be paying it off right away.  Just choose to make a choice, before the choice makes you.  

Level 9

Sometimes we don't get to choose - choices are made for us.  It's what we do with those choices that determine the kind of persons we become.

Level 11

Every choice you make in life always has an end result. So choose wisely.

Level 13

Or if you're from Wisconsin, "Day 7: CHEESE!". 

Level 11

We can never see past the choices we don't understand.

- The Oracle

Level 13

Some people believe choice is an illusion as fate decides outcomes and destinies. Those people take no responsibility for their actions as they will state "fate" did it, not me.

Choosing something or choosing to do something, is like throwing a stone into a lake. The stone is your choice, the lake is your life and contains all the people in your life.

The ripples of your choice will affect others, maybe not immediately, but eventually the waves and ripples will make it's way around the lake. The larger the stone (choice), the larger the ripples and it's effect.

Level 11

We all make choices based on our life experience and education.  These experiences affect out life every day, as do our choices.  When I was 16 my Mom told me to choose my girlfriends with some of the same criterion I used to choose my guy friends.  At 16 years old I thought, YUCK!  As I grew older I began to understand the meaning of that guidance.  Lucky me! I decided in the end to choose to accept that guidance and have been happily married to my wife for almost 20 years now.  Thanks Mom!

Level 8

The right choice isn't always the easy choice, but the choice you have to make.

Level 12

Choices have consequences. They may be good or bad. Some people may not think about the consequences of their choices. The drug addict may say they didn't chose to get addicted to drugs, but they did chose to do drugs which led to the addiction. Even doing nothing when presented with a choice is making a choice to do nothing. In my younger days I made choices without thinking them through to conclusion. I think we all have been like that at some point. Now days I am on the other side and tend to end up choosing not to make a choice because I analyze it to death. I end up thinking to much about the what if's, which are usually bad, instead of just choosing to go for it. This goes from things as simple choosing where to eat, to changing my whole world like choosing to accept or turn down a new job offer.

Level 13

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

David Frost

Level 21

Our lives are nothing more than the culmination of a series of choices.

MVP
MVP

And Bacon - we are in IT!

Level 20

I've also found that thinking "I need to get all this stuff done and figured out" really isn't necessary.  Learning to delegate work and take advantage of maybe not as seasoned engineers to help solve problems is a win/win for every one!  This is the reason we succeed more today when using the team mentality.  The old days of trying to do everything yourself or trying to protect your domain or your job (which many of our parents did) are done and gone.  Earlier in my career I spent three years working at Toyota North America's headquarters in Northern Kentucky.  I also spent time in Georgetown Kentucky at the two giant plants tucked into the rolling hills near the Kentucky Horse park just north of Lexington.  I learned a lot from the Japanese and their manufacturing methods.  They had already for years taking the team mentality to a whole new level... perfected it... and then worked on improving it some more.  It was a never ending cycle of improvement.  It was amazing to see giant rolls of cold rolled steel come in on trucks in one dock... and see fully built cars drive out the back of the factory to be loaded on carrier semi trucks.  JIT manufacturing perfected with massive amounts of robotics.  This was in the 90's too!

Level 9

Everything in our life comes down to a choice. God gave man the greatest of all gifts.......Freewill

Level 13

There are lots of positive things you can do with choice (if you choose to choose as it were) but sadly too many people let other people choose for them either through inaction, indecision, fear, uncertainty or any number of reasons.  The reality is if you don't have a plan for your life, someone else does, and it probably doesn't coincide with what you want.

"We are our choices."  - Sartre

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Level 12

I believe you have the wrong Frost, mtgilmore1​.  I think you meant Robert Frost.

Level 12

Carelessly holding onto optimism, seeking egress.

Level 13

Opps--- typo…..

Level 13

And to think I have his autograph on one of his books.

Day 7: Choose

When I saw the phonetic description:  /CHooz/ 

I immediately thought of  “prisencolinensinainciusol”. 

Yes, quite a word.
Pronounced:  
“PREEZ en COLE en EN sinn ein CHOOSE all”

It shows up in a pre-Disco non-sense video from Adriano Celetano, and it’s strangely interesting as a slice of history leading to Disco line dancing.  The phrases in the song are intentionally all
made up to sound like English words, but are nonsense.

If you find the right youtube version, you’ll see what’s been called “the first disco dance video.” One version is here: https://youtu.be/G96luhHhxnI?t=193

I “choose” to watch it every few years to appreciate how daft we were back then.

Level 20

Lololol!  That's some funny stuff on that video rschroeder

Level 11

Level 9

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Level 12

Choose this day whom you will serve.

Level 12

"Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!

Level 11

Humans are choosy. We have to be. Our lives change every time we choose something, and every moment of every day brings another choice.

Do I get out of bed or catch another 40 winks?

Do I stop on the way to the office?

Which path do I take to the office?

Should I run to catch that bus or let it go and wait for the next one?

How do I prioritize the work I have this morning?

Is it prudent to keep bashing my head against the current problem, or should I go to another for a while? Which 'other' one?

What each of us chooses in those and countless other choices we make every day determines how our days go, and lead to how our careers, even our very lives, flow into the future.

Level 12

Building good habits can go a long way toward eliminating some of the daily routine choices. Especially when the more difficult choices are the best ones.

Level 10

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Level 9

How often do we get to quote Rush in life? Not enough, that's for sure.

"You can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice

If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice

You can choose from phantom fears and kindness that can kill

I will choose a path that's clear I will choose freewill."

{Italics are mine.}

Some folks who know me think its odd someone allegedly religious relies on freewill so much. Well, life is all about choices. I do occasionally ask for help from things I can't see but I figure any Higher Power worth having expects you to meet Him or Her halfway there. To me, THAT is where free will comes in. I stand on the summit of my choices so far. Some have been spetacularly awful, some not so much.

thommymac I was just going to quote Free Will by Rush.

Choose to rock on.

RT

Level 10

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Level 10

Choose, whatever you choose to do, or say, try to always stay true and honest with yourself first. Brutally honest.

Level 12

Choose to be your best.

Level 11

When you choose someone or something from a group of people or things, you decide which one you want.

Level 12

I was going to post this too. That verse immediately came to mind when I read the original post. While I appreciate Neil Peart's Ayn Rand driven lyrics, there is only one faith bases system on Earth that allows us the choice to choose AND a higher power that reaches down to us, seeking through love.

MVP
MVP

And conversely you also choose what you don't want. When we put off decisions we often end up with what we don't want instead of what we do want because someone else, circumstances, or just time chooses for us.

It can be difficult in our work lives when dealing with an outage, failure, or some other event which renders the things we provide (networks, applications, services) inaccessible.

During these situations, we may have a business user/users/group come to us in a state of panic or aggravation - understandable if they're unable to do the jobs they're paid for - and it is also difficult not to succumb to the unique contagion that is panic. Voices may be raised, ultimatums issued, and it's only natural to match the tone of what comes at us from our business colleagues.

On occasion during these moments, I force myself to remember - before responding or matching tone - that while this is a suboptimal situation from a work perspective, I always get to choose how to respond. More often than not, I'm able to become calmer and ride the emotional storm out emanating from the person talking to me. I have never seen a time when joining in on the panic ever helped anything. There is no amount of panic in the world that will solve a problem, no amount of anger that will resolve an issue, and no amount of yelling that resolved an outage. Problems are solved by investigation and action. The rest is just sturm und drang.

Level 14

Don’t just let life happen

Live the life you choose,

Pick your life’s direction

And you will rarely lose.

Level 11

In the end it comes down to the choices we make, so choose wisely my friend.

Level 11

Choose WISELY

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Level 10

Right on broda. I like this very much jeremymayfield  Thank you for this wonderful lines.

Level 10

i choose to be me as often as i can be a better person to myself and to others. I really do, want to choose to be the best sysadmin there can be. I pray i choose this right path to achieving my goals.

About the Author
I started in networking and security around 2002 by taking Cisco Certified Network Associate and Security+ courses from Central Vo-tech. This is where I fell in love with technology in general. From there I venture out to internships and started using the Engineers Toolset from SolarWinds which made me wonder about software. The company I was with purchased Cirrus which is now Network Configuration Manager (NCM) and I was officially hooked. I searched out for SolarWinds and well you guessed it I started working for them and believe it or not in sales. That was the only position open but I knew I wanted to be here. So I quickly worked my way in to the support side and became the first Sales Engineer and then the first Applications Engineer. Since I am a very curious person I have since in my 9 years of being at SolarWinds decided to pursue more education. Security is always a fascination to me so I started taking classes on INFOSEC Assessment Methodology (IAM) and INFOSEC Evaluation Methodology (IEM) of the NSA. Then I went and took the CIW Masters for web development and ventured to databases. MCITP SQL Server and Development certifications that led me to a database development degree in college. I’m pretty much a jack of all trades and LOVE IT! This all applied to my work with SolarWinds as I wanted to be able to help customers solve their issues or needs. So knowing more information allowed me to do this successfully. I also dabbled in Cisco UCS management and currently taking classes to venture toward a CCIE (crossing fingers). NCM is a product that I have worked with since its beginning. I even had the opportunity to fly to the NSA to create templates for some of their devices. I used to be the sole MIB database controller so I’m definitely your huckleberry on MIBs and OIDs. As an Applications Engineer I focused on Network Performance Monitor, Network Configuration Manager, Web Performance Monitor, Enterprise Operations Console, Patch Manager, User Device Tracker, and the Engineers Toolset. See why I like to constantly learn new things I had a lot to be on top of! SolarWinds is a passion of mine still to this very day. My new role as a Product Manager for NCM is home to me. Funny how I circled around back to my favorite product that got me here in the first place. :) My goal is to educate and work with customers to leverage our products to their fullest degree!