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Day 1: Learn

Level 18

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Last year I posted a question on GeekSpeak, asking what it was about what they knew or did which defined them - in their own mind - as a particular kind of IT Pro.

The discussion which followed was exciting and enlightening and left a deep impression on me.

Once of the things that really struck me was how learning, rather than existing knowledge, was a common thread among most of the comments. So many people expressed an almost ravenous hunger for new information, for the chance to acquire new skills.

Maybe that's what sets IT Pros apart from other professions. Or maybe that shows the kind of personality who is drawn into a career in IT in the first place. Is it nature, or nurture?

There's another hidden nugget in all the comments: a preponderance of folks who indicated that teaching - whether formal or not - was part of what defined them as a "pro".

Why was that important? Because in some languages (Hebrew among them), the word "to learn" is identical to the word "to teach". The only thing that changes is the directionality of it (do you teach me, or to I teach you?) The importance of that concept can't be understated:

In order to learn, one must also be committed to teaching. And in order to teach, one must be prepared to learn.

79 Comments
Product Manager
Product Manager

learning consistantly has given me confidence and allowed me to find my voice.  The abundance  knowledge and tools learned allow me to make better educated decision that guide my life.

Level 12

Lifelong

Effort to

Acquire

Real

kNowledge

(Sorry, had to stretch it a bit with the k, but at least the word begins phonetically with an N sound.  English is a quaint and sometimes harsh language.)

The ability to learn is in my opinion one of the greatest tools in the kit for today’s IT professional. It is the ability to adapt and change to a world that is nowhere near static.  It is the skill to not just master a task but understand the concept as well.

I was blessed in that my first “adult” job was working for a mom and pop PBX company that did not specialize in just one or two PBX’s or key systems, but would gladly accept a call from any customer with any equipment.  This was in the days long before Google and about the time I laughed at one of my college professors when he was speaking of the emerging world of the internet (this was before AOL and its free CD’s at every Walmart Checkout Counter).

If someone called about a PBX or Key system we had never heard of, they would make calls and find a manual and we would fix or upgrade whatever came our way.  And there, I learned not to just memorize the key strokes or codes for one PBX, but understand how all PBX’s worked and therefore I could work on all PBX’s.

As Larry Paige says in his book “How Google Works”, “

if you are hiring a software engineer and all your code is written in a certain language, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should hire an expert in that language.  You should hire the best engineer you can find, regardless of her coding preference, because if she’s the best she can down enough Java to C how the Python Go.”

We have more access to more information, more readily available than any generation before us and yet we have produced some of the most technologically illiterate people since the invention of technology.

Without expending a dime with sites like thenewboston.com and EDx, you can take courses in programming languages, SQL and even the Art of Gamification.

Using these tools, we can not only exceed in our craft but also our personal endeavors.

Using YouTube, I have fixed my wife’s van and learned to improve my disc golf game.  Using The New Boston, I have learned SQL, Android Programming and Java.  Using the Google, I have mastered PowerShell.

The tools are out there. The question is “Is the desire and ability to learn inside of us?”

And I am trying to pass on the gift of learning.  Below are two links to tutorial series I have created to help other learn.

Beginner SQL

SQL Simply Put - YouTube

Applied PowerShell

PowerShell Simply Put - YouTube

I like what you did with the silent K.

Level 14

Learn.... To learn is an active process....

Learning is a state of mind. You have to be open and receptive to all that any situation presents to you. Learning is never done. Sometimes the things learned are obvious, many times subtle. The key is that every situation provides an opportunity to learn.

I keep my eyes open, mouth shut (most of the time) and pay attention.

Learning is an active process.   You have to participate to really get any benefit from it. 

Level 20

babies-learn-surprise2.jpg

Do you want to Learn?

You have to want it, no one can make it happen for you. My first career choice was a teacher, for high school biology. Life is full of surprises and I ended up with an IT opportunity when no others were there. I took it and never looked back.

I went into it knowing only that I could learn and I wanted to.

That was 15 years ago, and along the way I have learned many things, but its still obvious to me that there is so much more I haven't mastered. I still want to learn and let that those new skills or ideas take me day by day forward.

Level 12

Learning: A life long process.

   Learning is a life long process regardless of what it is, home, work, social activities. We do it everyday and it is a second nature process that we do and don't even realize we are doing it. Some experiences are good and some bad but we learn from both and move forward.

Level 11

I graduated with a B.S. in mechanical engineering. As life quickly swept me away from that field, a mentor advised me that the biggest thing one learns in an undergraduate engineering degree -- regardless of field -- was how to solve problems. A huge part of that, as I have found since, is learning: picking up a new skill to solve a current conundrum, then leveraging that to solve the next one, often by learning something else. As life went from graduate school, to IP, and on to IT, I kept picking up new skills to get the next job done: advanced mathematics, IP law (35 USC 101-103), on to IP networking. My latest (as you might suspect): Solarwinds.

Of course, learning continues outside of my career: living with a spouse, dealing with a mouse, or owning a house, I'm constantly learning.

As we all know with the amount of content humanity is creating, there is always more to learn. We can never stop, even when 'unplugged,' as I am reminded each Shabbat when hearing new perspectives on the weekly parsha. Ob-la-di, ob-la-da, learning goes on.

Today’s word is “Learn.”

verb

To gain or acquire knowledge of or skill in (something) by study, experience, or being taught.   "They'd started learning French"

The day I stop learning is the day I die.  No matter whether learning a new friend’s name, a new way to configure a switch port, a new automobile’s tricks, or a new IoT device’s “features”, we “Learn and grow, or stagnate and die.”

My sister created an idea that I learned from--years ago:  If you never listen to youth, you’ll never hear the future.

The point of Thwack is for us to use it to gain knowledge of how to use Solarwinds products to fill needs. Once NPM and NTA and NCM learn my network, they can be part of making it better for me.

Level 10

In order to continue to grow, you need to continue learning. No matter how old you are, you can't know it all, hence the need to keep on learning.

That is one of the main reason I love IT, it is one of the few professions where things are constantly changing and you need to keep on learning new stuffs.

Learning is even more expedient in IT security because the dynamics change all the time.

You wonder why a lot of people like, love or dream of Thwack monthly challenges, because it is such a great opportunity to constantly learn.

Thwacking = Learning!

I too feel that teaching and learning can be one and the same. Any time you're teaching people on a topic that requires you to learn more about the topic you're teaching, merely by virtue of feedback/questions, etc.

Level 10

haiku:

Learning more each day

Endless data filling space

Knowledge conquers me

MVP
MVP

Years ago, my department took a quiz to find our strengths (Strengths Homepage ).

My top two were learner and teacher.

Level 8

#poemlife

Less than forgiving on myself,

Every expectation must be met,

All of my goals are set,

Ready to learn all that I can,

Never being the lesser man.

Level 9

LEARN.jpg

Level 8

Learning is investing in yourself and the best investment in life is yourself. You never stop learning throughout your lifetime and you will never know everything. You learn from the day you are born to the day that you die.

Level 13

Learning is fundamental to everything in IT.  Never stop learning.

Every signifcant increase in responsibility I've ever gotten has come because I saw the need for a new technology before we had it, dug in and learned it, then got the job because no one else was able to do it.  The best thing is - no one can stop you from learning and growing but yourself.  Awesome.

Work harder on yourself than you do on your job.

    - Jim Rohn

"Learn"
Websters defines Learn as blah, blah, blah...

All my life I have watched so many people approach learning as a two-dimensional, cause-and-effect, relationship. "I learn to gain X!" where X = $$$, knowledge, a piece of paper, letters after the name, prestige, to be better, and so on. Learning Is Great!

Try this experiment. Stand perfectly still, do nothing but breathe and blink. You'll be learning something. Learning is instinctive and adaptive in all forms just by your brain functioning.

Cal Ripken Sr. (Cal Ripken's dad), one of the many architect's of "The Oriole Way" of the 1960's and 1970's when the team's minor league system was developing talent after talent after talent, had a notable quote: "Perfect practice makes perfect." While Sr. was referring to baseball fundamentals the same philosophy can be applied to learning. Sure you can learn by standing still or by figuring out by yourself, or watching someone on TV/YouTube, and that is commendable if your task/challenge/problem/goal is relatively simple. But if you are ready to take on a life goal then immerse your mind and body to accept the transformation and the learning that comes with. Learning is growth. Learning is evolution and it is limitless.

Level 10

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Learn

Share knowledge or skills

Others learn from your teaching

You become aware

Level 10

I love learning, really I do.  I always say, if you want to keep me happy in my job, you'll let me explore and learn new things.  I get bored easy, and that keeps me going.

Here's the deep dark secret though.  I am crap at self learning.  I'm too flighty.  I can't focus and sit down and learn things thoroughly.  I grab a piece here and a piece there.  I know a *lot* of thing about a *lot* of things, but there's no connection for them.  They hang there like shiny ornaments in my thoughts, but there are no branches holding them up.  Its frustrating.  I need a good path for learning set out before me, or I feel like never get anywhere.  I love going to classes, I love attending webinars and talks.  I just wish I were better about being able to sit down and read and build my own play space.  Maybe when I retire, I'll have time to do the fun things again. *grins*

Here's the positive side to my learning being all over the place, I'm frequently the one that knows the weird, obscure bits.  Ever seen From the Earth to the Moon?  The episode about the Apollo 12 mission with Pete Conrad, Dick Gordon and Al Bean, lighting strikes the Saturn Rocket, and sends everything beeping and flashing errors.  Mission Command tells them to flip the SCE to Aux switch,  Al Bean knew what that was, even if the other two couldn't place it right away....I feel like often.  I know that thing at the right time to fix the stuff.....now just don't ask me to update my window registry.

It's human nature to stretch, to go, to see, to understand.  Exploration is no a choice, really; it's an imperative

-Michael Collins

Command Module Pilot, Apollo 11

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Community Manager
Community Manager

Never stop learning.

-- twinspar

I've tried to live by this simple core belief since I was very young.  Continuing to challenge your brain is crucial to keeping happy in life (and in your career).  In fact, one of my favorite hashtags to review every so often if #TIL (today I learned...).

In IT, it can feel like it's hard to really learn anything new.  You're constantly jumping from one place to another putting out fire after fire.  So, here's the deal: if you don't learn something today at your job, learn something completely unrelated at home.

It doesn't matter what you learn, it doesn't even have to be around a particular passion.  It can be anything as long as you get value or enjoyment from it.  If you can pass that learning off to someone else, then that's even better.  Just don't think that it has to be any one thing - be a voracious consumer of everything.  This is how you determine where your passions lie.

A word of caution:  Sometimes what we think is learning is just a time sink.

For me this was when I discovered Wikipedia.  For a while I thought I was alone in this, but I guess not...

the_problem_with_wikipedia.png

Level 9

Many folks who have heard my tale will roll their eyes and think, sometimes even say aloud "Boy, they saw you coming." The year was 1981. The British Empire lay in ruins and my family's new kingdom, Pittsburgh's steel industry, had been dealt by the sons of Nippon what turned out to be a mortal blow. Walking into the Mt. Oliver, PA Army recruiters' office I said "I want to be a Screaming Eagle!" The recruiter asked if I was a high school grad. Probably since I was only 17 and looked every day of 15. When I said yes his eyes lit up and he bade me a seat. "You want to be an airborne infantryman" says he. Big bonus and no wait to ship out should have set off alarm bells but I was young. This was the era when the Army's tagline was "We do more by 9 AM than most people do all day." Ask your parents if you don't believe me. That advertising campaign quickly bombed but I am straying a bit. Years later I ended up attending and graduating from two or three of the schools seemingly every drunk proclaims he went to in any crappy bar in the US. That was years later. My first 30 days were absolute hell. I was an underweight 17 year old acid head who had a budding drug and alcohol problem and didn't know it. 3rd platoon of my training company (D-7-1 who could forget?) were all guys with the basic airborne course in our contracts. Apparently this was reserved for bad asses of which I felt kinship with Kafka's belief I was a fraud there and would soon be unmasked. At the time it seemed the entire infantry was made up of jerks from Dogpatch, Alabama or some town in Texas I never heard of. I was determined to make it. Sometimes I took it a day at at time, sometimes and hour at a time. I had paired up with a wild man from San Antonio who became the company mascot. We were going through the confidence course the 1st of many times. It’s not an obstacle course if you are wondering. It is to build some confidence in my skinny, tired, scared butt. We hit one where I just froze. I go into too many details sometimes but I don't know how many vets who possibly read this. Regardless of your MOS, in basic training while waiting to climb a cargo net or knotted rope, you ran in place. So this guy from San Antonio is trying to talk me through it and the guys queuing up behind me were all yelling not very flattering nor encouraging things at me. I had my eyes open and was telling my body to go but it's betrayal to me was made by shaking and me holding on for dear life. Then the catalyst happens. I hear the chaplain, the bleeding chaplain yelling at me! He didn't know any of us let alone our names. "Son, there are times when you are going to be very afraid but if you do not move your buddies are going to die!" In basic or any harassment filled school you become the center of not good attention when you do something silly like just dropping your rifle. Soon enough someone else will pull something and then you are blissfully released form the spotlight. So here I am with the chaplain telling me to grow a set. I really thought to myself "I would rather DIE than have the chaplain calling me a coward." So I went through unscathed as it turned out. When I got down the look on my face shut up the insults from nearby. Then I saw our senior drill SSG D.D. Hermann strolling towards me. My idol, with his Ranger tab, Pathfinder badge, Safety Jump Wings, and eyes that blazed intelligent fearlessness was heading my way. I was still a kid and felt my eyes sting as a sob began to form under my heart. To hide it I just started doing push-ups. Everyone around is now silent. "Get up, MacIntyre!" I hop up, lower lip a trembling and he offers me his hand as in a handshake. I was momentarily gob smacked and then reached out it for it. He grasped it tightly and kept it held as he said words that carried me through so many bad situations. "You can learn anything from anybody anywhere but discipline comes from within." then he let my hand go. I haven't thought about that in years. It may sound silly but that memory still chokes me up.

Level 10

Learning is living.

In job interviews, I like to tailor my responses to the position they're looking to fill. This strategy is a no brainer, sure. Having said that, there is one topic I try to get in there no matter what the position: I have a passion for learning, and this passion drives me to learn more and more about my job. When it comes to technology, I don't feel there's ever a point where we actually have nothing more to learn. We're in technology: the only constant is change. Whenever I mention my love of lifelong learning (to say nothing of alliteration), I see interview panels start scribbling notes. This guy knows he doesn't know everything. This guy is willing to learn about how we do things in our organization. This guy always wants to be improving. This guy can probably learn to fill lots of roles in our organization. I don't know what they're writing, but I've been pretty successful in my interviews thus far. I attribute my success in part to my love of learning.

Whether learning about new technologies, learning ways to streamline processes, or even learning about my colleagues and their tips and tricks, broadening our understanding of the world around us is a way we can bring more and more value to our organization through the years.  When I was coming up in IT, I had a CFO tell me, "No matter what you're being paid, a certain amount of that salary is paid so you can learn better ways to get your job done."  I've taken that to heart, and just today I learned about our Siemens RuggedCom switches, our fiber ring topology for a critical area of our infrastructure, and an old Oracle Forms application that is inexplicably still around.

I began with the phrase, "learning is living." The converse is true. If you're not learning, you're dying. Let's live, folks. Let's never stop learning.

Level 11

To learn is to enter a new world; to be brave enough to allow change teach you something new.

"Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn."

Often attributed incorrectly to Benjamin Franklin, it comes from the Xunzi by Xun Kuang who lived 312-230BC

不闻不若闻之, 闻之不若见之, 见之不若知之, 知之不若行之

The direct translation is:

Not having heard something is not as good as having heard it; having heard it is not as good as having seen it; having seen it is not as good as knowing it; knowing it is not as good as putting it into practice.

With this derivation being done by H.H. Dubs in 1928.

MVP
MVP

The "old proverb" does not hold any water today - "You cannot teach an old dog new tricks"

To survive in the ever changing IT world, one must learn new things to stay abreast.

I rather approve of the saying "It's never too late to mend".

Learning is always possible.

Well put mate!  I learn something new every day, or try to. I may not have all the "badges" that others have, but I'm confidant that I have strength in depth enough to have a crack at any IT issue that may come my way.

I may have to do significant research in order to fix something which is outside my comfort zone, but I relish these jobs, as they allow me to expand said comfort zone a little, each time them come up

Level 10

" To Learn" "To Teach"

Once you learn something new, I always feel like 'Great! I learned something new! Is there anyone who hasn't come across this I can share it with? What can I learn from them as well? With IT ever changing there IS always that need of, better, easier, faster, improve...

share..share...share. What do most people tend to do nowadays? Google. Google find out what other resources are out there, are others facing the same IT problem I am? Did they share their experience? hey! This solution helped me, Inform the person who's posted so they know it helped. others see it, and they try it to, they also learn. It's an endless cycle, for me I think the word Share should be in between the Learn and Teach. Connecting the two. You're sharing your experiences and in turn the person learning is sharing their view of the same scenario but through different eyes. Then the teacher also learns something new from those they teach.

I think it's one of my favorite aspects of IT.

It's bringing people closer together to reach a common goal, and everyone attempts to help each other (most times anyways).

It's like a really really ridiculously large family. And I love every one of them, .....even the weird aunts and uncles.

Level 9

To learn is to combat stagnation and improve.

Level 14

I got distracted yesterday and forgot about the word a day.  Here is my entry anyway.

To work in our field

We must constantly learn,

Expand what we know

To increase what we earn.

MVP
MVP

We should all be learning every day.

Teaching is the test that shows you if you have truly learned and know your subject matter.

I like saying 'I don't know', because that means I'm about to learn something.

Level 11

I always say you learn something new everyday. 

Level 12

I feel it is human nature to want to learn, its part of what makes us such a curious species. Obviously some people are significantly more curious then others. Some people love to learn, and others hate it. I try to learn something new every day I draw breath. For me if I did not learn something, then the day felt like a waste to me. Learning something new, no matter how insignificant it may seem, leads to a broader view of everything. As Leon said, we IT people tend to be the most curious and have a ravenous hunger to learn. That is likely because anyone who gets into this field for the long haul knows they will have to continue to learn about new things to survive. If you get into IT and you do not like to learn about new things, its about the same as a a surgeon who doesn't like the sight of blood, you probably picked the wrong profession.

Level 10

Everyone in our IT department has a membership to Pluralsight.  Pluralsight | Unlimited Online Developer, IT and Creative Training   My goal is to do 3 hours of learning each week either during my workday or at home where there are

My goal is to do 3 hours of learning each week either during my workday or at home where there are no interruptions from End Users.learning-priorities-Development.jpg

Level 10

IT is a field of always learning new skills and techniques. New products will come along that can help make our lives and jobs easier but with anything new it’s a challenge at first to get the hang of it. Some of us are lucky enough to attend conferences or training classes through our employer. Learning through others presentations by other ways to overcome a challenge can be one of the most rewarding things to learn. Those unwilling to learn in IT will not be successful.

Level 9

Paraphrasing Yoda.....

"If you end your training now - you will become an agent of evil....."

and

"Always pass on what you have learned"

Level 12

Diversity in leaning is helpful in everything.   The techniques I learned in Electrical Engineering, Nuclear Physics, and philosophy are the same techniques I use in SolarWinds.

Level 11

Learning, the desire to learn, the desire to expand your mind and grow within your profession is something I've found that is key to successful people.  There are those that work because it's a job, and those that work because it's their career and passion.  I've often noticed throughout my career, the successful people that I've worked with all shared that same drive and hunger for learning.  Those that treated learning as part of their daily/weekly lives, were those that were far more career minded and ultimately were the ones getting the promotions  and advancing their careers.  Those that treated work as a 9-5 job and would not be willing to spend any of their time after work learning to progress are still working the same entry-ish level job.

Level 10

Calvin and Hobbes

We all learn differently.

Level 11

learn_3.gifAmerican sign language for learn.  Pull the info off the page and put it in your head!  If only it were that easy!!

Level 13

learning is a skill that requires listening, reading, or interpreting new information, and applying that information to new situations. Because it's a skill, you can get better at it, and train your brain to be better at it.

MVP
MVP

I try to learn something new every day. I looking at everything that happens as a learning experience and carry that over for the rest of my life.

Level 11

Learn

to acquire knowledge of or skill in by study, instruction, or experience:

What is it to learn? I guess I will know once I get there.   I am learning to gain knowledge and grow every day.   I wanted to take on this word of the day challenge so i can learn from people much better than me how to, write better, challenge myself, and stay focused on the important items in life.   I learned from the past week how important family and life is.   I lost my sister to cancer, my daughter has had a major surgery, my brother is having health issues, and my wife and i are just trying to hold things together the best we can.  But there is a calm in life.  I have faith, I have a career, I have a strong family.  

But those are things I know and have learned, so going forward, what can I learn?  I think to learn you simply need an open mind, and an appetite or desire to be better, do more, and think.  thought gives way to ideas which give way to action, which can give way to success and failure which we can learn from.  I often say when people ask me what to you know and i reply less and less each day.   I hope that is not the case.  I hope to continue to learn and grow as long as I have the light of life with in me.

Where can we go to learn?   I feel we simply need to open our eyes and try.  Like a new born baby, everything is a wonder.  Let us all kep that wonder in our eyes as we progress in life that we might never lose that yearning and desire to learn.

Level 8

Before I stepped into IT, my idea of learning was to learn everything within video games. Now, being in the IT world, I thrive on learning. Whether it is about the newest technologies that are coming out or the ones that will make my job simpler. Like Leon stated, "In order to learn, one must also be committed to teaching. And in order to teach, one must be prepared to learn," you must be prepared to teach others what you have learned to pass your skills along to help others in this field.

About the Author
In my sordid career, I have been an actor, bug exterminator and wild-animal remover (nothing crazy like pumas or wildebeasts. Just skunks and raccoons.), electrician, carpenter, stage-combat instructor, American Sign Language interpreter, and Sunday school teacher. Oh, and I work with computers. Since 1989 (when you got a free copy of Windows 286 on twelve 5¼” floppies when you bought a copy of Excel 1.0) I have worked as a classroom instructor, courseware designer, desktop support tech, server support engineer, and software distribution expert. Then about 14 years ago I got involved with systems monitoring. I've worked with a wide range of tools: Tivoli, Nagios, Patrol, ZenOss, OpenView, SiteScope, and of course SolarWinds. I've designed solutions for companies that were extremely modest (~10 systems) to those that were mind-bogglingly large (250,000 systems in 5,000 locations). During that time, I've had to chance to learn about monitoring all types of systems – routers, switches, load-balancers, and SAN fabric as well as windows, linux, and unix servers running on physical and virtual platforms.