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Day 13 - Bootstrap

Level 10

It’s a mindset. (And yes, it’s also the name of Twitter’s front-end web framework, amongst other things.)

Bootstrapping is essentially the commitment to getting something done no matter what obstacles or resource constraints you may have. It is the resolve to move forward understanding that the end result may not be perfect, the circumstances not ideal.

An Introduction to the Bootstrap highlights how in the 1900s, to “pull (oneself) up by (one's) bootstraps” was used figuratively to describe an impossible task. Years later, its meaning has expanded to include to "better oneself by rigorous, unaided effort.”

That is not an easy feat, and not one everyone feels comfortable with, but it provides a tremendous opportunity for growth.

I’m sure many of you in our IT community run into what may at first blush appear to be insurmountable obstacles on a constant basis. How can I possibly make this work with the limited resources I have? How can I fix this if I don’t have anything left in this year’s budget? From speaking to many of our IT professionals, failure is not an option, and more often than not, the bootstrap mentality is what enables them to power through.

A few years ago, as part of a small start-up, I found myself on the phone with a customer who was having trouble with our platform. He was frustrated and wanted things fixed instantly “or else was immediately cancelling his subscription”. At that time, I was wearing the marketing, customer success, and support hats all at once. We hadn’t acquired many users, so we wanted to make sure we didn’t lose any customers either. We were a small team of three, and my technical co-founder Ted was at the Department of Motor Vehicles waiting to register his vehicle. The customer wanted his issue resolved immediately, so over text, while on the phone with the customer, I relayed the problem to Ted, who successfully walked me through fixing the issue. All while our customer was unaware of what was transpiring behind the scenes. It was exhilarating to realize we could successfully these tackle these types of situations as a team.

From these past experiences, I understand the creativity and team building that comes from trying to generate ideas and solutions without resources. The old adage of "necessity is the mother of invention" seems to never ring truer than on those occasions. When resources are not an obstacle, getting things done is just a matter of time, but it gets a lot more interesting to see what you can construct when resources are tight and things needed to be resolved immediately.

Many of us wait until we think things are in perfect order to move forward, but we work in technology, which means things will never be perfect. If you haven’t, I encourage you to be a little scrappy and try “bootstrapping.” You’ll be amazed at what can be accomplished. The satisfaction that flows from knowing you were able to bring forth a solution from what can be an uncomfortable space that is worth experiencing. Keep pushing forward.

Level 12

Bootstrap is also a way of life. Getting through your day no matter what lies ahead of you.

Level 10

None of us got where we are solely by pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps. We got here because somebody - a parent, a teacher, an Ivy League crony or a few nuns - bent down and helped us pick up our boots. ............Thurgood Marshall

America always pivots between collective responsibility and the idea that the individual can pull himself up by his bootstraps. ..........Randi Weingarten

Level 15

Great post!

I've long said that one of my favorite things about SolarWinds, as compared to other monitoring tools, is how it can work within your existing IT architecture and practices without major changes. "The product works with your IT, you don't have to change your IT for the product"

The trick to that though, is the bootstrapping. Using imagination and API keeps the flexibility in place for manipulating the modules in, sometimes unintended by development, some very cool and amazing ways. On a personal note, it's really one of the primary reasons I love being in monitoring. Every day is a challenge to be solved. Sure money is tight, other teams are "unique", and jbiggley​ tells me to slow down; but that's all part of the ride.

Level 9

Pull up your bootstraps and get it done.

Level 9

I tried to pull myself up by the bootstrap but it broke, oh well.

Level 14

Image result for going to fast image

In zackm​'s defense, going fast is helping us get to where we want and need to be. Making that leap from 'bootstrapped' to 'OK, now we're getting somewhere' has been because of his role on our team. Glad to have him even if I do have to tell him to be patient every now and then

Level 9

I agree with desr​'s comment. Bootstrapping is a way of life. You never know what is going to happen, but you need to be ready to tackle those challenges.


I never thought of this word in that way.

Overcoming challenges is often what defines a person. It's not how many times you get knocked down, it's how many times you get up. In IT our jobs demand that we find solutions to matters, sometimes simple sometimes overwhelmingly complex. But IT is binary and even though complex there is a specific answer, if not multiple answers.

In life things are different - the feelings, impressions, emotions, circumstances and a multitude of other things challenge us to not only find a solution, but find one that doesn't harm or ignore others. The idea of bootstrapping your life to overcome and succeed combined with the many challenges often defines not just our personal success, but the success and happiness of those around us.

Level 10

Image result for bootstrap pirates of the caribbeanBootstrap Bill

Level 20


Happens to be a very popular open source toolkit for developing with HTML, CSS, and JS.

Level 14

Bootstrap is a way of life. It boils down to an attitude of " no excuses, just do it!!!" by putting your head down and focusing on the outcome.

I used to run a small tech group a few years back ... our motto was "The difficult we do immediately... the impossible, give us an hour or two!"

BootStrap...the easy and flexible way to make your MVC application set a mood or set a tone

Bootstrap Lumen and Bootstrap Super Hero are my personal favs

Level 20



I wouldn't know what It feels like to be part of a project / task where resources are not a problem.  It seems that there is always a limited time, people, or money.  I will agree, that limited resources bring about creativity, not only in a team environment, but in myself.  I am historically a procrastinator by nature.  My best work comes when I'm short on a deadline as I get the most work done in a short period of time.  I do not like to be late ever nor do I want to turn in subpar work, but still yet, I find myself pushing off things when I know that I have plenty of time to work on it.

Community Manager
Community Manager

It is also a paradox in Time Travel theory.

Time Travel & the Bootstrap Paradox Explained

Level 15

Of course when I saw the word of the day I in my IT mind thought virus, but then reading the initial post, it changed my mind.   When I think bootstrap I think, hold on tight its going to be a wild ride.   Now that is not always the case, and in the case of older BIOS viruses it was challenging but now many are protected from such things.   I like the thought of strapping ones self in and getting the job done.  So Today is one of those days, its #HUMPDAY​ and we're just getting started.   I think its time for me to grab that bootstrap and pull up tightly.   Time to get over the hump for the week. 

Level 9

There are few things better than “punching above your weight”
at work, or solving a problem on your own.  I’ve always equated bootstrapping as a
solitary activity and not a team sport, but I guess you can say a team can pull
its self up by the boot straps.  The
essay that started this discussion was not a solitary effort, rather it was two
people working together and I think the lesson here is that sometimes it’s
better to ask for help than to go it on your own.

Level 10

time for some new boots!

Level 9

My mother's favorite saying is "Pull yourself up by your bootstraps!"  Failure is not an option.

Level 11

When life throws boots at you, make sure to bootstrap.

Level 15

favorite read of the week! that is so cool!!!

"Bootstrap Bill Turner!"  Nothing like Bill Nighy as Davy Jones barking out those words


"Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps" is one of those sayings that has been hijacked and misused over the decades. it's origin was meant for the manual or physical effort needed to get one back on his or her own feet again. Later generations have now adopted it to mean anything related to hard work.

Level 12

I'm sorry but I've never been a fan of 'bootstrap'. It grates at me like a worthless buzzword. Example: 'synergy'.

Level 9

Be mindful of the toes you step on to get up the ladder, they might be the ones wearing the bootstraps that kick you in the rear on your way down.

Ah bootstrapping, the sooner I can levitate the better!

Level 12

Pull yourself up by the bootstraps. Reminds me of something my grandmother might have said, don't really hear it much today.

Has been replaced with "put you big boy/girl panties on"

for my final-year undergraduate project I built a CPU out of discrete logic using 40-bit words to drive the ALU, etc. and design a microcode to support the programs compiled from the Forth. I had to bootstrap the microcode using toggle switches. After a while I realized I should have simply burnt the microcode into an eeprom, yes it would have run more slowly but the boot time would have been faster than the runtime, but that was a learning experience (and quite insane for an undergrad project)

Level 17

While I appreciate the idea that we in IT often take the initiative, attempt to get the job done on our own without dragging in (and distracting) other members of our team, I find that I, too, take issue with the basic premise that someone can pull themselves up by their own bootstraps.

It brings to mind one of the most powerful moments of humility and gratitude that I can recall - when Fred Rogers (yes, Mister Rogers himself) accepted a lifetime achievement award. You can watch it here: Fred Rogers Acceptance Speech - 1997 - YouTube

But the Esquire article about it is a classic piece of writing as well:

Mister Rogers and His Lifetime Achievement Emmy (Get Ready to Cry at Work) | Mental Floss

[Mister Rogers] went onstage to accept Emmy's Lifetime Achievement Award, and there, in front of all the soap-opera stars and talk-show sinceratrons, in front of all the jutting man-tanned jaws and jutting saltwater bosoms, he made his small bow and said into the microphone, "All of us have special ones who have loved us into being. Would you just take, along with me, ten seconds to think of the people who have helped you become who you are ... Ten seconds of silence." And then he lifted his wrist, and looked at the audience, and looked at his watch, and said softly, "I'll watch the time," and there was, at first, a small whoop from the crowd, a giddy, strangled hiccup of laughter, as people realized that he wasn't kidding, that Mister Rogers was not some convenient eunuch but rather a man, an authority figure who actually expected them to do what he asked … and so they did. One second, two seconds, three seconds … and now the jaws clenched, and the bosoms heaved, and the mascara ran, and the tears fell upon the beglittered gathering like rain leaking down a crystal chandelier, and Mister Rogers finally looked up from his watch and said, "May God be with you" to all his vanquished children.

Except that's not all he said. At the end of the 10 seconds, Reverend Fred Rogers said:

"Whomever you've been thinking about, how pleased they must be to know the difference you feel they've made."

So the next time you think about pulling yourself up by the bootstraps, ask yourself: Who gave you those boots? Who first taught you to put them on and tie them up? Who showed you how to walk in them? Who caught you when you inevitably fell as you took your first, faltering steps?

Maybe take a moment to think of them, whether they are near, or far, or in Heaven above, and send a silent word of gratitude.

And then pick yourself up, and get back to the work of building, creating, solving, and helping.

Yea... but at the end of the day when the rubber meets the road we've got one throat to choke!

I remember that speech! Never fails to draw a tear or two. Mr. Rogers is still a hero to me. His ability to speak to the child in all of us was a wonderful gift. I am still waiting for the next Mr. Rogers to come around and help us all play nice again.

"Bootstrap" was a very challenging concept for me to learn back in 1971 when I was taking my first programming theory class.  "To pull one's self up by one's own boot straps" made no sense to me then, and even today, while I understand how the term is used, it still does not stand up to English logic.  The very concept is that one would be able to increase one's level/standing/height/altitude on one's own, by merely reaching down, grabbing the straps on your cowboy boots, and jerking up, is obviously impossible.

I fought with that for weeks and let it get in the way of making progress.  I yearned for a better description of what happens during the "boot" process.  Better to think of standing next to a device that needs to be lifted to a higher level of altitude and literally kicking it up the steps with your boot--than to think of lifting yourself up by your own boot straps to a higher level.  You'd have nothing against which you can pull those very straps.

If someone had provided a different term than "bootstrap", it would have helped me get the concept more quickly.  I could have accepted other words or phrases like:  "initial startup procedure", or "preliminary operational function"--anything besides "bootstrap".

Yes, I understand all the cultural references.  Yes, I understand how it works, what it means.

But it's an unfortunate term, and it references something literally quite impossible, despite the fact that society has used the phrase, and agrees on what it has meant, for centuries.

It still just isn't physically possible to lift yourself by your boot straps.

I prefer to use alternate phrases that better describe (literally) what must be done.  "The switch/PC/router loads up some initial commands that help it get going.  After it reaches its initial basic operating stage, then it discovers it must load more commands.  Those commands help it know how to get into its final operating stage."

Yah, that's a lot more cumbersome than saying "The device boots up and just runs."

Where a switch or router or computer has its own BIOS (Basic Input Output System) commands that get it up and running initially, and then enable it to load the full operating system, people don't have a parallel ability.  Instead we say "That person put in extra hours and took extra education to enable themselves to climb out of a bad situation, to leave a lower paying job, and get into a better job or a better situation."  They didn't "bootstrap" themselves--they just did what was necessary to improve their situation.  Without reaching down, grabbing the straps on their boots, and somehow lifting themselves to that new level.

Someone ELSE could reach down and grab another person's boot straps, and then lift that other person up to a higher level.

Yah, the whole terminology of "self booting" or "bootstrapping" is a literal waste on me.  And I apologize that I don't get over it.

I may not be the only one with this issue about the English language.  I found a few memes pre-built, ready to display.  I found them entertaining, but I do not support bullying or impropriety.

pastedImage_0.png  pastedImage_1.png

Level 12

An alternate take.

Everyone thinks of this as pulling up both boots at a time, jumping up all at once.

If you're climbing stairs or a ladder, that's quite difficult, even dangerous.

But if you do one boot at a time, keeping one boot planted while the other is in the air, unsupported...

Level 10

The myth of the self-made man, the one who pulled himself up by his own bootstraps. No one makes it on their own. Just because you refuse to acknowledge the help and support on the way, doesn't mean it wasn't given.

Level 9


A bit late to the game today, so I'll keep it short.

A leather bootstrap

Can be used to pull it on

Only if boot fits

Only essentials

Needed for something complex

To happen next

Loading a program

Few initial instructions

Then Blue Screen of Death!

Level 12

Yeah I don't really have much for this one that others haven't already hit on again. I think us in IT tend to do this a lot more often then we think, the adage of pulling yourself up by the bootstraps. How many times are things dropped on us and we are left wondering what happened and where to go from there? Seems to be fitting really.

Level 12

why is this bootstrap of a thing so...Its really a mindset of programs going up by the bootstraps.

Level 14

Bootstrap can mean many things.  Right now, the only thing that comes to mind is a multicast bootstrap router.  I am configuring multicast to go through a Sidewinder firewall and enjoying all the challenges that come with that sort of tasking.


Bootstrap is a term I have not heard for a long time. It was something my grandmother used to tell me, as discussed; "to pull yourself up by your own bootstraps". I interpret is trying to push yourself to complete what you might see as an insurmountable task.

Excellent.  And EXACTLY!

At dinner tonight I mentioned the word of the day to my wife. It started an interesting discussion. Here is the jist of it. Today bootstrap code and booting are the simple set of instructions that allow a processor to load more complex things and get on with the tasks we assign it. As many above have illuded to one can "pull one's self up by your bootstraps." Ok, not so interesting until we started talking about how some of my wife's clients as a former social worker didn't get taught some of the basics. They didn't even have so simple set of instructions about how to be in this world. So they appear now, to some, as wondering aimlessly and their lives are such a mess. They did have mental or intellectual bootstrap code to fall back on. Some if that is what they we're learning in her programs, much of which alit of us take for granted.

Then came the discussions around some workers seem to fail repeatedly. Perhaps they just aren't a good fit, but many times no one mentored them on expectations in the work place. What are the basic things you need to not necessarily thrive but just survive. The things you fall back on in a crisis or when first starting out. Again, no bootstrap code.

We then got on the family matters, it is the holiday season after all, and again the concept came up. How much people are like their parents. Perhaps in subtle ways. The hope is always for improvement, but looking at behaviours you can see the parent in the child. So what bootstrap code are you programming your kids with or the other children you interact with that they will take into adulthood.

A leather or cloth loop on a pair of boots is a simple thing that helps you out them on. But it allows you to take steps out into the world on a very complex journey indeed.

Level 14

This takes me back to my mainframe days where the bootstrap code was loaded from disk into memory at startup and that then took over to start the program load and get the box up and running.  It's where "Booting a computer" comes from.

Level 9

Bootstrap is a program that resides in the computer's EPROM, ROM, or other non-volatile memory. It is automatically executed by the processor when turning on the computer. The bootstrap loader reads the hard drives boot sector to continue the process of loading the computer's operating system.

Level 11

Image result for IT bootstrap

Level 10

Love this!

Level 21

I think this is a great word, it often comes to mind for me when I think about the need to just get $h!t done.

For those of us that don't routinely wear boots, is shoestrapping or sneakerstrapping acceptable?

Better to say "pull your boots onto your feet by their bootstraps" than to say "pull yourself up by your bootstraps", IMHO.

If one meant the latter, it might be more helpful to provide specifics:

  • Get a haircut & shave (as appropriate) and keep yourself looking better.  It'll help you get more opportunities.
  • Make your bed, keep your home and car clean and tidy.
  • Listen more than you speak.  You were given two ears and one mouth--use that ratio as a guide.
  • Treat people as you'd like to be treated.
  • Walk in someone else's footsteps for a good while before commenting on their situation.  If you must comment, be kind.
  • Don't condemn someone based on their color or race or religion or political party.  If you must judge, start by remembering that others will judge you.
  • Surround yourself with good people.  Others will judge you by your peers, and your peers set examples and expect you to follow them--good or bad.
  • Fit in.  If you're the only one with tattoos, or you so many more piercings than others that folks say you fell face-first into an open tackle box, you're not fitting in.  Don't give short-sighted folks reason to ostracize you.
  • Be the example for "a good person", and others can make you their role model.
  • Smile.
  • Keep your clothing clean, along with your skin.
  • Take a technical writing class.  That will improve your communications and consequently improve your opportunities.
  • Network with people--a LOT!  You'll make impressions that can help you get a better job.
  • Treat yourself properly--get exercise, don't watch too much screen time, stay away from becoming obese, keep your blood pressure where it should be.  And you might just find more opportunities than people who don't treat themselves properly.
  • Keep clean, don't wear perfumes, colognes, and don't use scented detergents.  Many people find those unnatural smells offensive, and may eliminate you from great opportunities.
  • Improve your training and new doors can open for you, with increased salary potential.
  • Have a positive disposition--even a generally sunny outlook.  People will want to work with you, instead of avoid you

The list of good advice goes on and on, and is tacitly contained within that phrase "lift yourself up by your bootstraps."

Level 11

I work for a church so I feel this a lot...sometimes we just gotta do the best with what we got!


So, are you part of the CITRT (now the Church IT Network)?

jbiggley​ I think what you're really seeing is not patience, it's excitement in wanting to fix things! Part of karlap​'s concept of bootstrapping is that you don't give up in the face of adversity. zackm​ and I share a lot of mindset on how we want to get things done. I don't know how to express it. Beyond you probably wishing he was more calm about things, you might not realize how much you are the cautious/slow one and he is easily the "let's put this on a rocket ship and speed onward" kind of guy, because he's both ready for where you're at today and where you *could* be. In short, you both have the same perspective and same goal, but a different philosophy on how to get there.

I tell people this all day, all the time:

If you try to do something, and you're not able to get it done - you probably just need to find a different way to do it. The wall you're hitting is simply telling you to find a way to go around it. Lots of people give up the second they hit the wall.