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Day 9: Observe

Level 10

The ability to observe is the power to absorb. Human beings, more so than the rest of the animal kingdom, are born with a unique capability to observe, imitate, learn and acquire new abilities, along with the octopus… seriously, those critters evolve and adjust to their environment at a freakish rate (I saw the documentary on National Geographic, but I’ve digressed from our topic of discussion). This learning process starts with the power to observe, the power to focus on something and see it, hear it, smell it, taste it, and feel it in great detail. 

You take a network, for instance. The tools we use to monitor a network offer us insights (senses, if you will) into what is going on with the bandwidth, what potential issues lie ahead, how we can avoid those issues, and even allows us to analyze dynamic network paths in order to avoid bottlenecks. Is it magic? Absolutely not, because the power to observe is the basic building block of the “superpowers” we have when monitoring a network. And even the people who are in possession of these monitoring superpowers, must constantly use their power to observe in order to make use of the awesome things they can do for a network’s performance with these aforementioned network monitoring superpowers.

In order to appreciate the power to observe on a deeper level, let’s try a quick exercise: What are you observing now? Take a moment to observe something in vivid detail right now (try not to pick a person, they might think you’re being creepy).

Did you do it?

Okay, what was something you immediately noticed about that object, animal, person or thing? Can you remember it in exact detail? Can you remember how it made you feel? Did you learn something by observing it? Could you think of ways in which you could use what you learned from observing it?

Imagine if you could say “yes” with all certainty to the above questions (and if you did, maybe pick something more complex, just for fun!). Can you imagine using this ability to its full potential with everyone and everything every minute of every day?

Our ability to observe is not just an ability to learn, but an ability to empathize, an ability to understand, an ability to interpret, an ability to improve, and so much more. Taking a moment every day to observe your environment is the same as acquiring a new understanding about something, no matter how big or small it is. And in the end, when we think about the world of IT, and especially network monitoring, the power to observe is key to all of our functions. 

During the holidays, what will you observe? How will it change your perception about something, and even more importantly, yourself?

It’s typical during this time of year for us to be thankful for the people and “things” we have in our lives. But are we sufficiently thankful or appreciative of our ability to observe them?

Absorb. Learn. Interpret. Innovate.

I look forward to seeing your interpretation of the word “Observe” below. Thanks for reading.

44 Comments
Level 12

Observe what others do and you may learn.

MVP
MVP

I observe everything that goes on around me so I am aware of what is going on. I sit back at times and observe other the world around me to see what the pulse of the world is like in order to make decisions that could effect others.

Level 11

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Like this

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So though Observation is important never get carried away by it as there is one more to consider which you will know tomorrow's word

(secret :- Tomorrow's word is nothing but "COUNT")

20 years ago the mantra was "Don't believe anything on the internet"

Today,it is more like "Look WhinyBrat dot Facebook dot Com says [insert politician you dislike] invented cholera!"

When did we stop observing the facts...the evidence.

We try people in the media and convict them before we have one shred of evidence presented to us.

And we do that in our environments as well.  The response to the "It's the [insert scapegoat here...but we know they are going to say 'network']" is a tool like Orion that allows you to observe your environment in near real time, coorelate data points and makee a logic deduction.

Observer the world around you and make wise decisions.

Observe the environment you are monitoring and make informed decisions.

Level 12

In the future, when AI becomes more of a regular integral part of IT, SolarWinds should reserve OBSERVE for a name for their AI module.

Observe will be the watcher for changes that happen to nodes on the network and learn and adapt to the ever changing network. New interface turned up over night during a maintenance window, Observe automagically starts monitoring. Drives removed and new ones added, no problem. Observe sees those "down" volumes and will go and look for new ones and add them in without relying on a scheduled network discovery.

Level 10

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Level 11

Observation is another form of learning.

Level 10

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Level 11

For several years I worked for a wonderful place - SeaCamp in Big Pine Key.  I loved working there teaching and running a SCUBA program for kids.  The motto of SeaCamp is -  To Observe and not Disturb.  Which is great motto for a science conservatory kinda organization.  It came into question as we did science labs on an algae called neo-gonilithon (sp?) in which we broke off pieces, brought them back in tubs and observed the community of life inside with the kids.  We later took the broken pieces and organisms back and dumped them in the water by where we got them.  It took several years but we finally mostly killed all of that algae in the area.  It was at that time we realized perhaps we should have stuck to the motto in word AND deed. We had been told at the time the algae would grow back, but ...  Perhaps we should have taken notice at the time that the area of living algae was decreasing.

Also a great American Sign Language sign that has been mainstreamed! Point 2 fingers at your eyes and then at the person you are talking to, this is actually I am watching or observing youwatch1.jpgwatch2.jpg

I observe that life passes us by faster than I can sometimes keep up with.  I have observed people at a rock concert, walking in Las Vegas, and at a ballgame.   I have observed technology doing things I only believed would be seen in a movie.   I have observed hate become love and friends become enemies.  I have observed my dog love my cats.  I have observed my wife reading a book in her favorite chair, and smiling.  I have observed how a simple act of kindness can change the day for the person receiving the gift.   I found all these things by doing one simple thing, the doing the simple act of observation.  Sometimes its better to be the wallflower, behind the scenes, than in front.  you can observe more from the distance, than being in front with everything behind you. 

THE BLIND MEN AND THE ELEPHANT

 A picture of 6 blind men feeling an elephant for the first time and what they are imagining in their minds.

John Godfrey Saxe's ( 1816-1887) version of the famous Indian legend,

It was six men of Indostan
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant
(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind.

The First approach'd the Elephant,
And happening to fall
Against his broad and sturdy side,
At once began to bawl:
"God bless me! but the Elephant
Is very like a wall!"

The Second, feeling of the tusk,
Cried, -"Ho! what have we here
So very round and smooth and sharp?
To me 'tis mighty clear
This wonder of an Elephant
Is very like a spear!"

The Third approached the animal,
And happening to take
The squirming trunk within his hands,
Thus boldly up and spake:
"I see," quoth he, "the Elephant
Is very like a snake!"

The Fourth reached out his eager hand,
And felt about the knee.
"What most this wondrous beast is like
Is mighty plain," quoth he,
"'Tis clear enough the Elephant
Is very like a tree!"

The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,
Said: "E'en the blindest man
Can tell what this resembles most;
Deny the fact who can,
This marvel of an Elephant
Is very like a fan!"

The Sixth no sooner had begun
About the beast to grope,
Then, seizing on the swinging tail
That fell within his scope,
"I see," quoth he, "the Elephant
Is very like a rope!"

And so these men of Indostan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right,
And all were in the wrong!

MORAL.

So oft in theologic wars,
The disputants, I ween,
Rail on in utter ignorance
Of what each other mean,
And prate about an Elephant
Not one of them has seen!

Observe:  Verb.  Notice or perceive (something) and register it as being significant.

That last part--registering in your mind something you've seen as "significant" is the important part.

Solarwinds products help me observe things that enable me to react and respond and plan and deploy, and thereby improve network conditions for our employees and our customers. 

NPM and NCM and NTA automatically bring to my attention those things that ARE significant, which I'd otherwise not have time to dig for and research.

Level 13

Observation is a key leadership trait that takes patience and practice...regular managers look, talk, and change all at the same time, trying to get "a quick win", and more often than not, cause havoc along the way...

"Seeing is believing, believing is seeing."

MVP
MVP

This month of Word-A-Day all links together. Observing is a part of the puzzle, but not the puzzle in itself.

Another post says "Seeing is believing, believing is seeing." But is that true? I'd argue that it never is that simple. At one point doctors saw someone have their blood sucked out by leaches (No lawyer jokes please) and the person was healed. Confidence, yes, but they saw it. I saw Star Wars (I'm in IT of course), but none of that is real, no matter how much I observed/saw or believed.

Observing is a tool, just like hearing and listening are tools.

We as IT people need to constantly hone our skills, adjust the tools in our toolbox and use them together to gather the facts as they are, not as we see them or as we want them to be.

Level 9

Most people don't take the time to observe the beauty of nature - a breathtaking sunrise or sunset, geese in flight on a cold, gray day, or the beauty of a clear starlit night.  They're just too busy getting ready for a new workday, or planning the next business meeting, or maybe running errands on the way home.  What peace and joy they are missing in these quiet observations!  I truly feel sorry for those who don't pause a moment to observe the beauty of nature - this is a gift that  costs us nothing, yet too few of us allow ourselves the time to observe.

Level 9

Andrew Carnegie once said, "As I grow older, I pay less attention to what men say. I just watch what they do." Sometimes the most important statements people make is how they react to a particular situation. When we learn to be empathetic and observe "between the lines" in our conversations and meetings with people, we can "hear" what isn't said and take the appropriate action without embarrassing them in front of their colleagues. Diplomacy is a skill that some leaders overlook.

Observation can be tricky, especially when you have a room full of extroverts and introverts. Author Susan Cain wrote a book called "Quiet" that provides some insights about introverts and how they can be misunderstood in the corporate world. She also gave a Ted talk on the subject.

Susan Cain: The power of introverts | TED Talk | TED.com

Level 9

random thought...

When observing, the Observer Effect modifies the subject of observation in such a way that what is observed is objectively modified.  However, this observation effect is not present when monitoring live systems via SolarWinds.  Does this mean that SolarWinds defies physics?

Level 21

When you take action or form an opinion without first taking the time to observe you are asking for trouble.  I have been in many a troubleshooting meetings where I here people saying things such as "I think this is what is happening" or "I am guessing this is the problem".  I was taught to categorize these things under "assumptions" and then take the time to collect data and Observe to either move them to the True or False categories.

Level 14

Open TCPDump

And observe packets flow,

The only real way

To be in the know.

Level 11

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I just observed that I did not respond to this "Word of the day"

RT

Level 14

There's an old saying,

"Sometimes I sits and thinks, & sometimes I just sits"

It's the opportunity to clear your mind, to observe the detail (whether it's nature or tech).

But isn't it funny how all these words are so connected.

When you observe better, you start to move from confusion towards understanding and acceptance which gives the opportunity to choose to forgive which in turn leads to trust.

Level 9

Observe is something any IT professional needs to learn and master. To observe your environment and see the faults and improvements that can be done. To observe the notifications that come in either showing a problem or alerting you to one coming. Even observe in your daily life the people and world around you. Stop looking at your cell phone and tablets, and observe the world you live in. The place you live in.

Level 8

You can observe a lot by just watching. - Yogi Berra

Level 9

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Level 11

In my world observation is data collection and has to lead to facts.  I can observe a co-worker wearing green, but can't then interpret that to mean that green is her favorite color.  But to observe green being worn on more than half the days over a period of time could lead to the fact of green being the favorite color.

Don't assume what you have observed to be the truth without further observation.

Of course I could always just ask what the favorite color is, but that's no fun!

Level 13

"The more you observe politics, the more you've got to admit that each party is worse than the other." -- Will Rogers

Level 9

This is how I have learned most of my skills in Technology. It wasn't from my college or self learning. I found a few highly skilled Engineers and a business owner that would put up with a talkative backwoods Okie and I shadowed them. I wasn't  getting paid half the time but I was observing. As i watched how they attacked a problem or how they prepared for a meeting. I also had the privilege of watching a man that owned a million dollar business as he did the grunt work after hours when no one was around. He knew the job needed to get done and that his staff has all ready given so much to him and his company. You don't see people like that very much. Sorry, I got off topic........

In all that i was able to observe it allowed me to put those same great traits I found in those men to work in my own career and life. I was able to become a Network manager at age 25 and at the same time grow my family to include 4 kids.

Level 12

Reading < Observing < Doing

Level 20

Observing is what the SolarWinds tools makes much easier when trying to look into our networks.

I think all of these are equally important - whether you're in IT on an engineering side or in IT on a technical side (I've been in both myself). Exactly like mlotter​ points out.

Level 10

I do try to spend a little time pondering these words before I write something out, on first glance, Observe was a hard one to come up with something to write about, (see what i did there, and here? Ha, I kill me)  But as I read through some of the other replies here, what really stood out to me is that Observe is a very deliberate action.  You can't really observe something by wandering by, glancing at it, catching it out of the corner of you eye.  It is something you stop and deliberately do, with thought behind the action.  You watch or look at something with a purpose.  Perhaps a purpose in understanding, perhaps a purpose in enhancement, or growth, what ever it is it isn't without purpose.  So not sure I have a wrapping up point on this, but just more thoughts to ponder.

Level 10

Observing to me means - Attention to detail. Some thing I learned in the USAF. There is so much we miss when we don't take the time to observe our surroundings. It will help you in life and especially in the IT world. I am starting to think this word activity will also double as my goals for 2017.

One of the many life lessons my late father taught me was to sit quietly and watch (and reflect, but I'll get into that in a later post). So the ability to observe comes quite easily. In addition, I have been a USCF chess player since my early teens so I have learned from an early age to sit quietly and focus. But I digress...

Ironically enough, I will spend several snippets of my day observing my SolarWinds dashboard observing the data and choosing what issue I want to tackle (There are soooo many!). Sometimes I take on the obvious, sometimes I take on the issue that I know will reap benefits 6-12 months down the road. Sometimes I observe the dashboard and decide what I am going to take to my leadership to ruin their day (and ask for $$$ to fix). So much to observe...

In the end, I prefer to sit quietly on the Delaware beach during summer and watch my children play in the breakers.

Level 12

For me I observe a lot of things. When people think I am not paying attention, I usually am. I tend to focus on more then a single thing at a time. I always observe my surroundings and what is going on around me. I work in a hospital so that is fairly important. Last thing I want to do is run into a patient or visitor because I was not observant of my surroundings. A lot of it comes back to being prepared. You can't be prepared if your not observant of what is going on around you.

Level 11

I think in I.T., observation is very important! It's important to observe many things - network traffic, users, etc - and then strive to improve on the things that you observed as needing work.

Level 10

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Level 17

I find that when observing anything you would do well to observe the inaction around whatever you are observing. For example, when watching basketball, most people observe the ball and the players with the ball. But there is much to observe if you watch the players without the ball. Same for baseball, where the real beauty of the game is the inaction that is happening at all times.

Level 10

Is it weird if I admit, that when I first hear the word observe, I think of:

Grabbing a favorite book that I love reading over and over again, going to a cafe that has a nice outdoor spot, and order a cappuccino. Taking breaks in-between the reading of the book to just sit back, relax, and observe the passersby?

It's amazing how, in our society, everything has becoming so fast paced, that it almost looks like no one takes the time to observe their surroundings anymore.

The busy mommy rushing across the street, with three little ones in tow. The youngest one is fully of energy, craving attention, and the other two are having an argument.

Dudes skateboarding down the street while their friend tries to record their tricks and spins with his fancy looking tiny camera.

Taxi man waiting at the stop, quietly reading a newspaper, as he waits for the next fair to hop into his car.

A couple having a discussion while they walk across trying to decide what shop to go to next, pushing a baby-carriage, where a tiny little pink, red nosed face with chubby cheeks, peeks out to gaze at the world passing by. The man carrying all the bags, and the woman pointing towards two different ways they can take.

A group of teenagers walking past, with a mixture of different clothing styles, three gothic, two skateboarder style. Discussing the latest star wars movie -oop, look at that, in the group a guy and a girl just shyly stole a glance at each other during the discussion. Crush? hehe

I'll stop now but I hope you got my point.

I like observing my surroundings, it's a nice break from everything else, just to zone out and just observe. Enjoy the life around you, look up at the sky every now and then, are there any clouds in the shape of a bunny? Is it raining? How is it raining? Soft pitter patter rain, or side-ways rain where an umbrella is even out of the question?

Is the sun out? How warm is the sunlight against your skin? Are all the birds flying outside, any wildlife?

Take in a deep breath, then let it out. Relax, and observe. You don't have to do anything about anything you observe, just... realize... you're here.. you're alive...and the world you're in is full of sweet little stories all around you. It's that amazing!?

Level 15

My wife is constantly telling me that I observe too much.

People around us, subtle cues to see what kind of mood a stranger may be in, clothing, vehicle colors, etc. etc.

In the Marines, we called this "Situational Awareness" and it is something that at its core is designed to help save lives. But I have found that in my professional career my now-passive skills of observation have proven exceedingly valuable.

A "fresh set of eyes" on a problem is somewhat useless if those eyes aren't observant.

Level 10

Many years ago, when traveling by air was fun, I enjoyed watching / observing if you will the traveler on the plane / in the terminal... it was called people watching.  In reality, I think it was taking the time to observe others... the way they dressed, their hair style, their height / weight... people from all over the country / world.  It was so much fun to see / observe the styles of others from places outside of our own microcosm.  Although not too philosophical, I did observe many neat things while sitting in an airline terminal or while flying.

Level 9

Give me understanding so i may speak your law and observe it with my whole heart

Level 9

Observation is education. You can understand a lot by just observing.

Level 10

i have observed that i can do many things when i set my mind to it.

Let's observe these commands and perhaps we may be better at what we do.