I was laying in bed Christmas night watching “Holmes on Homes” on the DIY channel, and something bothered me. I had a thought that just would not go away, so I decided to write about it. For those of you unfamiliar with the show, Mike Holmes is a Canadian general contractor who visits homes where previous contractors have done work that was poor quality or flat out wrong. He eventually fixes everything by tearing it all down and starting over. Now, I’m no handy man, but I do the best I can when things go awry at home. However, I do enjoy or appreciate watching someone else who is an expert at their craft and loves what they do perform top quality work. Mike is just that: a person who loves helping uninformed individuals trying to improve things at home by cleaning up after his predecessors and doing things the right way.
I do not know why watching the show that night struck a major nerve with me when I’ve seen it so many times before, but I do know that it made me reflect. I reflected on my short career thus far in networking, and the many things I’ve seen, done, and learned in such a short amount of time. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m no expert at any one thing, and that I’m not even average at more than a handful of network-related technologies. However, there are a couple of things that have remained consistent and have not wavered since I began working at the age of 16 as a bag boy in a New Jersey supermarket. I’m a hard worker, and I take pride in the work that I do. Whether it was bagging groceries, packing delivery trucks at FedEx, writing weather forecasts in the US Air Force, or configuring EIGRP on the network I currently help administer…I have always given and will always give anything I’m working on my best effort, because I care about the quality of my work and the service I’m performing for others. This is not just because my paycheck or my end-of-year review depend on it, but because it gives me satisfaction in knowing that I gave something my all and left nothing to chance. It feels good when I’m able to make things work in a desired manner where it helps someone or provides a service. Of course, I have received bonuses, raises, and promotions as a byproduct of my hard work and quality but then again, the money and performance reviews aren’t my main motivation.
So, what am I getting at? I believe mediocrity has slowly crept into not only the IT field, but society in general. Too often, individuals aim for just good enough instead of perfection, or they look for a monetary bonus or raise the first time they do something well. What’s wrong with aiming for perfection all the time and at worst falling a little bit short? What happened to self-satisfaction in knowing that you did things the right way and gave everything you had? I think we would all agree that nothing’s perfect, but being as close to perfect as possible is a lot better than being closer to average or below average. Even if you aren’t an expert at something – like Mike Holmes is at building homes – it doesn’t mean you can’t try to become one by putting in the time and doing all the little things that will help you get there. Start with the little things like arriving to work on time, staying a little later when necessary, and helping your peers with their projects even if they don’t ask. If you are going after a certification, read the study material, watch the videos, take notes and ask questions when you have them. Whatever you do, just don’t BRAIN DUMP! It will only hurt you later on down the road. And if you find yourself with some free time at work, instead of logging into Facebook or watching Netflix/Hulu, document those projects you’ve been meaning to or find areas where you can improve the network. Nothing to improve on you say? Are you hiring?
My point is to take pride in everything you do no matter what it is, and I think you’ll come out better for it in the end. Don’t be the person who comes to work everyday, but doesn’t care about what it is they’re doing and never makes a difference. Instead, put your best foot forward, aim for perfection, and make mediocrity a thing of the past!