Always Learning

I don’t know how you consultants do it.  I’ve traveled for a week at a time, twice in two months – and have one more trip planned.  First to my company’s home office in Omaha at the end of March for Oracle OBIEE end user training.  Second, to our sister company in Columbus Ohio for OBIEE Admin training.  I’m writing this on the plane back from Columbus, at 10:40pm Central time – and I’ve been up and active since 6:00am.  In mid June I go to Atlanta for a week of Oracle ODI training; I may just drive that since it’s closer.  That’s a year’s worth of travel in just three months – nothing compared to those who travel to SQL Saturdays and other conferences every week, but way outside my comfort zone.

I once wondered if I was cut out for the consulting career path, and have been actively working to overcome every barrier and objection within me.  I’m not accustomed to pulling five 14 hour days in a row – but that’s what I did this week, and the trainers did the same or more.  I know, we’re all awake those hours anyway, but my mind isn’t accustomed to so much deep thought and shop talk – 8+ hours of training and then discussing architecture to, during  and after dinner.  I’m definitely not complaining – it was nice to discuss technical design and lessons learned with a brilliant team.  I’d compare this to running a 5K after being out of practice for ten years.  I need to grow the brain muscles again and get out of my comfort zone (aka daily grind).  The past two trips have definitely done that. 

I’ve been invited to be a part of a team and project that, if successful, can transform a multi-billion-dollar business.  Wait, what’s with the “if?”  This team has some of the best minds I’ve ever worked with, and we’re backed by world-class trainers who have trained teams on even larger companies.  This project will succeed, we’ll all grow with it, and the company’s quest for world domination will accelerate. 

Had I been asked to lead this, I would have chosen different tools, based on my own experience and prejudices.  I forced myself to unassume that Oracle was too big and expensive, and I can see how it’s a better fit for our purposes.   I forget where I read this, but I’ve tried to apply the idea that “the teacher must become the student.”  I can lead in what I know, but we all have to keep learning in order to grow.  I’m sure the trainers this week learned a thing or two as well.

Exit your comfort zone.  Go learn something you’ve told yourself you’d hate, or that seems too snobby, but this time keep an open mind.  Your new experience doesn’t have to be technical or a long trip – it can merely be trying a new food.  Make sure you always challenge your own status quo, and you will grow without even realizing it.


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