Russ Thomas – SQL Judo

The Art of SQL Server Database Administration, Development, and Career Skills for the Technically Minded

Experience; There is no Substitute

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog post entitled experience is over-rated.  Today you’ll get a little peak inside my mind while I counter that original argument myself.  Experience, there really is no substitute kids.


This morning the SAN guy contacted the DBA team with a question… “Why has your backup drive grown by nearly a quarter terabyte in the last couple weeks?”  One of my top tier folks started poking around and found that one particular database had an .mdf footprint of around 50GB and a full backup on the backup LUN of over 250GB.  What the heck is going on, they ask.

We didn’t have to troubleshoot, … in fact, we barely looked up from what we were doing.  “Backup policy is set to append instead of over-write someone quipped”.  (You see, we keep only one full backup on our backup LUN, we then have some SAN magic that snaps our backups around for redundancy and longer term DR storage).  Are we that good?  Do we know everything instinctively?  I wish.  I and others like me have just seen that one before, and it’s signs are always the same.

A newish DBA might have burnt an entire morning poking around, googling, researching, before identifying the issue.  On our team however, it barely interrupted our morning ritual of making fun of the developers.  Having people who’ve been around the block is invaluable.

Have you ever heard of strength finders?  It’s a professional development program that focuses on helping individuals discover what they’re naturally talented at.  It takes the stand on the movie Rudy, for example, as a complete waste of time.  Here you have a kid that dedicated his entire college life towards a dream that culminated in him playing a few minutes in the final game of a season that had already come to an end, after the outcome of that game had already been decided.  That was his reward for a lifetime of effort and several painful years.  What a waste of time, says strength finders.  What if he’d dedicated himself to something he actually had talent in?  Now, while I appreciate the pragmatic approach – I can’t say I entirely agree, I like a good under-dog story – and Rudy was a great story, but it is something to think about.  But…, I digress.

Strength finders identifies a strength and then gives you hints to maximize it as an asset.  After all, every strength has an equal liability.  I for example, according to strength finders have a talent for winning others over.  A strength they call WOO.  The liability of this strength however is that I can be manipulative if I’m not careful.

I find this same concept alive and well in experience.  Knowing stuff without having to hardly think about it is a great asset.  An amazing time saver.  The liability is when it prevents you from considering additional considerations, or disbelieving science when fact is staring you in the face and your original stance is just plain wrong.  Some people rely too heavily on experience and that is when it becomes a liability.

I want to be around people who have the chops and experience to just get crap done.  I just also value folks who pair that with an insatiable curiosity about …. everything.


One comment on “Experience; There is no Substitute

  1. Pingback: (SFTW) SQL Server Links 24/07/15 - John Sansom

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This entry was posted on July 22, 2015 by in Career Skills.
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