Learn to Drive
Imagine the world at 15. You’ve been riding in your parent’s car for years. You’ve been paying very close attention to where your favorite stores are, where your friends live, and the laws of the road (hah!) So why are they making you take this stupid drivers education class? First, because it’s the law in most states, but also because you shouldn’t be on the roads behind the wheel of a lethal weapon without the proper training and certification. Remember what it was like after you passed the driving test and went on your first solo drive? How lost were you? Suddenly all of those places you had been to a million times before were impossible to find. I came from the Mapsco generation and had to try to memorize a route so that my friends didn’t mock me during my drive. Think about how much harder it was to actually drive when you were on your own. That simple right turn you practiced over and over again? Suddenly the simplest task became so much more difficult. No one was there to bail you out or stomp on that shared break. No one was there to holler to LOOK OUT! So many things to remember all while trying to maintain the proper speed and avoid getting the dreaded ticket. 10 and 2, 3 second follow, don’t pass on the left, or was it the right?!
Now fast forward to today. You’ve been driving for years, and you don’t even think about where you are going and how to get there. Do you even remember driving to work today? You just “appeared” there after the allotted commute time. Scary as this may be, your brain has dropped into a level of near subconscious control or what’s referred to as unconscious competence. Cool. Now think back to last year when you got a new car. Took a few days to get the feeling just right, didn’t it? Your seat wasn’t in the right spot, the mirrors looked different. The steering wheel response was far more delicate. But in time your body and mind adjusted and you were back to your normal zombie commute. The other thing to note is that you didn’t need anyone to tell you how to adjust, you just did. Sure the dealer likely gave you an overview of the new car, but you applied years and years of practice driving that translated into that new car. Learning where the new knobs and buttons were was easy to figure out on your own.
Now take all of those years of driving and drop yourself into a race car. Holy smokes!! You really thought you could control this thing?! You may have thought you knew the physics of a turn. You thought you knew the right amount of pressure to apply to the gas pedal. Wait, is this a stick shift I need to figure out? Why is there an extra pedal down there? What do these buttons on the steering wheel do? Personally I learned to drive on a manual, so I have that going for me, but many of us have never driven anything but an automatic our entire lives. So it’d be super helpful for someone to give us a few pointers before they turned us loose on the track. I don’t need to start from scratch and go back to when I was 15 to learn everything about driving, but this new engine and new car definitely have a few features I need someone to show me how to operate. Where do I put in the gas? Does it even run on gas? Is there a key somewhere? What kind of crew do I need to keep it running at optimum performance? What’s the best way to speed through a turn? All questions that can be quickly answered by a professional. I could spend hours, weeks, and years taking advantage of that professional’s experience to learn how to best drive that car. Even after all of that instruction, would I put you in the Indy 500 next week? Of course not. But if you can start going 100+ miles per hour after some training and practice you’d be pretty impressed with yourself, as you should be.
Making service maps, discovering your infrastructure, managing multiple monitoring tools, and delivering orchestration or cloud management is no different. Sure you know the underlying technical details. Sure you’ve administered these systems for years. But you aren’t driving your daily commuter any more. You’ve been given the keys (or whatever starts that thing) to a brand new highly tuned platform that is capable of delivering mind numbing risk reduction and cost savings. If you get into this new engine with the expectation that you can “figure it out” you’re going to get out of it what you put into it. VERY LITTLE. Do yourself a favor and leverage the training that you need to understand how this platform works. After some exposure and practice, you can start pushing the platform to the limits. Eventually the unconscious competence will set it and that daily activity of is second nature and just happens in zombie mode. You don’t have to crack open the manual to remember how to change the spare tire. You just know.
There are two ways to get the knowledge you need. The pun was intended. Attend Knowledge17 (and 18, 19, 20…) and learn from your peers, from hands on labs, from sessions, and from pre-conference training (which happens to be far more affordable). Take formal training classes and then take them again in a year. You’ll learn something new every time, I promise. Engage with your account teams and take advantage of workshop and hang with your peers back home and see what they are doing with their “racecar”. Never stop practicing and never stop learning. In the end you’ll have the fastest lap time of your life!