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Focus on Your Passion

Tuesday night I was having a conversation with my younger son, whom we call Turtle. It's a nickname that came from missions camp, because of his great love of turtles. For my oldest son, we told him that when he hit age 12, he would need to pick a musical instrument and this would become part of his homeschool curriculum. He chose the guitar, and so now we refer to him as Guitar Boy in public posts. My oldest has worked hard, taking weekly lessons and practicing nearly ever day. And when I say practice, I mean he is investing a lot of time and effort into it. He wants to master classical guitar. Part of the reason is we didn't dictate what instrument he would learn. We told him to pick the instrument he wanted to play. We've done the same thing with Turtle. His choice is coming up as he is 16 months younger than his brother.

Now Turtle does a lot of things off the beaten track. That's the way he is wired. So we went through a lot of instruments on-line, watching performers on those instruments, so he would get some ideas as to what he might want to learn when it is his time to choose. Among those we looked at were the double bass, pedal steel guitars, dulcimers of various types, Chinese and Japanese bamboo flutes, the koto, and, of course, bagpipes. The picture here is of The Citadel pipe band, who will be returning to the Edinburgh Military Tattoo this summer to perform (as part of the combined Citadel Regimental Band and Pipes). Unfortunately, I arrived at The Citadel one year too late to go the first time, but being a member of the Regimental Band and Pipes has left me with a love of bagpipes. However, Turtle has pretty much ruled them out. While I would love for one of the boys to learn them, if it's not their passion, I am not going to ask them to do so.

My wife and I had a long conversation about what instruments for the boys to learn a while back. We're both flutists. We both played french horn in high school as well. I learned trumpet, too. But our primary instrument is flute. If it were what would be easier for us, the boys would both be learning flute. Failing that, they would be on french horn. But I know what it's like to try and play an instrument that's not your passion. When I first started on flute, I hated it. For me, what changed my attitude was a book of sheet music with Japanese folks songs. Playing through the songs and being able to recreate the same songs that I heard around me constantly (we were living in Iwakuni, Japan at the time) changed my heart towards flute. I saw a lot of other friends who never grew to have a passion for the instrument they were assigned. They no longer play. As a matter of fact, most dropped out at the end of junior high school. So we came to the decision that the boys would pick their instruments, we would find them instructors, and we would encourage them and help them with the music theory aspect of learning how to play their horn (or guitar, as is the case with Guitar Boy). Turtle is undecided. He's leaning towards guitar, like his brother, but the decision will be his and his alone.

When it comes to what we do, we need to find where our passion is. I love SQL Server. That's why I chose to step back from an infrastructure architect role to become a DBA again. Active Directory, Citrix, and virtualization is great. Worrying about enterprise security? Not so much. I like to sleep at night. Tinkering with hardware is fun, until you have a whole batch of servers have the exact same motherboard issue and you've got development teams and end users all screaming about the fact that their servers are down and you're waiting on the vendor to bring parts on site. Bad queries? Fixing data models? Yeah, those are headaches. And they can be just as big of a headache as the other cases. But because I love SQL Server, that's just part of the fun. I know, it may seem crazy to describe troubleshooting poorly performing queries as fun, but that's what passion does. It turns what is drudgery and pain for another into something that is, well, fun, for the one who has a passion for that field.

When it comes to IT, there are so many things to do, so many technologies to work with. The thing is to find what you're passionate about. If you don't have the skill set for it, build yourself up. Take baby steps if you need to do so. Look for opportunities in that area. It's better to work in your passion, where it doesn't seem like work, then slave away at some area which you hate. Even if that other area pays a lot better, it's just not worth it in the end.

K. Brian Kelley - Databases, Infrastructure, and Security

IT Security, MySQL, Perl, SQL Server, and Windows technologies.


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