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John Sansom - SQL Server DBA in the UK

John Sansom (@SQLBrit) is a Technology Lead with the database team at Expedia, Inc. providing consulting services and support for one of the worlds largest SQL Server environments. Awarded the Microsoft Community Contributor Award (MCC) John can be found regularly blogging about Being a DBA and Professional Development over at www.johnsansom.com.

Career Growth and How You Can Achieve Explosive Results

Continued investment in your professional development for career growth is hard. It’s also essential to being a successful Data Professional.

You’ve got a lot of competing priorities, we all do, it goes with the territory of being good at what you do. Managing the demands and responsibilities of your job can consume a great amount of time, leaving little for everything else that’s important to you. Professional development and career growth can all too easily become a luxurious afterthought.

So when you do get time to focus on your professional development it’s vital that you maximize the return on your investment.

Let’s Hit The Gym

Career growth - Push Past Your Limits - Bench press

Push Past Your Limits

Keeping fit is a hobby of mine and I enjoy training several times a week. It’s quite common knowledge that regularly working out is good for your health, much like regular investment in professional development is good for your career.

Anyone who has ever worked out will tell you that when you start a new fitness programme you will often see quick and dramatic results.

This happens because the new stimulus to the body is a shock to the norm. It’s something that you are not used to doing and so the body has to adapt to cope with the new stress.

The more significant the shock to the system, the greater the reaction to adapt.

Unfortunately this dramatic growth period is often short lived. The body is very efficient at adapting and so as many a gym goer will attest to, results and ultimately progress can quickly plateau.

If you continue to just show up to the gym and go through the motions, you’re not going to make much progress.

The same is true of your professional development. Sticking to your preferred subject, reading the next chapter in that book or taking the next logical step, is comfortable. It may well be a small step in the right direction but you’re not really challenging yourself and the growth you experience will reflect this.

In order to break free from a plateau and promote new growth, the body needs to be challenged.

Breaking Out of Your Comfort Zone for Career Growth

You need to step outside of your comfort zone, to challenge yourself, in order to really grow.

By stepping outside of your comfort zone you:

  • Accelerate your growth
  • Amplify your growth
  • Broaden your experience
  • Increase your versatility
  • Challenge yourself

Taking on Your Own Challenge

What could you do to step outside of your comfort zone to expose yourself to increased career growth potential?

I bet when you think about it there are opportunities right there for the taking close by.

  • Maybe the development team are working on a project that you can stretch yourself and get involved with.
  • Perhaps your manager has a requirement to deploy an inventory system for your SQL Server infrastructure and maybe you could use PowerShell for the job.
  • Fancy trying your hand at presenting? Why not start with a brown bag lunch session at your office or smaller slot at your local User Group.
  • Thinking about getting a SQL Certification? Why not really push yourself by shooting for the MCM.
  • Is your company looking into alternative Database Technology? Maybe you could volunteer to learn and evaluate them, become the company expert.
  • Who said anything about SQL Server? I bet brushing up on those project management skills could come in handy.
career growth mountain

Which mountain will you climb?

Once you start brain storming ideas, you’ll soon discover that you are spoilt for choice.

As Data Professionals we really do have an abundance of opportunity for career growth and development. In the words of Thomas LaRock, “It’s a wonderful time to be in technology”.

Should you find that when you’re considering your own development options, the thought of pursuing a particular path gives you a sense of apprehension or nerve’s, then you’ve found exactly the right choice for you!

Stepping outside of your comfort zone is NOT easy and that’s the point. By taking on a more challenging venture you will significantly increase the return on your growth and development.

What could you do to step outside of your comfort zone? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments.

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