T-SQL Tuesday #097: Learning Plans

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Published on: December 18, 2017

Stylishly Late

I am fabulously late and therefor breaking the guiding rules that make up TSQLTuesday. Where’s the ruler to slap my fingers as I blatantly type this post so late?

Well, I did ask for a special pardon from the host this month. My friend Mala Mahadevan (blog | twitter) is hosting this month and she has proposed a pretty sharp topic. Mala has asked that we essentially write about our learning objectives for the 2018 year. Not just the objectives, but also the plan to get there.

I pondered the topic for a while and had my plan formulated for the content. This is an important topic no matter when the blog post is written or even what stage of your career you happen to be in.

I have heard more than a handful of people say things like “I am a senior level, I don’t need to learn anymore!” or “I have a doctorate!” as they turn their nose to the pitiful idea that they could learn something. This is what that post is going to touch on – learning when you have nothing to learn.

A shout out is absolutely necessary for Adam Machanic (twitter)for picking the right blog meme that has been able to survive so long in the SQLFamily. This party has helped many people figure out fresh topics as well as enabled them to continue to learn.

My apologies up front for what is a really late TSQL2sday article

Life Long Journeys

Let’s lay it out on the line up front. I was one of the few that was able to achieve the MCM certification before it became a relic. That achievement by no way means that I know very much about SQL Server. I see myself as a noob very frequently within the realms of SQL Server. I have barely scratched the surface and the surface continues to get thicker and richer as Microsoft continues to roll out new features and some pretty fabulous enhancements with SQL Server.

With the technical aspects of SQL Server, despite my frequent feeling of being a noob, I do find that my learning plan has not evolved very much. I do continue to strive to perpetually learn about SQL Server and features. My plan there is pretty straight-forward, be humble and accepting and try to learn.

I learn from sooooo many avenues about SQL Server. One of the best avenues that I need to devote more time to in the next year will be in the forum support area. It never ceases to amaze me how easy it is to learn more about SQL Server when trying to help somebody else. So that is the second aspect of my plan – help others and therefore increase my learning opportunities.

What about with other technologies? Over the past year, I have been spending more time trying to learn about two other technologies – Teradata and MySQL. This brings me to the third aspect of my plan. Find something challenging and interesting. Raise yourself to the challenge and meet it. Both of these technologies are significantly different from SQL Server and require a serious overhaul of what has been learned to try and re-apply it.

All of this is pretty cool from a technical perspective. I do believe that these basic pillars or attributes (humility, help, challenge, be interested) apply to anything one is trying to learn. And today, I am setting forth a goal to help me learn better communication skills. These attributes I have discussed will help me with that. That said, I also believe that communication skills are very important for technologists and most technologists need to improve that skill-set.

The Goal

I can see all of the eyeballs out there start to roll to the back of the head (where they are likely checking for cracks or holes, right?). Every data professional out there is undoubtedly perfect in their communication skills, right? I know that I am far from perfect at this. A direct example is that I am a bullet point type of person when it comes to email. Some people take offense at it thinking who knows what. So, to address an issue like that, I need to find a way to make the emails appear softer and that can be achieved through lengthier emails.

One way to practice writing more flowery and softer emails is through writing blog posts. This provides me with practice in writing lengthier explanations in lieu of a quick blurb. Sometimes the lengthy explanation is necessary. Sometimes finding a way to illustrate the topic with a lengthy parable is better than getting all technical. The end result is to become better at communicating via the written word and blogging helps me to achieve that.

The next item for the learning plan for 2018 is also related to communication. This is in an effort to try and be more understanding of the what and why in a situation. This is hard to describe but boils down pretty closely to empathy but is not entirely that. It is more about connecting to the actual person and situation rather than giving the old nod and yeah. The only thing that I can envision to help with this is to practice practice practice.

TSQL2sDay150x150The Wrap

This was an exceptionally late contribution to tsql2sday and by all rules, is not technically a part of that party. Regardless of that, it is important enough to me to still give at least some effort to finish the write-up that I started well before TSQL2sday started and ended.

No matter our status or learnedness in life – there is always something more that each of us can learn. It is important to devote some time daily, weekly, monthly, yearly to continue to learn. If you are not progressing, you are regressing. In the same vein, if you are not learning, you are regressing.

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