Thomas LaRock recently posted a blog post Luck, Preparation, and Opportunity on his blog that really rang true with my own personal experiences in life. I recommend reading his original post because it is really good, but one quote from his post "Luck is when preparation meets opportunity" really stood out to me both personally and professionally. In my life, I have been considered by others to be fortunate and in a number of cases that has been attributed to luck. I personally have to admit that my career has been built on a lot of being in the right place at the right time. However, I haven't ever considered myself lucky in any way.
My path to becoming a SQL Database Administrator was pretty short and the fact that I work with SQL Server today was completely accidental. I never planned to work with SQL Server as a career. In fact I started out wanting to be a History Teacher, that is until I actually did my required courses in college for teaching and had to spend time in the classroom. While attending college, I had a job working as a Service Desk Administrator where I spent my time at work logging tickets in a help desk application for problems reported by email. When my class schedule changed I was in a position where I could no longer work the hours required by this position and was looking to find a new job to support me through the next semester. At the time my employer was in the process of rewriting their core application that used SQL Server as a database engine and I was offered a job as an Application Analyst with the responsibility of researching bugs reported in the new application, determining the scope of impact by the bug, and writing specifications for correction by the development staff.
I'll be the first to admit that I had no idea what I was doing when they offered me this position. This was in 2004, and I hadn't seen or written code since Quick Basic 4 in DOS 6.22, and I didn't even know what SQL Server or a database was at the time. However, being a person who strives for complete success in everything I do, I put in many long hours and over six months and eventually I learned enough TSQL to not only be very dangerous, but be able to write reports and find problems and eventually find the bug in code that was causing the problem. In a previous post I wrote about The most influential people in your Technical Success? and listed three people who had a big part in mentoring me early on. After posting that blog post, I was contacted by them and they each pointed out that all they did was answer questions and provide opportunities, I was the one who put in the effort to get where I have gotten.
Opportunities exist all around us. The question is, do you recognize the opportunities that exist and do you take advantage of those opportunities to improve yourself, and or prepare for the potential future that is ahead of you? It is very easy to become complacent and/or stagnant in your current position. I know that I personally find myself getting into routines where things stop being challenging. When this happens I tend to become pretty miserable. I like being challenged, and I love to learn new things, it is part of the reason I blog, and answer questions on the forums, its always challenging. I don't know that I recognize every opportunity that is around me, but I try and look for them whenever I can. Often times I can add value to my position by simply paying attention to what is going on around me in the organization. I like to pay attention to comments that start with phrases like, It would be nice if.., Why can't this show me.., or other phrases that allude to a lack functionality in an existing application.
I'd have to say that much like Tom, I don't think that "Luck" has as much to do with success as being prepared at the time that opportunities present themselves, or at least willing to step up your game a little bit to make what needs to happen, actually happen. If you happen to wait for opportunities to fall into your lap, an expect that things will just work out, then yeah, I guess you might be lucky. For me, that's never happened, or at least I have never been patient enough to find out if it ever might. I'd rather roll the dice and make things happen.