Why I Would Like to Be Mentored

SELECT * FROM Problems WHERE IsActive = 1


Hello World (and Paul Randal!),

I am an SQL Server DBA with ~18 years experience. I started my database career early, only working in clerical for a couple years before getting into database systems. No beginnings as a programmer, networking, helpdesk, or whatnot. Straight to SQL Server.

I have some old Microsoft Certifications (circa SQL Server 2000 and Windows Server 2003), and hold Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. I have accomplished much and I have my dream job.

I’m competent, but I lack some skills that are preventing me from becoming the employee/DBA/community member I can and need to be. 


I am writing this blog post in response to Paul Randal’s offer to mentor people. 

I have followed Paul and his wife Kimberly for years on their website, and I have seen Kimberly speak in person at DevIntersection conferences. I could use mentoring help from someone as confident and blunt as I’ve seen Paul be on his blog over the years 😊 


Problems I need help with:

  • Confidence/Assertiveness
  • Conquering Fears

Short list, but I’ll explain what I mean by these.


Confidence/Assertiveness

This one is hard to explain, because in my head, I do believe in myself and my abilities. But I have trouble portraying this when I’m around others. I’ll agree rather than disagree, I’ll struggle voicing my opinion if it differs from others’, and I flee from conflict. I have a hard time speaking up at meetings.

I don’t know if it’s maybe “Imposter Syndrome” from largely working alone, in a bubble, most of my career, making me second guess myself when I'm around others.... But there it is. 

And while I’ve improved over the years, I haven’t been able to get over this yet.


Conquering Fears

This is likely an extension of the first problem, but there’s a few fears I need to get over.

Public Speaking

I don’t aspire to be a “speaker”, but at my age and professional level, there’s no excuse for not being able to present at meetings and hold training sessions for my peers without fear or nervousness. I even used to teach high school students years ago, which also made me nervous at first. I got over it at the time, but I never got over being nervous presenting to the staff.

I mentioned seeing Kimberly speak at conferences - she embodies the level of confidence and conviction in her presentations that I would like to achieve some time before I die!

Blogging

I’ve started many technical and personal blogs over the last 20 years, but each time I only get a few posts into it and I can’t bring myself to write anymore. I get a nagging fear of not being good enough, of not being as good as other bloggers, of random internet commenters attacking me, which makes me not want to write anymore. So I stop and let my domains expire, even though I loved writing the posts, and am happy to help people.

Doing the Hard Things© that DBAs Need to Do

This one’s odd for me because in general I don’t have fear of doing difficult, complex things. Those are all fine. 

The things that bother me though are things I’ve never done before, or things that can lose data if something goes wrong. Clicking the button for the first time on a command or script on production even if I’ve run them a million times in dev. It takes me ten minutes to get up the gumption to click the final Ok or Run button and I don’t know why. But it would be nice to not waste time on this, it feels silly. I try to tell myself it’s because I’m responsible, that maybe more people should octuple check their commands before they run them like I do, but I’m pretty sure I’m excessive about it. And as I’m writing this, I’m also now realizing maybe I (subconsciously) drag my feet on some projects because I subconsciously worry about having to click that Final All Important Button in the future. Hmmm....


Recap

I can’t count how many things these issues have affected in my life inside and outside of work - in the past, the present, and in the future. 

I want to fix them, I just don’t know how beyond the JFDI approach (coined by stackoverflow user gbn 😊), which is a terribly difficult way to go about these types of things.


I need guidance, and I can’t think of a better person than Paul who (in my opinion) has had the scariest SQL Server job I can think of - rewriting checkdb and being the ultimate expert on fixing database corruption.


Regardless whether I am chosen as a mentee, I’m going to consider this (very open) first blog post as my first brave step into the open, into the SQL Server community. With hopefully more steps to come 😊