I recently sent an email where I listed the real secret to succeeding in IT. Since this is not the first time I have revealed this method to someone, I have decided to reveal it to everyone.
I have learned the real secret to success in IT, and if you promise to share it with others, I’ll tell it to you. Firstly, be aware that you don’t have to know everything. In fact, I give you permission to not have all the answers. This is a mistake many IT people make. They think that if they admit they don’t know something, somehow they will be looked down upon, by their peers, bosses and clients. My personal experiences are quite the opposite. In fact, once you get into the habit of telling the truth about your skills, not only will your skills increase as you research the questions you are being asked, but people will have more confidence in your abilities because you will be known as someone who tells it like it is.
Secondly, when you are trying to learn a new skill, there are two things to do. Get a “Dummies” book and read it. Don’t buy a thick book which looks good but you can't understand. Get the simplest book on a topic you can find. If you look at my bookshelf, you will see quite a few “Dummies” books and many other simple books on a wide variety of topics. The next thing to keep in mind here is to surround yourself with people you can discuss your IT difficulties with. This is why being involved with a User Group is so important. If your not plugged into the community, you are missing your greatest opportunity to increase your knowledge!
The last thing to keep in mind is this, be positive about your skills. If you are not positive, think about the problems you have solved in the past. I am sure you have solved many problems! This will reinforce the fact that you can do it! Sounds corny but it works. For those days where this is a challenge or you are faced with a problem that seems overwhelming, do this. Celebrate your small successes. Most problems in IT can be broken into chunks. For example, if the network crashes, don’t panic and focus on the final end result of the network coming back up. Instead, celebrate the fact that the server rebooted and came back up, then celebrate that fact that Internet access has been restored, then celebrate the fact that the users can now print. Now when it comes to the users not receiving email, you have already had some success in solving problems so you can relax and work on the Exchange Server knowing you have fixed some issues already. If there are areas you are not feeling confident in go back to rule number two, but this time you might not have time to read a book. The second part of this is the key. If you are talking to other IT professionals on a regular basis, you should have a list of contacts you can call on when you have problems you can’t immediately solve, then go back and read up on the problem. If you keep good notes about your problems, this will be easy. Now, you have effectively done two things, firstly you have something you can read up on and secondly, you now have a story to tell other IT professionals about!
The simple truth is IT is all about attitude. If you are arrogant and portray the image that you know everything, you will be humbled quickly. If you approach IT humbly, sharing what you know with others, you will be respected and trusted. The problem with IT is there are far more of the first type of IT people than the second, my promise to you is to be the second type!