Some thoughts of your typical data shepherd / data plumber / data dance teacher sort of person.
Someone was reading one of my previous blog posts and noted a mistake. I was very thankful that the person had taken time to let me know. Whilst pondering this it got me thinking about managing my strengths and weaknesses. There is a saying develop your strengths and manage your weaknesses. The first step is to identify your strengths and weakness. Let me list a few of them below;
Written English - yes, it's ironic that I choose to spend time writing a blog, given that my spelking and grammar is one of my weakness. Disciplining myself to write a blog forces me to use the tools that I have to help me manage that weakness. Tools such as a spell checker is a heaven-sent tool. There is another tool called Grammarly, which is a combination of a spelling and grammar checker. This tool makes an excellent crutch :-)
Social skills - despite starting and helping to run the Glasgow SQL server user group. My soft skills are not my strength. It would be fair to say, social interactions are those which I find the most challenging. One T-shirt slogan 'I like to party (and by party I mean read books)' I can identify with. One approach I take to manage this weakness is to read books quite literally, and so I have read quite a few books on soft/social skills. These have taught me a few strategies and techniques I use in everyday life.
Finding solutions - it's what I do, give me a challenge and I will find a solution. During an interview for a role, and an issue was raised regarding getting reports emailed automatically to managers. The company had tried various solutions none of which worked, over a period of a couple of years. The solution took me over 6 months, involved some VBA, a spreadsheet, and an SSIS package. I was able to deliver a solution which worked. The solution was not pretty or elegant, that said it met the specification and most important delivered with the constraints that required to work within. Many months after leaving the company it was a delightful pleasure to hear my solution was still in place being used.
Having taken time to recognize my weaknesses and strengths that was the first step for me to improve. This blog post will have been read and then re-read. Passed by someone with better grammar and spelling than myself before publishing. This is my way of managing that weakness. On the other hand, my strengths will have been used in other ways. These strengths and weakness are a part of who I am. They can help me make a positive and unique contribution. Learning to work with them is what makes me just that little bit better each day.
The email telling me that I had been selected to speak was to say the least a surprise. My session “Soft Skills for Success” had been accepted for Data in Devon 2019. Yes I am very excited about the opportunity to speak in Exeter. My last time in Exeter was a school holiday many years ago, so the opportunity to return that beautiful part of the country is wonderful surprise.
It might seem a little strange that I was surprised that my session was accepted. However, I have been submitting sessions for a while now, most of which have been unsuccessful. This pattern is much like the one I experienced when I decided to moved careers into IT a couple of years ago and I was applying for IT roles. One of the lessons I learned during that time is that you are going to fail more than you succeed. So it pays to keep trying and mostly importantly learn from each failure and success. The current lesson I am learning is all about abstracts, how can I improve them? make them better? As I know if one strategy does not work, then I need review it, make a small change, then try the changed strategy, till I find the one that works, so that’s what I am doing with my submission abstracts.
To be invited to speak is to my mind an honour and a privilege. Why? People who I see as peers and who I respect have reviewed and considered the abstract that I have submitted, then invited me to speak. They are also putting their faith in me that on the day I will be there and will deliver a session which people will want to see / listen to / learn something from. When I get there on the day, yes, no doubt I will be nervous, worried, and have checked everything at least twice. Before the getting to the room on the day, I will have rehearsed the session, reviewed it been through it more than once. Just now I am working on tweaks to the session just for Data In Devon, if you want to know more you will have to attend the session.
The topic “Soft Skills for Success” is something that I am passionate about. So, I will be giving it my all. Like many projects that I work on, what people see is the final, smallest part of the project. Beforehand there will be a lot of unseen hard work to make it look good. The prize is worth the price, which is to be invited to speak to my peers about a topic that I am passionate about.