Matt Schmitz/ February 28, 2017

One thing I have found in IT is that sometimes the real question that needs answering is some form of: What is holding you back? Whether it be people who take longer to get to tasks they don’t like, or whole teams who think accomplishing something just isn’t possible. Change takes time, and we can get there one step at a time. Sometimes this change may be a problem with company culture, or maybe just individual accountability. There may be a simple question that can help solve this…

I learned this from the great boss I had a few years ago. He taught me a lot about how to improve as a professional, which has given me a bunch of habits that I still continue today. Earlier in my career, I would occasionally be given a task where I would put it off a little longer than I should have. For example, I might be asked to add a few new subnets to a site-to-site VPN tunnel between our main office and a remote office. Simple enough to do in theory, yet  I might put it off for a day or two longer than needed (especially since it wasn’t a high priority task).

Every day I would need to provide an update on the tasks I had been assigned, so after a day I would get the question “Well, you’re hesitating for some reason – So what’s going on?”. It’s a reasonable question and one I think that needs to be asked more often. When I sit back and think about it, maybe I am hesitating because of fear. Maybe I’m not confident in the change – Will the change drop the VPN tunnel? What if I lose access to the remote site? Usually this resulted in me realizing that either I just needed to do a little more research what I was doing or I just needed to push myself to get it done.

We are all human, and sometimes we let ourselves get held back by simple things. Even at my current job, I have watched people say that they will send an email to a vendor – but then take two days to send it. Could this be helped by just asking them why they are hesitating? Maybe they don’t feel comfortable communicating with that particular vendor (for any number of reasons). I’ve learned my lesson, and now every time I catch myself thinking “I’ll get to that later” I just ask “But why am I waiting”? It might seem ridiculous, but it helps. Figuring out what your big hesitation is will help you to stop using it as an excuse.

Push yourself through it. Be productive. Get things accomplished. Next time you catch yourself holding back, just ask yourself “why?” – and when you answer that question, hold yourself to addressing it.

About Matt Schmitz

Herding packets since 2007. Perpetually trying to automate myself out of a job. I believe that all problems can be solved by implementing more IPv6. Disclaimer: All opinions posted here are my own, and do not represent any vendor or current/former employer.

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