Sunday, September 10, 2006

The One Thing

"I know that limp. I know the empty ring finger. And that obsessive nature of yours, that's a big secret. You don't risk jail and your career to save somebody doesn't want to be saved unless you got something, anything, one thing. The reason normal people got wives and kids and hobbies, whatever, that's because they ain't got that one thing that hits them that hard and that true. I got music. You got this. The thing you think about all the time. Thing that keeps you south of normal. Yeah, makes us great. Makes us the best. All we miss out on is everything else. No woman waiting at home after work with a drink and a kiss; that ain't gonna happen for us."

Conversation between John Henry Giles, a musician and the patient, with Dr. Gregory House. Taken from House, Season 1 Episode 9 "DNR"

What do you want to be when you grow up?

It's easier to answer this question when we were kids. We could reply wihout thinking: a doctor, police officer, kindergarten teacher, or even the president of United States. But when we grow up, our minds start connecting between what we want to be with our current condition. Take myself as example. When I took my mechanical engineering degree, I thought becoming one of the Formula One racing technical team would be my dream job. When I built small Jet Engine as my final project in university I thought my life would be ended in Boeing or McDouglas. And when I passed my first CCIE I thought I would become one of the guys who invent the next communication protocol.

Have I found what I want to be in life?
I'm not quite sure. But obviously it's a bit late for me to switch from my current field. So for the rest of my life I may need to deal with Networking. But netwoking contains lots of area such as security, wireless, metro ethernet, MPLS and so on. And as far as I know, I can't be good in all area. I need to focus. Focus, focus and focus only in certain area. Find the 'one thing' that I really want to do and become the best on it.

For quite some time, I thought CCIE would be my one thing. It's true to some extend. During my two CCIE journey, I didn't have any interest in life other than my lab console. I kept thinking about it, I forgot any other things in this world other than it, my mind was so focus to it. But it's only for temporary. Once I passed, I got back to normal life.

So what will be my one thing in life?
Again, I'm still not sure. I have been in Networking for more than 7 years and I have spent the last 5 years in network security related field. But I know my interest is not 100% in security. I can figure this out because I know if I really want to be the best in security then I have to learn programming language in-depth and OS memory allocation since those two are the main keys to understand zero-day buffer overflow attack. But I didn't do that.
So if it's not security what would it be?

I had a chance to chat with Dmitry Bokotey, a quad CCIE and author for several Ciscopress books, yesterday and he gave me the same advice: to be the best you have to focus in one area only. Working in multiple area can destroy my career and credibility. And it's better to sacrifice my income if that's the only way to be able to specialize myself. I have been in Enterprise network for quite some time working with routing, switching, wireless, network security and all other campus network components, so he advises me to jump to Service Provider.

Becoming a specialist in Service Provider technology like MPLS or metro ethernet is not a bad idea at all. Plus I'm planning to take the CCIE SP lab so I'm still in the right track. And I have a great interest everytime I read anything related to MPLS applications such as Layer 3 VPN or Traffic Engineering. Yes, I think I can do this. The only question is: can I afford to miss all other things in life to achieve something that I believe will be my one thing?

Do you think it's a good idea to want to be the best? Sacrifice everything for one thing that can make me great? Or perhaps it's better to stay as regular person but still able to enjoy my life?

As always, the answer is: it depends. Life is a matter of preferences.
But one thing for sure, if someone can stay focus in one area and trully believe in it, he can end up in a very special place. Stand out from the crowd. Far beyond the ordinary.

So what is your 'one thing', if any?


Anonymous said...

So true, dude.

Anonymous said...

It is all about your individual personality, of course. I get bored with things easily, so I prefer to be a generalist, with deeper knowledge in several areas. If I had the attention span, I think I'd specialize in DWDM, but hey, if my uncle were a woman, she'd be my aunt.

Anonymous said...

Being a specialist has its trade offs. In one end you will know everything about one area and be more appealing than the person who knows a little about everything, and the other end is that employment opportunities can be more difficult to come across because of focusing only in one area