Tim O’Reilly has written some great pieces over the years on many aspects of technology and change. I’ve followed him for years and I’ve enjoyed many of his thoughts and views on our industry. I think he’s thoughtful and truly envisions the amazing things that technology can do to change the world, mostly for the better. I think it’s worth randomly reading through (or listening to) some of his thoughts.

He recently wrote a long piece on the failures he’s had in business with his company, O’Reilly Media. It’s an interesting tale that looks at process, at mis-communications, and business. I think about my career, looking back on past decisions, looking at the way in which companies I’ve been associated with are run, and at the way that others around me have worked. I realize that there are many failures to go with the successes in my life. The piece made me take a good, hard look at my past, drawing parallels to the ways in which leadership at O’Reilly has worked as well as how it has come up short.

This week, Mr. O’Reilly’s look back led me to this question, which I don’t expect to get many responses from. However I do hope it makes you think, and examine where you are, how you got here, and perhaps where you’d like to go from here.

How have you failed in your career?

Maybe you should compare your own experiences to those of Mr. O’Reilly, and think about how you might manage your own business, the business of running your career, differently.

Like many people, at times in my career I have bounced  from job to job, often taking a position that was available rather than deliberately thinking about my future and moving in that direction. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the last ten years, it’s that I should think deliberately think about what I like and don’t at work. I should honestly state to myself what I want to do and what isn’t worth the pay. 

I re-examine my career each year, and seriously consider alternatives. I’ve been lucky in that I work for an amazing company and have a great job. No other alternative has measured up against my job so far.

However I also realize that I’ve had some failures before this success, and I hope not to repeat many of them in the future by learning from my past.

Steve Jones

The Voice of the DBA Podcast

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2 Responses to Failure

  1. Over the last 18 months or so, I left a company I was with for years as I was no longer being challenged, I took another job because I thought it would bring excitement and new challenges, and in the end I found my way back to data as a DBA.

    I took my first hard look at data as a career about 10 years ago, but ended up going after what as available. It was not until a year ago when I decided to interview for a DBA job, that was likely above my skillset, did I truly make the jump into data as a career. Today is my last day at this job as it was a simple 1 year contract, but in selecting my new job I have turned down request for interviews and even turned down better paying jobs, all because I am now in control of my career, and I will not let anything offset my path any longer.

    I will no longer ignore what I enjoy doing, I truly wish I would have followed my heart 10 years ago instead of becoming an IT gypsy with knowledge all over the board. Who’s to say if that gypsy experience has helped or hurt me, but I know what home feels like in a career, and I’m home.

    Great article BTW


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