mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

On not being the smartest guy in the room...

Last week, a coworker stopped by my office to pick up a piece of equipment. I started talking to him, and mentioned an issue I had been having for a long time with integrating audio drivers into the images that we use for deploying computers. Turned out that he had found a 3rd-party application that solved the problem a while back.

That made me feel pretty dumb, and angry at myself - especially since the coworker was a student employee.

Now, I work with a bunch of smart people, so I'm used to not having all the answers. But finding out that a student had solved a problem I couldn't was a blow to my ego.

The odd thing is I don't even consider myself that tech-ey a person. I'm not a programmer. Both of my degrees are in business, and I'd much rather be dealing with high-level business or management stuff than with nuts-and-bolts tech stuff. But there hasn't really been a need for that, and there have been a bunch of more tech-type things that have needed to get done, and since I'm always willing to learn something new, I've ended up doing them - things like maintaining our image or deploying software via SCCM, Microsoft's remote system management console software. I don't think I'm all that good at it, but I'm good enough to get what needs to be done.

I guess I've tried to make up for not doing what I really want to do by trying to be good at what I'm doing - and I guess that's why I get mad at myself when I realize I still have a lot to learn at it. It doesn't help that since I have my hands in a lot of things, I don't always have time to devote to mastering any of them - I often have to settle for doing something well enough so I can move onto the next thing that needs to be done.

The other reality is that even the smartest people need help sometimes. I can think of a few times where I've helped out people who are considerably smarter than I am, either because it was a problem that I had run into before and they hadn't, or because I brought a new perspective into things.

I was watching Law and Order tonight, and one of the cops made a comment to another - who wanted to work alone - that it was better to work with someone else because they could bring "fresh eyes" to the case. I think that's true in solving IT problems as solving murders - it's good to have another person's perspective. Our department at work is going through a number of changes right now, and one of them is a physical move that will combine our office with another one that does much of the same functions. It's a pain to move, but one of the benefits is having other people around to bounce ideas or problems off - to have "fresh eyes".

Of course, it means that I'll be even further down on the list of smartest people in the room. I just have to learn to accept that.


At 8:49 AM, Blogger tralatrala said...

How 'bout this; the smartest person in the room realizes that he doesn't know everything and is open to learning from everyone around him. It's part of our jobs, we don't function in a bubble, and you are not expected to know every detail. That's why the interweb is so awesome, it's changed the perspective of intelligence and learning. Each individual no longer needs to be a walking encyclopedia of knowledge because the details are now stored externally allowing for our brains to problem solve. Part of problem solving is knowing where to find the answers!


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