The Value of Adventure

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One of the things that makes you a well-rounded person is adventure. But often, when one thinks of adventure, they think of fun, grand, and most likely, well-planned adventure holidays. Climbing the Matterhorn, crossing the Gobi desert, or perhaps most adventurous of all, navigating Disney World on July 4th (shudder). In each of these types of adventure, you will learn something about the world, and probably about yourself. Your chances of failure, while existent, are not super high because typically you will have an experienced guide with you (or the risk of danger isn’t terribly high, no matter how it feels trying to find a position to watch fireworks in front of Cinderella’s Castle.)

I don’t want to talk about that kind of chosen adventure today. Those kinds of adventures serve an essential purpose in making us well-rounded individuals. Lessons are learned, like when to not go to a theme park. But I want to talk more about the type of adventures that grow you quickly, typically through the application of the best teacher of them all…pain.

Some colleagues the other day were talking about disaster recovery (DR) (over lunch, as one does.) Thankfully DR is not a part of my current job, but it has been in the past. I never felt like anyone I worked with truly understood all the details of DR because none of us had ever actually been through it. We prepared plans in case our building/city was destroyed (or the power was just out for hours/weeks in our location). Still, honestly, (thankfully,) without having gone through a real disaster, we were just doing our best to guess what we would do.

Based on this current discussion we were having, we probably weren’t really doing enough. Still, it was also likely impossible to do enough testing for what happens if your primary data center (and all the local employees) have been vaporized. Academic knowledge is vital, but going through all the adventures of being a DBA or developer is where authentic learning comes from. Luckily most of these adventures are more like “computer crashed,” not our building melted.

Most DBAs have learned more about query tuning from poorly designed databases, uncommented (but well-written) code, or cases where we didn’t implement security well enough. They all became adventures, stories that coworkers shared over and over, reminding ourselves (and blog readers) that we didn’t want to do that again.)

These adventures are more than just regular activities. Real adventure, and it follows, life experience comes by taking on projects bigger than what you have ever done or what no one has ever done, sometimes by choice, and sometimes because of an unexpected catastrophe. Sure, you may fail, and it may not even come to anything. Still, going on adventure; you’ll learn and become a more well-rounded DBA developer, possibly even a person.