T-SQL Tuesday #112 – Dipping into your Cookie Jar

T-SQL Tuesday?

Participating in a T-SQL Tuesday is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. And I’m actually doing it now!
T-SQL Tuesday has some rules but to make a long story short, it’s a blog series where a host picks a topic and the entire community is invited to write about that topic. The host then creates a “round up” post that also includes some commentary.

The ever awesome Shane O’Neill (twitter | blog) is this month’s month. And Shane has asked that people write about what keeps us going through the difficult times. Those cookies in that cookie jar that you can dip into.
Something technical or non-technical, doesn’t matter.

I’ve been thinking if I should posting something and have had some ideas since I first saw the T-SQL Tuesday invitation. Today I was reading some of the posts already out there. And Andy Leonard’s submission (twitter | blog) motivated me to still participate.

Some background

You wouldn’t be wrong to call the first 24 years of my life a waste.
Apart from that, it hasn’t been easy either.
There’s a bit of a “chicken or the egg” dilemma in those two statements.
While it still impacts me, luckily from my current perspective as a 34 year old, I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter that much anymore.

Life is like a, erhm, jar of, erhm, cookies

In the few years I’ve been on this planet, I’ve learned to get energy from the little things so I can stay motivated. This is basically the cookie jar Shane is talking about.
Somewhere during my first 24 years of life, I read about some Buddhist ways.
This somehow got mangled up and stuck in my head and I started living by what I remembered.
– Don’t yearn for anything, it will only bring you sadness.
– Be positive as hate and negativity in general will only erode yourself.
– Whatever you do, act out of kindness towards others and help them first.
– Always tell the truth

While I’m not perfect, I still try to hold myself to this every day.
And yes it’s hard as people don’t know how to react or even tend to abuse you or just “outplay” you since you’re just playing very straight forward with no ulterior motives.

Cookie 1 & 2

After “the dark ages” came 2 years of my life that gave me a ton of perspective. I worked at a help desk in a call center and just did my job as good as I could.
Good enough for the teamcoach and HR guy to tell me if they could clone me, they would.
First cookie in the jar!

Later my colleagues, whom I didn’t have that much contact with, ensured I got a small “promotion” away from the phones and towards the backoffice.
Whatever their reason for lifting me up, It was an awesome time that changed all of our lives in a positive way.
Second cookie in the jar!

Cookie 3 & 4

The 4 years after that, I worked at a different call center, first for a short period as a sales agent, then 3.5 years in IT.
My team coach, who was having a hard time herself in a political minefield, strongly suggested I apply for a part-time job in our IT due to what I was doing with Excel to manage sales calls.
At first it was manually composing reports in Excel through a horribly painful manual way of typing all the data in Excel.
As lazy and quickly bored as I am, I started automating my work.
Ultimately I ended up connecting to a SQL Server 2005 database and writing queries in excel to pull in all the required data.
My team coach going out of her way to help me grow is my third cookie in the jar

The call center grew from 20 people to 300+ people and ultimately I had to learn more of the Microsoft BI stack to stay on top of things. At my first conference I ever attended, I sat in a session by Kevin Kline (twitter | blog) who gave, something like “10 tips for SQL Developers”. Some people weren’t impressed, I was.
One of the tips was to join twitter, even if only to read all the #SQLHelp tweets and read what others are saying.
Kevin changed my life by introducing me to the #SQLFamily. I count this moment as my fourth cookie, as I was lucky enough to experience this small but life changing thing. Through the community I learned a ton of cool stuff and becoming active on twitter impacted me in an even larger way.

Cookie 5, the chocolat chip one with Oreo filling!

In the almost 5 years since I moved on to a consultancy firm, I’ve slowly become more active in the community.
It all started innocent enough tho. Speak at a local user group, interact with more people on twitter, tweet interesting and helpful things.

Until it all exploded exploded about 2 years ago!
I’m lucky enough to have been chosen to deliver about 50 sessions in the past 2 years.
Through that I met a LOT of very smart people that I knew from twitter and that I looked up to (and still look up to!).
And through these awesome people I’ve learned and grew in ways I couldn’t have ever imagined.
Recognizing that not everyone is as lucky as me to experience all of this, I fondly think back to meeting these people. They helped me set up user groups and a conference and through that help me help the community.
So for me this is the biggest cookie that will keep me going for a looooong time to come.

Looking at my cookie jar

I’ve been very lucky in past years with several people giving me chances that I’ve fully used.
And thanks to the community my life has changed even more for the better and through the community I’ve made some great memories that will likely keep me going through some rough times.

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