Successful people like to know and understand the intricacies of their subject of work. This way they gain control over the subject they are learning about, which would help them when making decisions.
Every successful professional or business person have some things in common. One trait that stands out is that we teach ourselves whatever we need to learn in order to gain an edge. In my case, when I was starting in a new job or when building a business, I taught myself the aspects of the subjects I needed to learn in order to make better decisions which in turn made me an SME (Subject Matter Expert) in that particular subject.
The reason I became an SME in particular areas was that I learned several ways on how not to build a system or not to build a business. In other words, I failed during several of these processes which is how you really learn. When you teach yourself how to do things you need to have an open mind.
What I mean by having an open mind is that you need to be prepared to fail as many times as you have to in order to learn how not to build or create something. This goes to both, the professional and the business person. I’m just providing the very definition of the term experience.
It is easy to have experience in something that you keep repeating over and over, without any repercussion of the consequences. It is difficult to have experience when you took a risk in learning something new that added some form of value and growth for your profession or business. The former is just a form of automation while the latter is a form of learning something new.
How to teach yourself
Professionals learn skills in order to add value to their resume and to be able to charge more for the services they provide.
Business owners learn methods to add value to their assets in order to keep these assets protected and growing.
For example, let’s compare how to build a server today versus 1990’s. In the 1990’s, which is when the technological boom occurred, we had to build our servers and systems manually. From server acquisition and its required components to the software required to run it, everything was installed and configured manually.
No GUI wizard to guide us during the installation. No “plug ‘n play” for installing the drivers for the components. We had to manually install each driver for each required component. If there was any conflict between the components, then we needed to troubleshoot and figure out what was happening, without “googling” the problem.
Yeah, this was a “Once upon a time when there was no Google” type of scenario.
You might think that it was too much work. Yes, but it gave me an exposure and an edge that many in the industry today don’t have or can’t conceive or understand. That edge is about learning and understanding how each component worked. From hardware to software I had to learn how everything within the system worked which as a consequence made me an SME in that particular area during the time.
Today, building a server is as easy and cheap as buying a VPS host for $5 a month, install and configure it via a GUI wizard with any Operating System this particular host offers and you are done. Even kids offer youtube tutorials on how to do this.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad we’ve got this far in this aspect.
The problem comes when you or anyone want to get a job or are looking to learn about Information Technology or Cybersecurity and face the frustration when competing out there with the Pros. These Pros know what they are doing and they became as good as they are because they did what I’m telling you.
They learned how to build a system from the ground up, then break this system, then build it up again and again. Every single time they face a problem they search for a solution on how to fix it, without using any automated restore point system, but by rebuilding the whole system manually.
For example, let say that you build a system using VMware. You created a server and installed the system on this particular server. We all know that VMware provides a way to automatically restore points based on imaging and this is a great utility, but not all companies are allowed to use this option based on the complexity of their production business.
Even in the best-planned scenarios based on the DRP (Disaster Recovery Plan) exercises, there is always something that won’t let you use this option, for which you’ll have to troubleshoot the old fashion way.
In highly regulated companies, such as Pharmaceuticals, their manufacturing processes are bound to procedures which are audited periodically. This means that you can’t just shut down a system just because you think you have to. This has happened to me and many others where the company is in the middle of a production and a particular system that is being used in the process become unresponsive or it isn’t registering any data and can’t be interrupted because if you do then it could cost millions in losses.
So the question is, What would you do?
The advantages of knowing and understanding the intricacies of how a system operates and works are that you can troubleshoot it without having to incur in losses for the company. I mean, that is why you are there, correct? Or at least that is how everyone else sees you.
This is one of the worst scenarios that you could have and you have to be prepared to face it. This is only one of many reasons why you should teach yourself about cybersecurity or any information technology related subject. You need to be prepared for anything and everything. Befriend Murphy and learn from his laws.
I’m not saying that you need to know every single IT related subject out there. What I’m saying is that you need to master the job that you were hired to do. Pros know this because they understand how the basics work and how every single component interacts with each other.
Read “What Skills Are Needed For Cybersecurity” for more information.
You have to understand that you can only achieve this by practicing. In the field of Information Technology and cybersecurity, the only way you can learn is by experiencing everything yourself. Make sure you have your own cybersecurity lab in place. No amount of knowledge and experience will come to you just by reading but by hands-on experience.
Knowing where everything is, how it works and how each part fits together will save you time and also your reputation. Your job, as well as your profession, will always be on the line because that’s part of our duty. The only thing keeping us alive as professionals are our own initiative to keep learning and also practicing everything we learn.
I hope you understand how critical it is to keep yourself not just updated with the required skills to perform your job in the information technology or cybersecurity field but to also keep yourself motivated and always have the initiative to teach yourself about information technology or cybersecurity by starting with the basics.
by Edgar Vera, MS Cybersecurity