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Shawn: Why I Do That Thing I Do

There’s a saying, “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.”

I’ve worked as a system administrator, educator, and manager in educational institutions for close to 20 years. While I might agree with that saying on a particularly frustrating day, on the whole, it’s just not true.shawn-why-I-do-email

There are certainly people in education who shouldn’t be there. Most of those folks started their careers with good intentions, but just lost their passion along the way. While those folks sometimes stick out in our minds, I can honestly say they’re the minority. The noisy minority, but the minority.

I think a better saying might go, “Those who can, do. Those for whom doing isn’t enough, teach.”

I love technology. I truly do. While technology doesn’t always improve lives in the way it was originally intended, much like educators, I think the positive influence outweighs the negative. We could bicker about the exact ratio, but at the end of the day, I have a passion for working with technology because I think it benefits the world.

The thing is, as much pride and ownership as a system administrator takes in their work, for some of us, it’s just not enough. My favorite career-memories revolve around solving huge problems. Whether those problems are a failed network, troubleshooting hardware errors, or designing an entire infrastructure to meet the needs of a client; troubleshooting and solving problems for people provides the joy that makes our jobs rewarding careers. And that joy is why I teach.

Every time I demonstrate a procedure, train on a particular task, or shatter the “mysteries” of Linux administration, I feel like I’m directly preparing someone for that same job satisfaction I’ve enjoyed over the years. I don’t train to help people get certified. I don’t train to help people get raises. I don’t even train to help people improve their skills. I train to give people the chance to experience job satisfaction. Life satisfaction. Accomplishment. Success. JOY.

When I sit down at my computer and create a CBT Nuggets video, I never think about preparing the person for a job, or test, or career advancement. No, if I’m completely honest, when I sit down and record a video, I think about changing someone’s world. Maybe certification is part of that change. Perhaps a job promotion will be one of the results. In the end, however, my motivation is far more profound. I want to change the world for the better. Hopefully when you watch my videos, you’ll want to do the same.


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