I just finished Be The Master, 2nd Edition. As someone who is considered the team expert in several technologies, I am responsible for teaching less experienced tech professionals my tradecraft, so they can rise in their stations, but also so I can “move around the cabin” when necessary or even change planes, as opposed to being seatbelted in my seat on the one plane, for an entire flight (following Don’s aviation references here).

However, what this book made me realize is that I’ve been so focused on how to be a Master at work, that I’ve neglected how to be a Master at home.

I have 2 young children, a 9 year-old son and a 14 year-old daughter. Most of my time is spent working, and when not working, I spend my time thinking about work, reading about technology, playing in my lab, etc. As I read Dons’ book, I realized that I have never taught my son how to ride a bike, catch a baseball, practice Sanchin (for my Okinawan Karate Masters out there), etc. What was even more shocking, is when I realized what I WAS teaching my kids: language, how I treated coworkers, anger management, etc.

We are Masters to our children, whether we accept that role or not, and they will learn from us whatever we teach them, whether we realize we’re teaching them or not. We can be Masters in many facets of our lives, sometimes without even realizing it.

Thank you Don. This book has made a difference.

Be a “Master” to Your Family

I love hearing how people – especially ones from my own field of information technology – look outside the workplace for their apprentice audience. I recently received this inspiring story:

I presented [a] talk to about 90+ people, we had a bad storm that passed through. It was at a family day and consisted of grandparents, extended families and friends that help raise the kids. I based my presentation on my ER Go bag that we have all the time. I showed the checklist I used to stock the bag. I used that as a starting point on which all travel should be based. It was not the most polished or organized presentation, I got some of the medical/legal document names wrong but the concepts were communicated. Medical Power of Attorney for example.
The most rewarding part was after the talk, I had 3 families that mentioned they were going to make their own ER Go bag and how much they appreciated a parent sharing info based on personal experience. We also got volunteers to do another presentation on back to school in July. There are a lot of issue with bleeding disorders and solutions that need to be communicated to new parents.
The 4 of us will be presenting in a panel format. I think seeing a fellow parent get up their and present (as amateurish as it was) but still getting people to pay attention and learn something, showed them that they can do it too.
I just thought you would like to know, how that one quote/blog post has started something that I hope will grow bigger and help others in our situation.
You have made a positive impact on a lot of lives outside the tech world.
This just highlights how Mastery – even on a small scale, in a seemingly unexciting area, can have a positive impact on people. You only need to help change one life to make it all worthwhile, but once you’ve helped change that one life, you’re going to be hooked, and you’ll end up changing many more.

Mastery isn’t Just for Work

Thank you for your writing. I’m part of a 2 person IT dept for a small energy company, I do presentations and training at work. This is easy for me to prepare and present. I know the material, the audience and the software/hardware involved.

I learned Powershell in a month of lunches and from your presentations online. That has helped in my career, however your writing about teaching and being the master or going away has had more of a lasting impact on my family. I think this will be something that will help more people than anything I ever do at my job with Powershell.

“Teaching does not always feel rewarding. It doesn’t need to be. It is a repayment of something that was done for you. It is not a good thing that you do; it is an obligation that you have.” This is the quote that got me thinking about what I can do to help others in our situation.

I volunteered to present a talk (in between 100-150 people) on travelling with kids who have serious medical issues. This will be at the end of April and will have nothing to do with my core competency in technology. I do have a son with a serious medical issue and have a lot of experience with travel etc. I was fortunate enough to learn from a great nurse who has since passed away, and now I feel that it is my duty to pass that knowledge on from a parents perspective. If it only helps ease the burden a little bit for someone, I have fulfilled my obligation and it will keep me going.

Finding Your Apprentice(s)