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FINDING RELEVANCE IN THE IRRELEVANT


Information Technology is one of the most dynamic professions to be in; it seems that there is change every few minutes, due to a young boy in Shengjing, Sao Paulo, Manila, Nairobi or California coming up with the next big “killer” application.

While a few individuals are constantly considered the vanguard of this advancement, many others are left to play catch up and retool every few months in order to remain relevant.
Every few months, thousands upon thousands of IT professionals take time, to re-certify, to re-skill and hopefully get a promotion, a business deal, a pay hike or just advance in life. And many a shrewd entities come up with IT oriented certificates to match the insatiable hunger for advancement. You simply have to do a simple search for the top 10 IT certificates globally, they are plenty a bunch.

After all this there is always the nagging question; if I acquire all these certifications, do they leave me a better technology person? Do they enhance me as a brand? Do they advance my career whether employed or self employed? So many questions remain unanswered.
Larry Page
The truth is that in life there are people who never have to certify to get recognition, they are considered titans in the information technology world. Dead or alive, when you hear names like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Larry Page, Segrey Brin, Michael Dell, Mark Zuckerberg, Mark Shuttleworth all these people never really have to conventionally retool like everyone else, but despite that they drive our perceptions and thought patterns. 

When I look at these people I come to one conclusion! And this is my theory! It doesn’t really matter how many certifications you obtain, but at the end of the day there are fundamental principles that you need to apply in your life, that need to guide you; through different fields, employers,  countries, cultures etc.
Through all this a verse in the Bible comes to mind, Ecclesiastics 9:11 it states “ I have seen something else under the sun: the race is not for the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all.”
No matter your proclivity, drive and station in life, chance does occur to all of us, the question is, are you ready to brace that chance when it knocks at your door step.  According to Richard Templar in his international best seller The Rules of work, you have to have principles that guide you through life and these distinguish the person who moves up the ladder whether employed or in a business arrangement.

Principles to apply
  • Never stand still, always strive to better yourself and improve your capacity, carve out a niche in an area where you become an authority, where other people will need to depend on you for direction.
  • Always under promise and over deliver, not the other way round (this is a hard lesson).
  • Discover what you enjoy, and do it. Be passionate about it but don’t kill yourself in the process, strike a balance in your life.
  • It is essential to develop the right attitude; give your best shot every single day until it becomes second nature and always be a 100% committed.
  • Never let anyone know how hard you work a good reference here is, never ask for an extension of a deadline, never ask for help; you can ask for guidance, advice, information, an opinion but never help it shows you are out of your depth, simply be very good at what you do.
  • Manage you energy, physically, mentally and emotionally. Your energy needs to always be there when it is needed.
  • Learn to ask why? Take an interest in the larger organization if employed or working for a client and not just your corner of it, ask questions always to build an understanding.
  • Know that you are being judged at all times thus; cultivate a smile, develop a perfect handshake, exude confidence and energy, be calm, speak well, write well. Pay attention to your personal grooming, impressions matter.
  • Know yourself, your strengths and weaknesses, a lot of people think that identifying their strengths and weaknesses means they have got to lose the bad stuff and only work with the good stuff. In the real world we all have weaknesses. The secret is learning to work with them rather than trying to be perfect, which is unrealistic and unproductive.
  • Dress, talk and act one step ahead of your comfort zone and what everyone around you expects from you. Cultivate strength of character, will power, determination, honesty, courage, experience, great talent, dedication, drive, nerve and charisma. 
    In conclusion, have a plan; know what you want in the long term, if you don’t have one it is very easy to end up where the current takes you, you have to have an end game, then understand and work out the steps to get there. 

Article done for CIO East Africa September 2012 issue
@edwin_moindi

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