Black Belt Systems Administration: Embrace Your Limits

Systems administrators are magical wizards that know everything and can make computers sing, dance, and do various other parlor tricks. As someone who carries the title, everyone assumes you can do the same. Whether it is a brand new application that no one has ever seen before, a telephone system that has nothing to do with computers, or a very old server running an OS where the vendor went out of business in the last century, you’re a systems administrator, you know all about it. And, for one of a various hundred or so possible reasons, you are afraid to let that image falter.

In our martial arts training, we are constantly told to know our limits, to acknowledge our limits, to stretch our limits, and when we train with someone, to tell them our limits. Knowing, acknowledging, stretching, and expressing our limits is useful for many reasons: it teaches us humility, it teaches us to seek assistance, it teaches us to overcome our limits, and perhaps most importantly, it prevents us getting hurt. If we don’t recognize our limits, we cannot improve beyond our limits. If we don’t stretch our limits, we may try to do something significantly beyond our ability and hurt ourselves or others. If we don’t express our limits, our partner may assume we know or can do more than we can, and may accidentally hurt us (or us hurt them).

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