Looking back recently at both my professional career, as well as the daily life of some loved ones, I often ask myself what kept me in a bad situation soo long before I realized it was not for me?

I was once the primary deployment engineer for a very large-scale financial organization. The Dev Org had recently gone “Agile” which meant that we in Ops had two weeks to turn around over 200+ VMs and assure that they were all prepped for the upcoming release. This meant prepping over 150 virtual machines every two weeks for the next “Production Push” that often contained more bugs than the current implementation.

Yet, for more than 6 months, what could I do but just keep trudging down the path of deployment and making things happen? That is when I was approached by my next manager via a #PowerShell User group that my wife and I used to manage. He mentioned that a multi-national restaurant company really needed a “Cloud Admin”. I had very little cloud experience, but thankfully that is exactly what this company needed. They wanted someone that they could groom into a highly skilled Cloud Admin. I had 15+ years of Windows Server and IIS experience and was very skilled in PowerShell, so jumping into the cloud feet first was not a huge stretch for me.

Did I mention that the six months of deployments meant that I was up and online every other Tuesday at 4 am for Production Deployments? I am not sure about you but I am not SUPER effective at 4 am, even though I am currently writing this at 4:33 AM 🙂 I was offered the Cloud Admin job, took it and have not looked back.

I started at the new company after nearly a four year tour at the old place, and I was surprised at how quickly I started to enjoy work again. I mean the old place was ok, but it was just not fun anymore. I felt like Bill Murray in Ground Hog Day waking up week after week to do the same deployment script only to have to sit on the phone for hours on end after the 4 am deployment call and be ready to bounce IIS app pools so that we could run hotfixes.

“This didn’t happen in testing” or “It works fine in dev” was just part of the lexicon of these early morning calls. Thankfully, we had a very no-nonsense leadership structure that would just respond with, “Whelp it’s not working in Prod, so it’s your responsibility ‘Dev’ to get it working.” It was one of the first places that I experienced the DevOps culture. Don’t get me wrong… we were doing DevOps very backwards, but we did work very closely to just GSD -> Get Stuff Done.

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Ok, back to the new company! Once I started working in the cloud, I started to realize how toxic I had let my old “normal” really effect my mental state. My new normal was like coming out of a fog, and I was finally excited to go to work every day again.

As I said at the start of this post, in both my professional and personal life I have let a very toxic normal creep into my life a few times. You may ask what a “toxic normal” looks like. Well day by day, or year over year, things happen that just slowly make your everyday terrible. When, through either your own choice or a choice of the company, you decide to change your toxic normal, it can be very enlightening. A new normal – what does this mean, you ask.

It’s the process of taking a step back and then diving into what your new day to day looks like. It’s the process of your body deciding to wake up EVERY TUESDAY FOR THE NEXT 6 MONTHS AT 4 AM when you don’t have to be to work till 9 AM. It’s the process of coming to terms with the fact that your phone is not going to ring at 3 AM the day after you were up at 4 AM and blasted a 14 hour day while “supporting a release”. Not sure about you, but I am not super effective at 4 am when I plan to get up that early – let alone when I am woken up since I am “on call”.

Don’t get me wrong we all have to pay our tech dues by taking a few rounds of on-call, but there just comes a time when those dues are paid and you move on to a full night’s sleep. It’s amazing to look back and realize how negative my emotions were when I was under this oppressive normal that I had allowed into my life. It was nothing the company did to me per-se. It was just what I allowed to be my normal. I could have easily raised my hand and said I needed a break, but I didn’t. I just trudged along for months and months and just GSD.

If you wake up everyday and are not excited about what you do at work, then consider that you may be in a toxic normal. Take a step back and really consider what is causing you to dread going into the office. Is it that one co-worker, that one project, or that silly repeatable task that you have to do every single day? What can you change to define your new normal? Is it setting healthy boundaries for yourself? Is it moving on to another position inside the company or outside the company? I just implore you that this life is too short and too precious to be miserable every day.

If you want to work with some thought leaders in Azure, PowerShell or DevOps and really move the needle in your everyday normal.  Reach out to us here at Nebbia and we can have a discussion about what your everyday looks like right now and how much better it can be when you allow the People, Processes and Products of DevOps to work for you instead of against you.

–ScriptWarrior out

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