Plate spinning 101 for Admins


The life of a technical administrator of any type can really be a circus act. I usually equate it to the plate spinner. You know the guy. He has all these plates he puts on a sticks and has to keep each plate spinning as he’s putting more plates on other sticks to spin. The coolest part of the act isn’t spinning a plate on a stick. The coolest part is putting more and more plates on sticks and constantly going back to each one every couple seconds in order to keep it spinning.

All other departments need to be honest with themselves. The computer guy is expected to know everything possible. I don’t think it’s just me but at most of the companies I’ve worked at I can do almost everyone’s job in the building. I once worked at a production company where I literally did every person’s job in the company at least once. We have to understand a lot about accounting to help the accountants achieve their goals, HR, specialty areas like video/audio production, sales, engineering and so much more. You name your companies departments and you touch them all. Add all these plates to your performance. As crazy as it gets I’ve got to say I do love it but it comes with it’s setbacks. Today I had one of those setbacks.

It is said that Albert Einstein didn’t even know his own phone number by heart. The reason for this was the fact that it was knowledge that was so easily accessible. He said why would he put that kind of information in his head when he could just grab the white pages or a phone book in his house. This is how you will have to treat some things. That’s why a trusty internet connection and Google should be your best friends. Some answers are just seconds away. I never remember the color configuration for crimping a crossover cable because I can just look it up and I don’t do it often.

The backfire that I faced today was that I realized that I turned my back for a second and some plates fell. In particular I was put on the spot with a test on MySQL and at another time in the same day questions about Cisco. Now I actually went and took some classes on these two things years ago and have used them ever since.

All of a sudden, my whole sense of self-worth went right out the window. Years of learning. All the systems I’d administered or installed in the past out the window. All my value reduced to minutes before I’m considered a rookie.

Here’s the lesson. Of course you will have to let some of your plates just spin. It’s always easy being the one or two trick pony but admins are more than that. Maybe one or two plates will have to fall. You can always get new ones (i.e. pick up the skills again). The method to your madness has to be spinning the plates that are wobbling in the back. Those are the skills that you don’t use on a daily basis but read blogs and get podcasts that may mention things you may want to keep up to date on.

My dad’s solution is a little different and I may really need to adopt it. He said,”At a certain level don’t let anybody ever test you. There’s nothing to be gained only image to be lost.”

3 Responses to “Plate spinning 101 for Admins”

  1. john park says:

    If you would like to use my picture, please credit on the photo or in the text body of your blog post.
    “photo courtesy of

  2. phillip says:

    Sorry John. Please, feel free to visit his site.

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