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How Did We Get Here?

A topic making the rounds of the SQL Server blogosphere, started by SQL Server MVP Paul Randal at, is a reflection on three main events or decisions that brought you to where you are now. Replies to date have interpreted that to basically mean where you are professionally, which might be the natural assumption for what people reading SQL Server blogs want to know.  Are you really interested in how the bloggers got to where they are spiritually, politically, or domestically?

Trying to determine specific events that caused a shift in a professional path (or any path) can be as difficult as trying to untangle a ball of yarn. For me, when I think of one pivotal event, I then start thinking of all the events and decisions that brought me to that point. And if I focus on one of those earlier decision points, there are other events and decisions that led to that. For example, I might think that my decision of where to attend college was one of those major events, but the reason I made the choice I did had a lot to do with where I was living and certain experiences I had as a child, which was all because of decisions my parents had made, such as where to live and where to send me to school.

Even if we discuss only events that brought us to the current point in our professional lives, it isn’t always professional decisions and events that brought us here. For example, a decision to get married and merge our life with someone else’s will have an impact on what kind of job opportunities you’re able to pursue, or might inspire us to think of possibilities you never imagined. Adding a child to your life is another major event that can have a tremendous impact on the decisions you make and the paths you take.

It took a bit of work for me to come up with three specific events that made the biggest changes in my life’s direction.  One of those decisions was a spur-of-the-moment decision, another was a very heart-wrenching and difficult personal decision, and the third was a professional decision that many people thought I was crazy for making.

  1. The spur-of-the-moment decision was made right before my senior year of college. I had finished almost all the requirements for my degree in Linguistics, so I had the opportunity to take some classes for fun or enrichment. As a senior, I would get priority, so I knew I could take anything I chose. A friend casually mentioned that I might want to think about taking a computer class, because way back then, computers seemed to be the “up and coming” thing. There were two introductory programming classes that term, one in FORTRAN and one in BASIC. The FORTRAN class was in a far distant corner of campus, so I chose to take the BASIC class. The instructor in that class was only a graduate student, but he was so was compelling and made the entire course so exciting that when the first class term was over, I went and applied to graduate school for Computer Science. I realize now I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but I have no regrets about that decision.

  2. The second decision was personally heart wrenching and took a long time to finalize. I had married quite young, right at the end of my senior year of college, and we had a child about a year later. The realization that the person I was married to wasn’t someone I could spend my life with, followed by the decision to become a single mother, wasn’t easy. However, it allowed me to realize that I was in control of my life and could make choices that were best for me. Shortly thereafter, I was able to start down a spiritual path that led me to meeting a man that I could spend my life with. Once Dan was in my life, I made the decision to leave the university where I had been teaching (it was a wonderful environment for a single mom), and take a corporate job that would allow real professional growth.

  3. The third event occurred when I was at a real professional crossroads; when I needed to decide whether to leave corporate life and strike out on my own. I wanted to teach, write, and do just enough consulting to keep my hands on real database systems.  It would take far too many words to describe all the factors I had to weigh into my decision, but suffice it to say, I didn’t meet all the requirements that are usually recommended before starting your own business. We had a brand-new baby and two toddlers, no savings, and two mortgages on our house, but I did it anyway.  And here I am now.

Obviously, I’ve omitted many details. Many more events occurred and decisions were made that led me to where I am now, and I’m sure all of your paths were equally windy and unpredictable. But exactly how you got where you are now isn’t what is important. The only thing that’s important is where you go from here.

Editor’s Note: We would love to hear what decisions and events led you to where you currently are professionally. Tell us your stories in the Reader Comments section at the bottom of the article page.

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