I came across this graphic by way of Pick the Brain who found it at Creating Passionate Users. This image perfectly describes what I believe all network and system administrators should be striving for.

All too often, when their ideas are confronted, I hear established network and system administrators say, "That's how I know to do it", or "This is good enough". This mindset makes me cringe. When an administrator reaches the point where improving his skill set is not desirable or settling on suboptimal results becomes acceptable, it's time to move on. Most likely, this mindset is based on fear or just plain old laziness.

Creating Passionate Users: How To Be An ExpertFear is something that everyone in every profession must deal with in some capacity at some time. Often, administrators fear becoming "replaceable" or having their deficiencies exposed. From my own experience, I've gone through periods where I felt that others (especially those who stood to gain) were taking advantage of my expertise without passing along the appropriate credit. This led me down the path of hoarding knowledge (which ultimately led to the creation of Slaptijack). Ultimately, fear is a natural human emotion, and can be overcome. Often it's the team dynamic, when some are fearful and others are not, that can break an administrator out of the fear-rut.

Laziness, on the other hand, is all-together different. The concept of doing just enough to get by is guaranteed to have sub-par results. I don't advocate late nights or weekends, but there is nothing wrong with putting full effort into a project before calling it done. For example, if you've installed Apache 1,000 times, the easiest thing in the world is to install it one more time. But, if the web site is going to serve static HTML, and all benchmarks indicate that lighttpd far outperforms Apache in this context, then only laziness says, "Apache is good enough."

So, in the end, what do you want to be? An amateur or an expert?