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Poor Man’s Immortality

By Mike Rothman

One of our esteemed colleagues to the North, Dave Lewis, summed up a danger in almost everything in his recent CSO post, We need to be uncomfortable. Dave talks about realizing he could check out of a job and no one would notice, and how he knew it was time to find the next challenge. He’s right.

The builders give way to the maintainers. Not that there is anything wrong with that per se. What I have seen happen in a few organizations is that they get used to doing things a very specific way and are not typically seen to think beyond the confines of their box. They have their infrastructure and governance framework to operate within and not a whole lot of incentive to approach things differently.

They had become comfortable.

Complacency kills innovation. It kills forward motion. If you are in a role for too long and you get too good at it, you can check out. That kills your motivation. And that’s fine for some folks. As Dave says, some people are maintainers. At the other end of that scale are builders. If you want any chance to be happy in this life, you had better know where you lie on that continuum.

You put a builder into a maintainer role, and the dental treatment from Marathon Man would be a walk in the park. Likewise, you put a maintainer into a builder role and they quickly get paralyzed. So what to do? Embrace who you are and act accordingly.

I learned that security teams cannot sit on their laurels and enjoy the ride. We as security practitioners as well as at an organizational level need to be uncomfortable.

Let me explain what I mean. If your security practice or even you yourself have become stuck in a rut there needs to be a change. Whether that is moving on to a new job or simply reviewing the way security is being managed in the organization it should be clear that inertia kills.

I’ll differ a little because I don’t think sitting on laurels and enjoying the ride are mutually exclusive. The role of building and improving and optimizing provides tremendous enjoyment for a guy like me. Whereas some folks fall in the opposite camp and sitting on their laurels is the ride. But Dave is right. If you are miscast in your current role you need to get back to who you are and what you do. Or it will get messy. You have to trust me on that one.

So why did I call this post Poor Man’s Immortality? I know you are wondering. One of my mentors taught me that comfort can be viewed as a poor man’s immortality. Comfort intimates the desire for things to say the same to achieve a form of immortality. I’m not interested in that. As I look back, I live for the discomfort. That’s not a choice for everyone, but it is for me. And evidently for Dave as well.

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