I don’t remember much about playing baseball in the fifth grade. I was an outfielder, but I don’t remember if I played left or right field that year. I don’t remember if I hit at the top of the order, or if I hit sixth.
My main memory of that year is one specific incident. I don’t remember the context, but either during or after a game, one of the players was hassling another player.
“Hey!” I heard my dad’s booming voice yell. “He’s your teammate.” Dad didn’t have to add the words, “cut it out,” because the bully understood. Dad’s stern rebuke, plus the glares from the coaches put an end to it.
I took a new job a few weeks ago. It’s been an adjustment in several ways, particularly the hours. I learned a little bit this week about my not-quite predecessor. I’ve never met her, but have worked around her before. Her desk was next to the coffee pot for a while at a previous job. Then one day she was gone. And then, about three months ago, she was back.
“She’ll do anything to make you look bad so she can make herself look good,” one of my new coworkers said. I guess it’s good that I barely knew her then.
I don’t play that game. It’s nothing to me to make one of my coworkers look good. The payoff may not happen immediately, but it happens eventually.
Several years ago, I worked with a guy named Kyle. We respected each other and respected each other’s work. I helped him when I could, and he did the same. Eventually, our careers went our separate ways, but he only moved one office building over. We still passed in the parking lot sometimes, and he always said hello to me.
One day in 2009, Kyle passed me in the parking lot. We talked, and about 2 1/2 weeks later, Kyle got me a job in his new office. I wasn’t the guy management wanted to hire, but Kyle said any time he needed help, I helped him. You could ask anybody. So management asked anybody and everybody, and they all said pretty much the same thing: When they needed help, I helped them.
A year ago, I got promoted. I didn’t ask for the promotion, but we got in a bind. The key guy in our office quit. He’d been our Mr. Security, a CISSP from way back. I think the rest of the team was divided on whether I was capable of doing the job, but everyone knew I would try my hardest. I got the promotion and soon was the highest-paid guy in the office.
Kyle was one of the people who went to bat for me.
In this industry, it’s better to have friends than enemies. And you’ll make enough enemies just in the regular course of doing your job. There’s no need to get any more of them.
I don’t play baseball anymore. My spirit is willing, but my body says no. But one thing I learned playing baseball still holds true today: If my team is winning, then I do well. And when something little comes along, people may not act like they notice you doing those little things that help out the team. Conversely, the people who think they’re above those little things may thing nobody notices them not doing them. I know otherwise. They notice.
And it catches up with you either way, too. I’ve seen it.
David Farquhar is a computer security professional, entrepreneur, and author. He started his career as a part-time computer technician in 1994, worked his way up to system administrator by 1997, and has specialized in vulnerability management since 2013. He invests in real estate on the side and his hobbies include O gauge trains, baseball cards, and retro computers and video games. A University of Missouri graduate, he holds CISSP and Security+ certifications. He lives in St. Louis with his family.