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My Journal

CISO Lessons Learned – There Are No Failures, Only Opportunities To Learn

Failures make you learn, strive for more and drive to be better.

It’s easy to look at LinkedIn profiles and see all the successes and wonder if you on par with your peers. Everyone has failed, the ones who won’t admit their failures are the unfortunate ones who will fail in the long term without the benefit of learning.

I have learned the most from my most significant failures, and I’m a better leader, person, and security practitioner from those failures. I joined a team that was not a good culture fit, and that turned out to be a significant, career-changing failure. I met all my goals and was successful on the outside, but I was miserable and dreaded going into work. I love working in my chosen field, but when I went to this team, I was unhappy, even though I was doing a job I loved. The level of misery was so high that I contemplated leaving the information security field because it affected me so much. I decided to leave and went to a different company that was smaller, that paid less, and I was totally and 100% happy again. I learned an incredibly valuable lesson, that is that the company culture has to be a match with who you are. The company that I was miserable at was a fantastic company that was very successful, but the culture wasn’t a match for who I was at that point in my life. That doesn’t make the company or me bad; we didn’t match at a factor that was important to me. From that point on, I spent a lot of time understanding company culture before signing on and have been happy since.

I still vividly recall one error/failure I had 20 years ago that still influences me today. I mistyped a command in a Unix command line that deleted a critical log which has always caused me to be very careful when typing a command as the ROOT user. I could spend all day writing about others, but each one of them have impacted me positively in some way throughout my career.

I have learned from all my mistakes, and I have not repeated them, so I count my failures as life lessons that have helped me. If you can walk away from failure with your health, family, and financial stability intact, then you should count yourself lucky.

I used to compare myself to my peers on LinkedIn, but something I finally realized is that we don’t put our failures on our LinkedIn profiles. So if you feel like you only seem to have faults and failures, know that others are doing it as well, and hopefully learning from them

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