In Pursuit of the CCIE

Just a short post to let you know this blog is not dead. I have not written anything in several months. While I have several posts that are partially complete, I have not been able to finish them…..yet.

For the past several months, I have been busy studying for the CCIE Wireless lab exam. Prior to that, I was sort of working towards the CCIE Route/Switch written and lab exam. I wasn’t fully committed, so my studying was sporadic at best. My heart just wasn’t in forcing myself to learn more about IPv6, multicast, MPLS, and some of the other blueprint items.

Somewhere along the line it changed. Maybe it was having another co-worker who was serious in his pursuit of the CCIE Wireless. Maybe it was that my job working for a reseller had me doing more and more Cisco wireless work. Maybe I just liked the fact that wireless was hard. I’m not really sure. I just know that at some point, a switch flipped inside my head and I just decided to go all in on my studies. Honestly, I should have done this years ago, but the timing just didn’t seem right.

I’ve been studying most nights every week for a few months. I don’t sleep a whole lot these days. A lot of times, I fall asleep in my chair up in my office and don’t wake up until my wife comes up to check on me. On those nights when I do make it to my bed, I think about the lab blueprint until my brain finally shuts down and I drift off to dream. I have dreams about odd things like wireless authentication. My thoughts are always on the lab. Whether I am in a meeting with a client, sitting in church, or just driving down the road, it consumes me.

I’m constantly fighting off the voices in the back of my mind telling me to stop and go back to life as it was before the study urges took over. I have a wife and two kids. I have a job that demands a decent level of performance mentally. I travel a fair amount for work. I work odd hours. I am fairly active in my local church. I also make a decent living, so passing the lab doesn’t mean a massive pay raise for me. There are so many reasons I shouldn’t do this, and they almost overshadow the reasons that I should.

On the positive side, I am convinced there are doors that will not open career-wise, without the CCIE. Will I make more money after passing the lab? Probably. Will I have more recruiters and HR folks pinging me on LinkedIn? Yes. Will I have interesting career choices cross my path? Probably. I’m not planning on doing anything different work-wise after I pass, but as any of you who have CCIE digits knows, you have more options.

Those are all well and good, but if there is one reason I want to pass the lab, it is related to a quote attributed to John F. Kennedy from a speech he gave in 1962 regarding the USA’s attempts to land on the moon:

“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”

That’s it in a nutshell. I need to know if I can push myself to finish something that on the surface, seems impossible. When I was 15 years old, I ran a mile(1600 meters) in 4 minutes and 56 seconds on a dirt track in Hawaii. I had been trying to break 5 minutes for a while at that point. I remember that race vividly. I had a great running coach that trained me well. I put in a lot of miles on hills and roads leading up to that point, and I only mentioned the locale(Hawaii) to give you an idea of what kind of “hills” I was referring to. It was the end of our track season and I was in peak shape. Had it been a rubber track, I could have probably run it in 5 or 6 seconds faster. It doesn’t matter though. I broke 5 minutes. For some, that is not a big deal. For a kid who had asthma at a younger age, that was huge. It will always be one of my favorite moments in my life, taking a back seat to only the birth of my children and the marriage to my wife.

I am always telling my kids that they can be anything they want to be as long as they are willing to work hard for it. I can tell them all day long. It’s better if I show them through example. I’ll find out in 18 days when I sit the lab for the first time. I may go back several more times before I pass it, but I am prepared to do that.

Nobody ever talks to me about my sub-5 minute mile I ran. In fact, my father was the only one in my family who witnessed it. When, and it is a “when”, I pass the CCIE Wireless lab, most of the people in my day to day life, outside of work, will not even know what that is. I am perfectly fine with that. I’m not doing this for accolades or pats on the back. I’m doing this for me, and also to secure a potentially greater ability to provide for my family.

When it is over, I will take a break from studying. I’ll stop reading technical books for a few months, and not think about this stuff too much outside of my work hours. I have several hundred books I have put off reading for several years. I also have 60 years of National Geographic magazines that a friend gave me that are sitting in my office closet begging to be read. After a few months and a few dozen books and magazines, I will get back on the study “horse” and push towards the Aruba ACMX.

While I would have loved to create a bunch of blog posts documenting the technical aspects of my studies, I made the decision to devote that time to studying. Anyone who has written even one technical post knows how much time those things take. I am very grateful for people like Rasika who took the time to document all of their studies. If you are studying for the CCIE Wireless as well, you are probably already familiar with his excellent site. Much of that content applies to the version 3 lab blueprint.

Just wanted to put something up here to let you know I have not abandoned this site. I’m still around. I’m just busy studying.

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4 Responses to In Pursuit of the CCIE

  1. Michael Taney says:

    Thanks for the great post Matthew. It really struck home for me, because I have been working in vain on the CCIE Collaboration, and I decided just a few days ago that the studying just didn’t interest me. Know what does interest me and what I am just starting to study now with great enthusiasm? CCIE Routing & Switching.

    So there a lot of us in the same boat, I struggled quite a bit with committing because of family, work, other personal wants, but route/switch has been the constant interest in my career for 15+ years so I feel I owe it to myself to prove I can do it.

    Good Luck – @MikeTaney

    • Mike,

      If your heart isn’t in it, you are wasting your time. Glad you found something you like. Best of luck in your studies. Let’s go get those digits!

      Matthew

  2. Erica says:

    Good luck in your studies! It’s a great post as I was in the same boat with the R/S track, my heart was just not into it. I felt the R/S track was kind of boring, then the DC track kind of re-energized my passion for learning. Never give up on your goals! Good luck and when you pass let the whole world know it too!

    • Thanks Erica. I WILL pass at some point. Right now I am just trying to focus on my first attempt and see how far I can get. If I pass, that will be wonderful. If not, I will focus on my weak areas and go back and do it again. I’ll be sure to let the world know when I pass. 🙂

      Matthew

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