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How about leaving your comfort zone and write a book?

Sep 25, 2017 - 7 minute read

Paweł Jarosz
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I’ve been a system administrator / engineer for around 10 years. During that time, I’ve gained experience mostly in gas and banking industry, working with many various systems. Now, I am at Objectivity, and I’ve already been here for around 1.5 year.

The last few months were really nutty, because – as some of you might already know – I and one of my colleagues have been writing a book about ConfigMgr 1706 for Packt Publishing, the book is about to be published on 12th of September. Before I tell you about the book, what is in it and whom it targets, I would really like to share a story that is behind it, how a guy with sometimes extremely low self-esteem, was able to do such a thing. One of my dear colleagues calls such things “micro decisions”, I believe there is also something like being at the right time in the right place. Those micro decisions mentioned above sometimes might require guts, as the hardest fight is to fight your inner fears. But as someone once said: “A ship in harbour is safe, but that is not what ships are built for”. So here is a story about jumping into the deep end…

It was at the time I was working in gas industry, when I was asked to deploy ConfigMgr 2012 environment and migrate from old ConfigMgr 2007. Quite a bit project, right? I asked “Why me, and not the company that was supposed to do the deployment?” The answer was financial factors, the other company wanted too much money, so the management decided to involve on-site administrators. I was really into ConfigMgr so – not without serious doubts – I said “Sure, why not.” I had doubts especially because I was doing another similar internal upgrade deployment of Lync infrastructure. In the meantime, I decided to create a small personal blog and publish solutions for interesting issues I was encountering during those deployments and IT in general – nothing big, just a few posts a month.

Around that time, I had some training on Windows Server platform, some of them were led by Microsoft Certified Trainer Jacek Doktór. Later – thanks to that ConfigMgr deployment I was doing – it happened that I landed on ConfigMgr training given by him as well, we got to know each other a little better there. I remember I had many questions – some of them were really fundamental and I was really shy to ask them. But, if I hadn’t asked, I wouldn’t have known that for Jacek it was a normal thing, the cold blood professional didn’t see any problem in explaining those easy things that would make me understand the bigger picture. This is how you recognize a true professional.

Sure, I met many various obstacles in my first ConfigMgr environment deployment, needed to learn a lot and I was spending countless hours and nights to get the environment up and working, but finally… I DID IT. And the joy and satisfaction were unspeakable. After a while I decided to change the environment and try my luck in the bank industry. And again – it wasn’t easy – my dear wife Marta was giving me a lot of support and was encouraging me. I joined one of the world’s biggest banks as an Exchange Administrator. Exchange was not my strongest point at that time, but that was only one of my concerns. I remember the first day I came home after a morning team conference call with my Irish, Indian, Chinese and English colleagues, I told to my wife: “Honey, I’m doomed…I barely understood a word.”

After a few months at the bank, when I met a new person in the corridor, many people thought I wasn’t a Pole, but an Englishman, and for sure they thought I had spent several years in an English speaking country. Well, I haven’t, I just left my comfort zone and decided to speak English with people as much as I could. After a while, the work at the bank started to absorb a lot of my private time, and because me and my wife were expecting a baby, I decided that I need to spend more time at home, and I started looking for a different job. Then I saw job advertisement from Objectivity about an Exchange Administrator, I read it and – of course – started to seriously doubt in myself. I didn’t send my CV. But somehow that job ad was coming to me each time I was reviewing the Internet, so I decided to give it a try. I was invited and the interview appeared to be the coolest one I had ever had. Also people there were not interested in my ability to remember things like usual, but they were interested in my ability to solve problems and in the approaches I choose. After eventful and turbulent 6 months – I started my first day at Objectivity.

Days were passing by, and one day, I received a LinkedIn message from someone named Heramb, I went through the message really rapidly between my daily tasks and it seemed to me that someone who is a technical writer was offering his services. But in the afternoon, when I came back from work, I opened the message once again – I was wrong, this person was asking me to write a book about ConfigMgr because he saw some – in his opinion – great ConfigMgr posts on my blog.

Well… I was speechless.

I called Heramb, he told me that I will have around 3 months to write the book.

I was speechless again.

Indeed, I was working with ConfigMgr a lot, but it was a few years ago. I wouldn’t be able to do it on my own in such a short period of time! Giving me a three-month period to write a book was just an insane idea! I was sure I wouldn’t make it, I was really close to declining and going back to my comfort zone…

Then I remembered this great guy Jacek met a few years ago. We were mates on LinkedIn and I also had his phone number. Well, still it was a bit insane to look at my phone and the message I was about to send to Jacek – a Microsoft Trainer and former Microsoft Most Valuable Professional. I said to myself “Ehh… what the hell, I have nothing to lose, so why not?!” Then I clicked send.

The content of the message was “Jacek, how about writing a book together?” It was May 17th, almost 4 months ago, and we gave the last chapter for review yesterday at 1:00 am, waiting now for the last comments from the Packt Publishing side. The last 4 months were not easy, Jacek was our locomotive with his great ConfigMgr experience, he was a true railway engine in this project! As you might know, the best things in your life don’t come easy. There were countless nights, when I woke up finding myself sleeping on my laptop in the middle of the night. Because of that I got the De Quervain syndrome, so it was not an easy task to write when your hand was burning like hell.

So, as the outcome of our work, there is a book about ConfigMgr 1706. This book might differ from other publications related to System Center Configuration Manager. It is not a publication strictly for administrators and operators as we do not go far deep into the details of configuration and administration of individual system components.

In our publication, we put emphasis on understanding in what circumstances ConfigMgr can be used, what kind of functions it may play in the environment and what goals can be achieved. ConfigMgr is not only a system used to deploy operating systems, updates and other software, it is a system of much wider scope us usage – and this is what we intended to show.

To get more details, please visit the publisher’s site:

The request to write a post about this book came out of the blue from our Group Managing Director – Peter Brooks, and I don’t need to tell you what a nice surprise it was to me. After thinking a while, I thought that it might be a good opportunity to share my story.

The thing I would like you to learn from my experience is that sometimes you need to force yourself and leave your comfort zone, I would even say to do an extra mile in subjects/fields that you are especially terrified with. It is good when you have someone who encourages you – people that surround you are really important. Like Winston S. Churchill once said: “Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities because it has been said, it is the quality which guarantees all others.” Fear will always be with us, but it is good, as fear is the warrior’s ally. The point is – to use it correctly, as sometimes the thing that you might consider as lower self-esteem issue, might lead you in the directions you won’t even imagine.

Courage is all you need, so go and get it!

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Paweł Jarosz
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