There Is A Difference Between Theory And Practice. Always.

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Whenever I think I know enough theory (and simulated practice) to have no trouble with real practice, I always get a surprise. It reminds me of Yogi Berra's quote, "In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is."

Yesterday provided me a perfect example. For the past 5 weeks I have been trying to configure a Cisco 2911 router. I thought my CCNA certification and experience as a CCNA instructor would do. I thought there was nothing so complicated about setting up three networks and having one connect straight to the Swift internet modem.

Well, I battled the thing for weeks. I asked google for help in all the various forms I could frame my problem. I had no trouble setting up the network as planned. The problem was that the two networks not connected to the Swift internet modem weren't able to access the internet. I battled the static routing table. I swapped interface ports. I took many 15 minutes nap. I even prayed about it. And worse of all, google was clueless. I was almost getting sure that the problem was the router's and not my config's. Then yesterday I installed Cisco Configuration Professional, it enables one to configure a Cisco device without using the commandline (I had been exclusively using). I began looking through all the configuration items and then stumbled on just what I needed -- a configuration to share internet on one port with other directly connected networks. Bingo! Let's see what this would do differently. I clicked on it and found out that it was doing a NAT and ACL configuration. And it fixed my 5 week long problem. I felt a huge relief knowing that I wasn't even thinking in that direction at all.

And that wasn't the only time I had seen my theory insufficient. There is the fresh memory of the server installation. I couldn't believe I would spend 4 weeks to install an OS on a server. Then there are many other non-technical cases. Whenever I am doing something for the first time, regardless of how well prepared I am, I always get a surprise. A moment of clumsiness. A strange problem theory and preparation couldn't help with. I am constantly shown that in practice there is a difference between theory and practice.

So what use do I put this knowledge to?
Knowing this makes me avoid over strategizing and getting overburdened with too much planning. I know that no matter how prepared I am or how much planning I do, I will still face problems during the execution mode. So I give my planning a deadline and dive in to execution regardless of how much more planning I feel like doing when the deadline passes. It's like swimming, learning to drive, running a business or starting a family; you can't achieve them by getting bogged down with plans and strategies. You just have to dive in head first.


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