Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants (SOTSOG): My Parents

INFORMATION SECURITY PROFESSION TRAITS: TENACIOUS & FAITHFUL

This post is about my parents. My parents have been married for about 40 years and everyone in our family (parents, sister and I) still talks to one another!

My Dad is a Baptist minister; has been since I was like three years old or something. My mom currently works in the healthcare industry, but growing up she was a full-time Mom and as we got older she had some administrative jobs. People underestimate the demands placed upon ministers and their families. They get a lot of satisfaction from their profession. They give more then they earn- let alone take. Our family did not have excess but we were not poor either; the word optimal comes to mind.

TENACIOUS (Merriam Webster definition / synonyms)
My parents adhere to a way of life that was not always easy to understand growing up. I respect my parents for their resolve and desire to guard me (often against my desires) from situations that could have had undesirable consequences. However, I still managed to get myself in trouble on occasion. I would laugh when being corrected, once in awhile I made remarks that were not polite, I cut a girl’s hair “tail” off in the 6th grade, I liked flirting with girls- normal stuff…right?

Spanking – both in the home and in schools – was still a norm in the small town I spent the majority of my childhood in. Yep, I got spanked once in awhile – and to the best of my knowledge I deserved every one of them. I preferred the hand or a ping pong paddle instead of a wooden spoon or a real paddle. I also learned at some point that attempting to run away from or move in the paddling process could result in misplacement of the object striking me. Deep down inside I know my parents did not enjoy punishing me – they would probably never verbally admit they received some satisfaction from it – but if they ever read this – I bet you they would start to crack a smile…

Even though I do not share *all* of their political, social, or spiritual views – I respect – and even admire – them for their tenaciousness.

So how does this pertain to information security or risk management? From my perspective, it is not always easy to be in this profession. Between technology changes, doubters, binary IT mindsets, shortage of data sets, the nature of our work and a slew of other things – it is easy to become frustrated with our profession and leave. Our profession is not a one, two or three year stroll in the park that should reward folks with extra money because they passed the CISSP exam or know a list of acronyms. We are in a journey within a profession that is still evolving and that is slowly but surely integrating itself within business management. To that end is where I think tenacity comes into play.

FAITHFUL (Merriam Webster definition / synonyms)

When I reflect back on the first 18 years of my life – my parents are usually the first thought that comes to mind when I think about faithfulness.  With my Dad being a minister, I grew up seeing first hand how he and my mother served the church(s) he ministered to. The word ‘served’ is probably not an adequate word to describe his and her commitment to a group of people of which they would drop pretty much anything they were doing to be there in someone’s time of need – regardless of the circumstances.

So how does this pertain to information security or risk management? Well, there is a lot of randomness associated with the nature of our profession. We have very little control over externally initiated security incidents or even incidents that occur internally – no matter how awesome or weak our risk management programs are. Thus, we have to be there to deal with incidents and issues; 24×7. Faithfulness is applicable in many aspects of our lives; our personal relationships, our professional relationships, our employer, our profession and the list goes on. There are lots of times where we as information security professionals are not popular with the teams we are helping or non-information security people leaders in general. This is where faith comes into play. If you first stick to the principles of our profession and not get wrapped up in the emotions of others objections to what we are here to do – you will probably prevail.

The next SOTSOG post will be about the United States Marine Corps – feel free to drop down and give them 20, plus one for those currently getting shot at – just because!

Note: I started this post on 5/30/2010. A lot of things have happened since then that make me appreciate my parents even more. My Dad was having some chest pains and after a heart catheterization found out he had a 95% blocked artery in his heart; he had a stent put in the same day. Two days later he and my Mom made an emergency flight to Hilton Head to drive two of our relatives back to Ohio; one of which who had been admitted to the emergency room because of a blocked bowel. Yet another example of unselfish faithfulness.

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