Reflections: The Pencil

Jason Hall

Published On: December 4, 2020

Categories: Career, Professional Development 0

I've long enjoyed sharing reflections with the rest of the SentryOne team. These generally materialize as short stories that cause me to "reflect" on something relevant. I like to write them down, not only to share but also in hopes that the concept will stick with me for a while, as it did in this case.

The Pencil

Back in the fall of 2018, the SentryOne team was preparing to move from our Huntersville, NC, office into our brand-new Charlotte headquarters. My wife, being the amazing person she is, knew I wouldn’t be in town during our office move, so she came to work with me one day and took all my stuff home so that I could sort through it.

There was one item left behind in my office, which I thought was odd. It was a pencil that had never been sharpened, but the eraser was worn all the way down. I’m sure that at some point over the years, I had a need for an eraser, but not a pencil. I don’t remember, but it was a strange thing to find.

This object caused me to stop and reflect for a moment. What good is this thing to me now, I thought? I could sharpen it and write something, but I wouldn't be able to erase what I wrote. I might as well use a pen. Without the eraser, the pencil is incomplete. However, that pencil was still good for reminding me of something important.

Each day, we’re all working as part of something bigger. We often become fixated on our individual or group contributions, but there is usually a larger reason that all of the parts/groups are doing whatever it is they are doing. If one part is missing or broken, the whole becomes dysfunctional.

Interdepartmental rivalries are a normal thing in the technology sector. Devs versus DBAs, DBAs versus systems, and systems versus users are common scenarios. Consider the bigger picture for a moment. What good is a UI with no user? What good is hardware with no operating system? What good is data with nothing or no one to act on it?

As I reflect on this, I imagine a different way. Instead of thinking about where the blame for something lies, think about that larger purpose and how to move toward that goal. How can different people and groups help each other reach effective and productive conclusions together? By placing our focus on the larger objective, we often find that many things fall in line without additional effort or consideration.

Together, all parties involved are a powerful force driving toward a common goal. Apart, they're more like an unsharpened pencil with no eraser.

Until next time,


Jason has worked in technology for over 20 years. He joined SentryOne in 2006 having held positions in network administration, database administration, and software engineering. During his tenure at SentryOne, Jason has served as senior software developer and founded both Client Services and Product Management. His diverse background with relevant technologies made him the perfect choice to build out both of these functions. As SentryOne experienced explosive growth, Jason returned to lead SentryOne Client Services, where he ensures that SentryOne customers receive the best possible end to end experience in the ever-changing world of database performance and productivity.