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We’ve arrived at the end of this series. If you have missed parts of the journey, you can catch up by reading part onepart two, and part three. And now, let us see what final wisdom Amazon’s The Rings of Power has in store for us:

 

At last comes their answer through cold and through frost,

That not all who wonder or wander are lost,

No matter the sorrow, no matter the cost,

That not all that wonder or wander are lost.

Your failures will always give you more than your successes

I wrote earlier about mistakes with regard to the ability to apologize. But I want to take another moment and talk about the mistakes themselves.

They. Are. Priceless.

Sure, nobody likes the feeling of messing up. But the reality is that you, whether Númenorean or network engineer, learn far more from your mistakes than you do from your successes. But here's the real lesson: when you're brave enough to speak about those mistakes, you benefit from the lesson and others can benefit without having to make the mistake in the first place! When you have the courage to show your own scars, you show that making mistakes is normal and acceptable. And you open the door for others to show theirs, knowing they will be safe in doing so.

Just before they make their seasonal migration, the harfoots dramatize all of the challenges and dangers they may face with costumes and dance. Punctuating this celebration is the admonition: "Nobody goes off the trail, and nobody walks alone!"

But after the dancing has died down, they sit to honor the names of "those who fell behind." And that's where the real lesson of this sequence shines: when you're comfortable speaking of your defeats, failures, and mistakes, you make available, visible, and acceptable the context of those mistakes. You're not just relating that such-and-such happened, but why it happened, and how you might avoid it in the future.

Curiosity is (almost) never a bad thing

It's a common element in any heroic story: someone is curious about something, and—despite misgivings or even outright warnings—gives into that curiosity. The results of this vary according to the needs of the story.

In The Rings of Power, you see this in many moments: from Eärien tentatively reaching toward the palantír in Númenor; to Nori and Poppy investigating the crater where they'll ultimately find the stranger from the sky; to Theo finding the shard of Sauron's sword in Waldreg's barn.

But the lesson, both from my experience in IT and from watching the show, is that the act of curiosity isn't what defines you. Because curiosity isn't just a storytelling trope, it's common in everyone. Especially those who find their way into the tech world. No, the thing that reveals your true nature is what you do afterward and how you handle the fallout, consequences, or ramifications of your discovery.

Finding a person at the bottom of a burning crater, Nori immediately seeks to help. As the stranger begins to navigate the new world around him, Nori is honest, about what his presence means and what his options are. She is honest with him about himself, knowing that even if he means well he could unintentionally do harm.

While initially guarding the secret sword, Theo comes to realize it's not just a trinket but evil in nature. Despite internal pressures and external whispers from less-than-trustworthy adults, Theo shows the blade to Arondir in an attempt to set right any damage he's done. Going a step further, he confides to the elvish guard the pull it still has on him.

Helping and minimizing harm represent the two most common responses from the best IT professionals I've had the good fortune to meet. Curious exploration uncovers entirely new vistas and capabilities and opens up the opportunity to help your company or customers solve a problem, gain a benefit, or experience joy. On the other hand, the outcome of curiosity may also crash systems, corrupt data, or block access. And in those moments your honesty, maturity, and (as mentioned before) apology are the way forward out of the darkness.

And what of Eärien and the palantír? For that, it seems, waits in the next season. Teaching us that curiosity isn't always satisfied (or at least not right away).

A tech career is a never-ending story

All stories have themes, and the best ones strike a balance between telling an exciting story and ensuring those themes are still visible in the through-line, without being overbearing. For me (and others who've commented on this long before me), the themes in The Rings of Power are "fault and failure, forgiveness and fortitude." And there's a lot that IT practitioners can find in those themes that mirror their daily lives and even instruct on ways to respond in times of difficulty.

But it's equally important to realize that no story contains every story. Your personal stories contain many themes and even more chapters. Until season two comes out, I'll leave you with this: one of the constant wonders for me in my IT career is just how often and how completely things change. And while there are moments of chaos and uncertainty, at the end of a long day I wouldn't be happy working in any other field. 

The sun is fast falling beneath trees of stone,

The light in the tower no longer my home,

Past eyes of pale fire, black sand for my bed,

I trade all I’ve known for the unknown ahead.