I’m probably among the people with the most Cisco knowledge in my team and the only one studying for CCIE.

Yet I was outwitted twice this week by colleagues in troubleshooting, one of which in a pure Cisco design issue. And my CCIE Written test exams (Boson) showed me I was able to answer 40% of the questions correctly. I had expected 50% and up since CCNP would cover about half of it.

So here it is: I may have underestimated this CCIE study. Does that mean I’m giving up? No. But it does mean I’m going to do things differently. For CCIE Written, I dropped lab practice almost entirely, focusing only on theory, hoping to pass the Written fast (my personal deadline was before Cisco Live London this year, so Friday January 25th), then starting lab practice to get the hang of it, fine tuning my skills.

But it appears that’s not how reality works. It’s not even how my own mind works. I can’t study anything I don’t understand, so I’m going to have to do practical research before the Written. It showed clearly in my test results where I scored great on MPLS (which I have worked with), and utterly failed QoS (which I’ve learned, but never practised with).

So here’s the new plan:

  • No deadlines, just weekly progress.
  • Lab redesign/upgrade.
  • A few hours of dedicated lab time per week instead of erratic patches of free time where I randomly plug in some cables.
  • Research, research, research.

And as far as colleagues outwitting me goes: well done job, guys. I love to have a challenge and you’re surely providing me with one. Experience counts in this job, and I’m going to need years more to get that to a level where I would be satisfied with myself.