Honored and Humbled – Becoming a Tableau Zen Master

First, I need to say I have the best co-workers.  They are colleagues and friends.  This was on my desk when I returned to work after conference:



If you’re looking for a place to grow, learn, teach, and serve others — you can’t do better than Teknion Data Solutions.  Thank you to everyone there for all the support and opportunities!

What is a Zen Master?  Check out Tableau’s description


When you listen to the response of newly inducted Zen Masters two words stand out: “honored” and “humbled.”

“Honored” makes sense when you first hear it.  It is indeed a high honor to be named Zen Master by Tableau.

But what about “humbled”?  Why is that the other term that Zen Masters are likely to use to describe themselves?  I’ll speak for myself.  Here are some reasons I feel humbled:

  • I’ve been named among many who I consider to be my mentors.
  • I work with and meet many people who teach me new things every day.
  • I stand on the shoulders of giants.  What I know is made up of what I’ve learned from others.
  • There’s a lot I still don’t know.  Zen Master doesn’t mean “mastery” in the sense that I know everything.  Far from it.  I’m still learning how much I don’t know.
  • There’s a lot I will never know.  And that’s okay.  I once naively thought that one really could know all there was to know about Tableau.  But even if you could master every last menu option consider all the areas Tableau touches: databases, data structure, analysis, statistics, R, GIS, writing code, visualization, design, server administration, and more!  Who can master it all?  No one.  Should we despair? No!  First, Tableau is so incredibly intuitive that anyone can start using it to create beautiful and useful things without a steep learning curve.  Second, I am incredibly grateful for a vibrant and dynamic community that freely shares their specific knowledge and helps each other.

Humility is a lesson I’ve learned and I’m still learning it.  A  couple of years ago, while attending my first Tableau conference, I was introduced to one of the original Zen Masters.  I was introduced as a “jedi” and I thought I was.  I had been using Tableau just long enough that I knew a fair amount but didn’t yet realize how much I didn’t know.  Sensing my know-it-all attitude, this individual patiently showed me a few things I had never considered and then kindly invited me to get in touch if I wanted to understand it more.

It ignited a passion in me to learn more, deepen my understanding, and help others with the knowledge I gained.  Along the way, I’ve continually been humbled as others have patiently and kindly corrected my “correct answers” on the online forums,  challenged my assumptions, or confirmed my understanding.  I am incredibly grateful.

Honored? Yes.  Humbled? Definitely.


4 Responses so far.

  1. Matt Lutton says:

    Great post — you’ve been a mentor to me, as well, Joshua! You have helped me in so many ways, and I cannot thank you enough. It sounds like you work for a wonderful company as well!

  2. Paul Banoub says:

    Great stuff and well deserved. Was ace to meet you in Seattle this year. Keep up the great work.


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