Trolling from 2011 and still getting bites when the OP themselves dug this one up couple of days ago. Let it die.
I feel like this is a snow ball effect in IT, where the rolling doesn't get good until you are at a critical mass.
Let me explain...
After some many years of hard work, projects, studying, the works - countless certifications and seminars alike, at one point I stopped. That was 3 years ago, I just went to work and made it my goal to force myself on my day-to-day to pick up challenges. Not comfortable with it? Getting anxiety thinking about it? THAT's what I need to do.
The last 3 years have been the absolute best of my entire career development. The stages of my past were...
"I know everything"
"I don't know what I don't know"
And now it is...
"I don't know anything and that's ok, lets figure it out".
Being good at figuring it out and leveraging good, previous experience in a way that maximizes your business or technology impact & scope is essential. Don't be a gear-head who configures, implements, deploys and fixes boxes. No. You want to be the architect, the solutions developer which can influence both technology and business decisions within an organization.
Actually, right around the time I stopped hanging out here, ironically, is when things really took off. Now at MSFT and have experienced and done things that books haven't been written about yet. It's all about landing in a place that empowers you to make bold claims, bold assumptions and to succeed - or fail, spectacularly. Either way, its always preferred to... some book and a home lab.
But, you won't be given the opportunity for that unless you have those books, certs and home labs under your belt Chicken and egg to IT happiness.