(Photo by Merickson Pangilinan — CC license)

Have you ever been put in a situation where, facing choices, you make a call, and it ends up blowing up in your hand?
Not only you don’t get the expected result, but the backlash is even worse, ensuing in a ripple effect of negative outcomes.

That does not feel good, does it?

I had a great opportunity and was to complete a demo that I would have to lead a presentation on in front of deciders. At that time, however, I was already deep down into a task and felt like I needed to finish it first before shifting my focus.

Once done with it, I moved onto the assignment and realized that I overlooked some details in the requirements. No big deal, I was still confident I could complete the demo even though the deadline was soon approaching.
However, as time was going by, I started realizing that I needed to make some trade-offs to get things ready and send the demo before the deadline. As it turned out, while I was dead set on showcasing a great demo, I forewent submitting it until the day of the presentation.

Hustling extra hours and catching little to no sleep to pull a hero move ended up being a complete disaster.
During the presentation, my brain got so cloudy that I couldn’t articulate my design choices (which I was quite satisfied with) nor comprehend the most simple questions from the audience.
The whole experience sucked. I realized that, no matter how skilled I could have been, I wouldn’t have been able to pull myself out the whole I had dug myself in.

Worse, the next day, after finally catching some much-needed sleep, I woke up with all the answers from the presentation. What a raging feeling to realize how wrong the answers you gave the day before were.

In a world where the hustle mentally is put on the pedestal as the way to success, restlessness will inevitably catch up to you and lead to spectacular adverse effects.

The things I have learned from my experience might sound cliché to some but will always guarantee the outcome you seek:

  • Set the expectations by validating your understanding of the requirements and confirming any assumptions you are making as early as possible (even before the task is to be started),
  • If requirements changes or if you discover something: take pause and reassess your timeline,
  • If the timeline needs to change, communicate with other parties as early as possible and provide clear context as to why the changes are required,
  • Provide recommendations (cutting features, pushing the deadline) and state the new timeline to reset the expectations.
  • Repeat.

Following this simple feedback loop should help avoid the negative backlash that blowing a deadline will cause, ensuring you to meet expectations every single time.

Happy face!

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