When Great Engineers Make Mistakes They…

Ella sheer
Feb 6 · 4 min read

Face a fail and come out better on the other side.

Photo by pawel szvmanski on Unsplash

Making Mistakes is like Diamonds — they are forever

When I was a junior developer I was terrified of Git- I feared a wrong action would break the main branch for all the developers and QA, with all the public shame that comes with it.
I was envious of the senior developers, who seemed to know everything and were writing code effortlessly.
As I started to get more familiar with the R&D, I realized that while a senior developer handles Git and syntax easily, she had more significant responsibilities and bigger challenges. A mistake like choosing the wrong technology would hurt the R&D much more than a junior’s Git accident.

Hopefully, the error itself is not eternal, but I’m sure I will keep making mistakes over and over in my life. After accepting this, I started to observe how awesome people around me handled errors, and here are my observations.

When great Engineers make mistakes…

They are neither ashamed nor dismissing

They do not allow the guilt to throw them into a downward spiral of insecurity and self-blaming. This is a soft spot for the Imposter syndrome to strike.

On the other side of the spectrum, there is a pitfall of having so much experience and confidence that we dismiss the idea we might be wrong. Your armor of confidence should not be that strong that a healthy amount of criticism will bounce back. Allowing ourselves room for improvement is always right in the long term.

Great people face a technical problem in an objective and balanced manner, reacting logically to the situation itself and not the emotional and personal implications.

Photo by Samuel Austin on Unsplash

They are accountable but not always responsible

When the first discovery about the bug happens, They don’t try to blur, imply it’s not their fault or discuss who is to blame. Anything related to the past or the future is not relevant right now- the problem is present and we should focus on fixing it.

Being accountable doesn't mean that you must relentlessly work until the fix. Sometimes we feel obligated to do so, as if saying “the least you can do is clean your own mess”. The professional choice is not to act out of guilt or fear but to consider all the open tasks, the bug included, and prioritize them all. Exhaustion and work-fatigue are genuine issues in the Hi-Tech industry, especially in Israel, where we tend to work long hours as a standard. You are not expected to fix the problem on the expanse of your free time. Also, sometimes it will take an expert to solve the issue, and it takes some greatness to admit that we need this help.

They announce a mistake honestly, without belittling

I made a mistake. I fixed it.
This is what happened: …
This is what I will do so it won't happen again: …

Miri Curiel was giving a talk named “Why it’s not good to be a good girl,” and this template was her answer to the question-

How do I report a mistake without biletting myself or the problem at hand?”

Notice how all the qualities I mentioned before are demonstrated in this simple template. The last part talked about not repeating the same mistakes twice or generally putting in that extra effort, which is my final tip.

Making mistakes is like Diamonds — they are a woman’s best friend.

Well, maybe not my favorite friend, but it‘s a challenge and an opportunity to demonstrate these qualities inside you that you don’t reveal in everyday situations. You can show how you keep calm during stressful events, gain respect by putting in the extra effort or gain trust by maintaining integrity.

Whatever your strong qualities are, this is a chance to shine.

More stories in this theme — When great developers debug they …

Photo by Kira auf der Heide on Unsplash

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Ella sheer

Written by

Engineer. Thinker. Writes 4 minutes stories.

Nerd For Tech

NFT is an Educational Media House. Our mission is to bring the invaluable knowledge and experiences of experts from all over the world to the novice. To know more about us, visit https://www.nerdfortech.org/.