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What to do when you fail

We’ve all had those nights; you laid the architecture for weeks, you’ve planned all day, wrote every step (in full technical detail) and when you go to implement something, it just fails.

It is the nature of IT to implement and take care of systems that are at the core of business operations.  With this responsibility comes stress, and even with planning and re-checks, and other pairs of eyes, some times all still fails; you must roll back and regroup.

Luckily, most processes related to computer systems are black and white.  I say luckily because how often do we have the opportunity in life to find absolute ground truth?  Computer systems either work, or they don’t and you must have not configured them properly.

But this is not always good.  It forces you to look hard at yourself when you do fail.  “I didn’t perform the right amount of research.  I didn’t gather the right resources.  I don’t have the right skill set. I didn’t work hard enough. It is my fault.”

Tonight I had this happen.  I’m very happy that my failure didn’t cause destruction, and we recovered in under 30 minutes.  Regardless, things did not go as I had planned them; and I took the great risk of strongly recommending that we go forward with the implementation having faith that it would go with absolute smoothness.  Things simply did not work the way that I expected.

In the aftermath, I began to beat myself up, repeating the lines above, but quickly realized that I needed to realistically analyze what had happened to create the environment of my failure, not just harp on my own possible weaknesses.  Without allowing the all to easy path of blaming others to permeate my thoughts, I set forth to truly analyze the issues I faced that weren’t technical.  “Maybe the window could have been longer.  Maybe I should have slept longer last night.  Maybe I should always make sure my window is approved earlier so that my focus when working is strong.”  After submitting these ideas to myself, I accepted that things are just the way they are.  A few more things could have been done better, and I will practice these things going forward.

But, my emotions were still writhing from my failure.  What do I do to escape from this trap?  Very simply, I began reading.  Not reading news or fiction.  I began reading Farnam Street.  I had a hunger that needed quenching, but instead of drinking a beer and surfing reddit, I decided that I needed to focus on abstract philosophical theories of how to be a better person.  It’s not so much that I wished to distract and depersonalize the experience of failure, as much as I needed to activate the section of my brain that thinks of large, longer term topics.

Having had my entire life changed by The Obstable is the Way and Meditations, I’m into the idea of seeking wisdom, and putting effort into becoming a better, more confident, and more resilient person.

And what is moving forward in time worth without aiming for true growth?

[I haven’t written anything of any substance in a long time, and I’m even not so happy with the way this came out.  But maybe that serves it’s own purpose.]

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