Blog 2018 07 11 How to grow antifragile as a developer

How to grow antifragile as a developer

In one recent newsletter of the Daily Stoic, Ryan Holiday writes about being unbreakable and what that means for a Stoic person.

Let’s be clear about what Stoicism is. In simple terms, it is a philosophy designed to make you stronger, so that you don’t break easily. (…) Stoicism is there to help you recover when the world breaks you and, in the recovering, to make you stronger at a much, much deeper level as a result. (…) The Stoic heals themselves by focusing on what they can control: Their response. The repairing. The learning of the lessons. Preparing for the future. (…) It is in this approach that true strength lays. Because those that cannot break, cannot learn and cannot be made stronger for what happened. Those that will not break are the ones who the world kills.

Most of us want to be good at what we do. I want to be an exceptional developer and an influential author. Does it mean that I will make no mistakes? No, I don’t think so. I make mistakes. A lot. Maybe by time, I’ll err less, but it’s more probable that I’ll just make different kinds of mistakes - with bigger and bigger impacts.

I remember that when I was managing a few thousand subscribers e-mail list, once I sent an e-mail to the whole list instead of just one person, a person who wanted to unsubscribe. I realized immediately that I sent my reply to everyone, but it was too late. The mail had already been sent, there was no undo button. I flushed and got stone white right one after the other.

I called my boss.

He listened to me and in his own style - that would not be appropriate here or anywhere to be frank - he told me that everyone who works makes mistakes from time to time. Calm down. There is no problem. And then he told me how to handle the situation.

That’s it! We all do mistakes, no problem. Usually those mistakes are not fatal, nothing unfixable. We shall keep that in mind.

We also have to remember that we must take responsibility for what we do. We shall not point at someone else, at the government, at that elected guy, at our boss, or at that guy in the other office. No. We have to recognize our failures, when they are ours and accept them. Don’t get mad, don’t whine about them. Just accept the mistakes. That’s the first step.

The second step is that we should think about what made us err. Did we find difficult to follow a procedure? Was it ambiguous maybe? Or maybe there were no guidelines to follow at all? It can also be that we didn’t check deep enough and we accepted the first solution we found without any real validation.

Credit goes to:

The third step is that we try to fix that shortcoming. If it is about a process, write it or amend it! If it is a misusage of the API, document it, make a pull request in order to fix it. Do whatever it takes - of course, the efforts should be reasonable compared to the gains.

That’s it! You made something in order to avoid doing the same error again! You made yourself and possibly others a bit less breakable. That’s how you become antifragile!

Do you want to grow antifragile?

Follow these three simple steps:

  1. Accept the mistakes you make
  2. Identify the root causes
  3. Prevent them from happening again
This post is licensed under CC BY 4.0 by the author.