Reflect on your mistakes

Dear new developer,

This post called “Leveling Up Skill #10: Reflecting on Mistakes “, part of a series on leveling up as a programmer, provides a good solid process for reflecting on, learning from, and moving past mistakes.

I liked two parts of this in particular. The calling out of the “it’s ok to make mistakes” trope:

Before we do, though, let’s address one more thing: senior developers from privileged groups talk about this a lot already. “It’s OK to make mistakes!” “You should make mistakes!”

I cannot recommend making mistakes like that.

Maybe some mistakes have more benefits than drawbacks for the senior guy who is already reputed to be technically competent.

For a junior person, or for an engineer from an underrepresented group whose authority and ability are constantly questioned and downplayed throughout their career, screwups are costlier because they feed other peoples’ confirmation bias. “Oh, yeah, she’s hit or miss. Really botched that database refresh last quarter.”

This is part of the reason I recommend overindexing when you start out. But she raises some really good points about the difficulties folks who are not senior white guys have with making mistakes.

The other part of this post that is really solid is the four steps to process the mistake and incorporate it. I won’t name the steps, go read the article! But suffice it to say that mistakes are part of life, just try to make new ones.

Sincerely,

Dan

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