This morning, as he was hopping out of the car at drop off, my youngest son realized he had forgotten his backpack at home. It had his work as well as his lunch in it, so I was left with little choice but to run home, get it, and bring it back for him.
We only live a couple of miles from the school, and I usually work from home on Mondays anyway, so it wasn’t really a big disruption to my schedule – but it still ate up an unplanned 20 minutes or so of my time.
I don’t really fault him for this mistake as our mornings are usually filled with chaos (I am in charge of mornings; my wife is in charge of the evenings)…and it’s easy to make a small mistake or be slightly forgetful amongst the daily chaos (in fact it’s a small wonder that we don’t have more of these little mistakes every day).
Still - the event got me to thinking about how costly, and important, little mistakes can sometimes be.
I see it a lot in my code as well - a small mistake in logic, or a small typo, can cost you hours of refactoring or debugging (I have argued more than once that a good programmer is just someone who has wasted years making, and fixing, all the same mistakes as a beginner).
I think little mistakes are likely unavoidable, and it’s unreasonable to strive for perfection out of the gate…instead, I think the trick is to be open, ready, and accepting of the little mistakes…address them quickly, without grief, and then move on with the day.
…at least that’s a big part of how I personally get stuff done.
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Kevin has a day job as CTO of Veritonic and is spending nights & weekends hacking on Share Game Tape. You can also check out some of his open source code on GitHub or connect with him on Twitter @falicon or via email at kevin at falicon.com.
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