Share Your Mistakes

I wrote the other day about a culture of allowing mistakes. We know mistakes are going to happen, so we ought to accept them. Even stupid ones. I make them at times, my wife does, my kid does, so I have been working to not get upset and emotional about them. Instead, hold someone accountable, let them fix things, and try to do better in the future. It’s what I’d want, and what I am trying to do with my family, friends, kids I coach, and others.

Many of us share knowledge and information. One of the reasons I love events like SQL Saturday is that others share their knowledge. I especially appreciate is when someone shares a solution and how or why they build it. Hearing their stories, the reasons for their decisions, and what works well is great. I learn in a similar way from blogs, which is why we syndicate blogs at SQL Server Central and include them in the newsletter.

By the way, if you have a blog and want to syndicate it (full feeds, please), contact the webmaster or submit an article.

We want to share knowledge, but we should also remember to share mistakes. We make wrong turns, and sometimes others might not take our advice because we recommend them. Instead, they might go down the same wrong path as we did previously. They might make the same mistake we did. Sharing and showing how a decision didn’t work well can be a powerful and valuable story. We all respond well when we empathize, and most of us can empathize with a mistake.

Almost every interview I’ve been in has asked me about a mistake, misstep, or other error that I’ve corrected or learned from. Usually, there is some variation on “tell me about a difficult situation” that you need a story about. In a technical interview, this might be based on a programming or database administration problem. In other interviews, this might require you to think about interactions with others.

In any case, I encourage you to keep stories handy for interviews or reviews. I’d certainly also suggest that you blog about them. Writing is a valuable communication skill we all need, especially in these days of mostly remote interactions. Practice writing, get better at presenting your thoughts, and learn to share stories that will help others in their journey to be a better professional.

Steve Jones

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