Fabulous Fail Friday - Margin

Published Feb 17, 2023 (1 year ago)
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Photo by Margaret Nyman

Happy Friday! It's time for another issue of Fabulous Fail Fridays! Here's a chance to embrace the suck, celebrate mistakes, realizing that they lead to learning and growth. Maybe it'll even encourage you to find small "experiments" in which to potentially fail, learn, and make your project better. Here's another one to consider.

It's hard to pin this one on to a specific event, but the past few years have had a growing trend in small technical fails: a clearly missed line in a pull request that results in a deployment bug (and more work to resolve), an estimate that is way off, outlining the solution to the wrong project, etc. This also trends into scheduling fails, personal followup fails, and even health fails (I'm about a month behind on my RAGNAR training 8^D). There are plenty dimensions along which this applies: planning, execution, learning, seeing and doing "all the thingz."

The "fabulous fail" in all of this is that I haven't left room for "margin." Faster machines, more advanced tools, and general progress enable me to do more better and faster, but in doing that I put more onto the plate. When the inevitable Chaos Monkey walks in with things, I'm already working on the next thing and now it requires unnatural extensions of time and the universe to set things right. That "one more thing" winds up feeling like 10.

Potentially even more impactful, I've found that often the best ideas, impactful connections with people, and new exciting things often are found in these "margins" of time that are getting squished or removed in the name of progress or "moving fast and breaking things."

A lot of this isn't new, but a recent book I read (aptly named Margin by Richard Swenson) is reminding me to:

  • Eat my lunch away from my desk
  • Block out time in my day to focus and be able to think
  • Honor my mental/physical health and do those runs
  • Life Hack: Do those one on one meetings via a quick walk around the block if you can
  • Prioritize sleep over the all nighter

Not surprisingly, as I embrace putting margin into work and life, the inevitable chaos monkey becomes a much smaller and manageable issue, becaues there is time, energy, and head space in which to tackle it head on.

How about you? When have you been able to embrace small experiments / lots of fails in order to succeed?