No Heroes

December 01, 2017

Have you ever been put in a situation where, facing choices, you make a call, and it ends up blowing up in your hand? Not only you don’t get the expected result, but the backlash is even worse, ensuing in a ripple effect of negative outcomes.

That does not feel good, does it?

I had a great opportunity and was to complete a demo that I would have to lead a presentation on in front of deciders. At that time, however, I was already deep down into a task and felt like I needed to finish it first before shifting my focus.

Once done with it, I moved onto the assignment and realized that I overlooked some details in the requirements. No big deal, I was still confident I could complete the demo even though the deadline was soon approaching. However, as time was going by, I started realizing that I needed to make some trade-offs to get things ready and send the demo before the deadline. As it turned out, while I was dead set on showcasing a great demo, I forewent submitting it until the day of the presentation.

Hustling extra hours and catching little to no sleep to pull a hero move ended up being a complete disaster. During the presentation, my brain got so cloudy that I couldn’t articulate my design choices (which I was quite satisfied with) nor comprehend the most simple questions from the audience. The whole experience sucked. I realized that, no matter how skilled I could have been, I wouldn’t have been able to pull myself out the whole I had dug myself in.

Worse, the next day, after finally catching some much-needed sleep, I woke up with all the answers from the presentation. What a raging feeling to realize how wrong the answers you gave the day before were.

In a world where the hustle mentally is put on the pedestal as the way to success, restlessness will inevitably catch up to you and lead to spectacular adverse effects.

The things I have learned from my experience might sound cliché to some but will always guarantee the outcome you seek:

  • Set the expectations by validating your understanding of the requirements and confirming any assumptions you are making as early as possible (even before the task is to be started),
  • If requirements changes or if you discover something: take pause and reassess your timeline,
  • If the timeline needs to change, communicate with other parties as early as possible and provide clear context as to why the changes are required,
  • Provide recommendations (cutting features, pushing the deadline) and state the new timeline to reset the expectations.
  • Repeat.

Following this simple feedback loop should help avoid the negative backlash that blowing a deadline will cause, ensuring you to meet expectations every single time.

Happy face!

PS: This article was originally published on my Medium profile

Xavier Lozinguez

Written by Xavier Lozinguez who lives and works in New Jersey (sometimes) building useful things. You should follow him on Twitter