Community Blog On Failure - Friday Blog, Week 56

On Failure - Friday Blog, Week 56

This week I talk about something none of us like to think about: failure. Join me as I talk about ways (not) to fail, and what to do when you fail anyway.

By: Jeremy Pedersen

On Failure

I had intended to put up a blog post about Kubernetes today.

Specifically, I had some ambitious plans to get ownCloud running. This involved a Helm chart, two Pods, a StatefulSet, and a couple of PersistentVolumeClaims.

Not surprisingly, it was more difficult to get everything set up than I anticipated, and here we are: it is well after working hours on a Friday night, and I'm scrambling to get a blog post out on time!

I've been putting up weekly blogs on a regular schedule for quite a long time now, and this type of failure is rare. But it does happen.

Today, I want to take a little time to talk about what strategies I use to manage failure (with the blog, at work, and even in life), and where they can sometimes go wrong.

Let's dive in.

Lesson 1: Have A Buffer

In work as well as in life, having backup plans and buffers is always a good idea.

This is both the most difficult and most effective way to deal with failure.

At work, try to finish work ahead of deadlines, but don't submit your work early: this sets a bad precedent, as people will expect you to finish every assignment ahead of schedule.

When you can, set up a "buffer" for repetitive tasks. This way, if an emergency comes up or you have an issue with the given task, you can submit the work you have already completed.

Better still, leave time between items on your schedule, so you don't throw off your whole day when a task doesn't finish on time.

Where I failed this week: I don't maintain a buffer for the Friday blog. If I always had at least one blog post queued up and ready to publish, I could avoid issues like the one I encountered today!

Lesson 2: Diversify

Have more than one way to accomplish a given task. You can get carried away with this one, but it's a good idea to have multiple ways to:

  • Get to work
  • Get home
  • Make a meal
  • Get access to your money
  • Contact your friends and family
  • Complete your work

...and so on.

This is the strategy I'm using right now to deal with today's Kubernetes issues. Rather than doubling down and trying to write another blog post on Kubernetes, I'm switching to another topic!

How I failed this week: I should have diversified earlier, having a backup topic prepared in case ownCloud didn't work out.

Lesson 3: Set Cutoffs

I'll admit it up front: this is my weakest area. When something isn't working, my natural tendency is to double down and try harder, rather than switch gears.

Sometimes in the world of technology, this can be a good thing: you might be one Stackoverflow post away from solving your problem, after all. Sometimes though, it'll cost you your whole day.

When you start on a task (or make an investment, or make plans for the weekend), it's a good idea to set a time limit.

This keeps you from falling for the sunk-cost fallacy.

How I failed this week: When I failed to get ownCloud running after several hours of trying, I should have realized it was a task for another day, and switched to writing about something else!

Lesson 4: Ask For Help

I'll admit it: I'm not the type to ask for directions. Asking for help can be tough!

That said, it's important to remember that no matter what you're doing or who you are, there's probably somebody else who has more experience than you do. Find that person, swallow your pride, and ask them how they would solve the problem.

An important part of this is getting over yourself, as well. People naturally have different skillsets, and people who lack your skills in one area often turn out to be far more skilled than you at something else. Make an effort to know the skills of those around you, and take advantage of those skills whenever you can! Your friends and colleagues will be more than happy to help you: just think about how you feel when you help other people!

How I failed this week: I should have asked the Kubernetes team here at Alibaba Cloud for help earlier than I did. Of course I did ask eventually, but too late to get an answer before the end of the workday!

Those are my top four tips. I hope they were useful, and I hope I myself do a better job sticking to them in the future! See you all next week!

I've Got A Question!

Great! Reach out to me at jierui.pjr@alibabacloud.com and I'll do my best to answer in a future Friday Q&A blog.

You can also follow the Alibaba Cloud Academy LinkedIn Page. We'll re-post these blogs there each Friday.

Not a LinkedIn person? We're also on Twitter and YouTube.

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