Our interview with Nick Spragg in last month’s newsletter hit a chord with me. Nick said, “I wish we were more accepting of failure at our leadership level”. In general, people don’t react to failure the same way as they do to success. Many of us enjoy credit for our successes but also look for something (or someone!) else to blame when we fail.
Perfectionism is a symptom of fear of failure. Because perfectionists have such high expectations for how they expect things to turn out, they may experience a nagging fear that they won’t live up to those often unrealistically high standards. The thing is, no one or no thing is perfect and if we try to make something perfect, we will not succeed and just be disappointed.
Failure, mistakes, and mishaps play a vital role in helping us learn and grow. When we fail, it helps us get a deeper understanding of the issue. When we consciously consider a failure, it not only improves information recall but also improves critical thinking. According to a report published in Scientific American, when you make a mistake, your brain creates new neural connections by taking in new information and compiling the key takeaways from trial and error, resulting in more efficient neuronal pathways. We learn from our mistakes so that we don’t make them again in the future and become more resilient.
Many things that we perceive as failures can sometimes become something more meaningful and profound if we give them enough time. In Elizabeth Day’s podcast How to Fail, Brené Brown initially thought that her TED Talk, ‘The Power of Vulnerability’ in 2010 was an “unmitigated clusterfuck” and “felt like a failure”. If only she knew that it would become one of the most viewed TED talks of all time.
Unfortunately, most organisations penalise mistakes, creating employees who are risk-averse, too shy or nervous to try anything new. A fear of failing breeds doubt and inaction, and is the enemy to innovation. Failure is inherently emotionally charged and getting an organisation to accept it takes leadership. The best companies are those that encourage failure, embrace out-of-the-box thinking, and allow employees to make mistakes. When reframed as a good, constructive, and essential part of learning, failure is a master teacher. A great leader faces failure, owns it, and is still motivated. Leaders create and reinforce a culture that counteracts the blame game and embrace failure as a way of learning and moving forward.
Last month we celebrated the company anniversary with a team dinner and reflected on why Blackmill was created. After decades of working for large renowned organisations, we saw patterns of issues, problems, and roadblocks within teams and leadership. Instead of trying to help one organisation to work better, we decided to help more. We build stronger teams, leaders, and organisations for better results because thoughtful engineering practices lead to quality, stability, and effectiveness. We look forward to the next five years at Blackmill. Cheers!
It’s been a year since the last time we ran free office hours. For May, we set aside eight slots, twice a week on Mondays and Fridays. There are still a few left! These sessions could be used to discuss your product, to pair program on code, to discuss your team culture, or anything else that is on your mind at work. So book a session and come chat to us. Feel free to share this with people around you who could also benefit.
Leading Engineering Teams workshop is next week and a couple of tickets are still available.
If you want to become a leader that embraces diversity, failures, and challenges; a leader that nurtures a culture where people feel safe to be their authentic selves and do their best work. Then join Elle and Lachlan on June 20th–23rd to unlock team performance at our Building Inclusive Teams workshop. Tackle some of the most challenging issues and roadblocks that leaders face during their careers. Tickets are available until June 10th.
If you need to refine your technical skills, then join us on June 6th–9th for Test Driven Development with RSpec workshop. Learn everything you need to know to start practising TDD in your Ruby projects. TDD involves writing your tests first, enabling you to quickly discover mistakes and prevent defects to guide you as you write your actual production code. You develop a test safety net as you grow your product which supports you now and in the future to help you keep code working as you add features.
I’m a Front-end Developer and Designer, and also newly calling myself a Founder! I recently started an agency, coquelicot.io, specialising in Shopify store theme development. I have been having so much fun working within the Shopify ecosystem. Theme development plays to all of my front-end strengths, while Shopify handles all of the back end concerns. I appreciate that I’m working to enable small businesses and solo entrepreneurs to have amazing top tier professional websites in an affordable way.
The isolation of working from home and working solo. My new agency is currently an agency of one, and I greatly miss collaborating with others. I’m hoping to grow enough to work with a team again.
CSS and how it just keeps getting more and more awesome. 2022 is going to be a banner year for CSS, there are some amazing things shipping like Cascade Layers and Container Queries. The new aspect-ratio property is already life changing. I’ve always been more interested in new browser specs over new frameworks.
Last year I started a new contract/consulting position with a company at only one day a week for the first month + while on a road trip. They were insistent on the timeline to cover their staffing shortage and accepted my initial time limitations. I didn’t think it would make a big difference, but it negatively affected our working relationship from the start. I wasn’t able to focus and integrate with the team and company properly or build trust, and that was difficult to recover from. I’ll make sure in the future that I have proper focus and time to kick off any new engagement.
Lately, I’ve been taking almost daily walks or runs through Central Park in NYC which is very close to my apartment, and I like to cook or make cold process soap from scratch while binge watching British mysteries.
Follow what interests you. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed on what you should learn, as trends in our industry are constantly changing. I have made my career out of being really good at CSS, which is not a traditional tech role career path, but it’s kept me curious and kept me growing all around.
Only one thing?! To paint a very broad stroke, I wish we could all be more tolerant of others with different values and beliefs. We’ll never all align on the same religion or culture, the only thing to do is to learn to respect and accept our differences.
These are the potatoes I made for Thanksgiving with Elle, Lachlan, and other friends in Austin in 2018. This recipe is from my second mother, our neighbour Cindy. This is a take on something I’ve heard called as a “Funeral Potato Casserole” because it’s often brought to a large gathering and is easy to prepare and share. I’ve always called it the “Trashy Potato Casserole”. It sounds disgusting but it is really amazingly delicious. It is the best and worst of American cuisine.
Serves 8 -10
Thank you for showing an interest in our newsletter and we hope that you enjoyed the read. Feel free to contact us if you have any feedback, a burning question, or just a recipe that you would like to share.
Until next time, keep learning!
Everyone at Blackmill