Charity Majors @mipsytipsy CTO @honeycombio, ex-Parse, Facebook, Linden Lab; cowrote Database Reliability Engineering; loves whiskey, rainbows. I test in production and so do you. 🌈🖤 May. 17, 2018 2 min read

Been thinking about the advice we give folks, esp jr and intermediate engineers.

I love telling people to go home, have life/work balance, take a vacation etc, but also feel uncomfortably hypocritical. Why am I urging them *not* to do the things that got me to where i am today?

Maybe it's reflective of the bubble I live in, but I find it difficult to imagine telling someone they need to work harder, try longer, that they won't master this new skill without hundreds of hours. I expect motivation to be intrinsic and near-obsessive.

So we say things like "go home, take care of yourself, I'm concerned that you've been here til 8 pm multiple days this week!". and never say things like "huh, you might really need to work a little harder and longer to master this"

I dunno. I have never been a moderate creature. When I was in college I had this theory I could only sleep on weekends and thus study weekdays for one major and weeknights for another. This lasted three years. I haven't changed much.

Most successful people I know have an edge of intemperance, especially in their first decade of working. It's *hard*. You need a voracious appetite for failure to master anything truly interesting.

When I tell my people to please take care of themselves or go home or take a vacation, I rarely mean it literally. What I mean is: "I care about you, I worry about you, I'm proud of you, I want you to be happy -- whatever that means for you personally."

Some of the best times of my life were times when I was working so hard, so much, it was clearly unsustainable.

But sometimes we have to do things that don't scale. I was also giddy, elated with the knowledge that I was leveling up like a motherfucker and doing what mattered.

I have been trying to moderate my mother henning lately, and save it for the extreme cases.

Because I have seen my words set people up to not succeed at honeycomb. I worry that they create unrealistic expectations.

People have come to work for us and we have had to let them go because they definitely succeeded at self care, but they did not succeed at leveling up at really tough concepts. I never even saw them really *try*. They just put in their 4-6 hours a day, often from home...

and I felt frustrated because I lacked the words. I don't know how to tell someone *care harder*, *work harder* in a way that's at all encouraging or uplifting.

Anyway. I believe that there's a world out there where engineers are worked to death, told to do more and work harder, and that's what we are all reacting to with our self care language. I just need to find a balance in my personal world, I think.


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