Seasoned or Cynical

It’s amazing what people can do when they don’t know they can’t.

In the beginning you don’t know all the reasons it won’t work.

As the years pass you’ll marvel at what you though was possible – the risks you took.

And still you’ll see other beginners taking on windmills. Some windmills will batter the riders. Some riders will topple their windmills.


Reminiscing with a senior developer that I used to manage we talked about a project we worked on together that had major flaws. I told him, “Don’t worry. That’s what has made you senior. Now you really do know better.”

Failure can teach you good judgment. At best it will teach you which fears are realistic – which gambles pay off.

A junior developer often makes up for inexperience with occassionally wreckless enthusiasm. But senior developers often earn their keep by what they choose not to do.

A senior developer (hopefully) knows the difference between ambitious and unrealistic.

They need to be able to look at a project and say, “Yes, we can do that with these critical changes.” And each part of that sentence is important.

“Yes, we can do that” – don’t let your experience lead to cyncism where every project is doomed to fail and any who think they can achieve something are Polyanna.

“… with these critical changes” – filter out all of the good or simply true ideas to bring forward the indispensible ones. Conserve your ammo.

If you aren’t careful failure might instead turn you into a member of the “no way” choir. If you aren’t careful you might believe that only saying why a project might fail is actually adding value. It’s not. Not really.


I’ve watched junior developers deliver so much more than their senior teammates that it was embarrassing. Perhaps those senior developers overcompensated for failure.

I’ve seen junior developers merrily build weeks of work on a platform that was genuinely incapable of supporting success. Perhaps those junior developers needed more help from a senior developer.

Still, it’s amazing what people can do when they don’t know they can’t.

The truth embedded in Wiley Coyote’s gravity defying double take is that often it is our own perception of doom that causes our doom.