Admitting your mistakes…quickly.

I’ll openly admit it. I’m not infallible. I do not know everything. And I can (and do!) make mistakes.

One of the most important aspects of an IT professional, from my point of view as an operations cog, is to admit your mistakes as quickly as you possibly can. Don’t be shy. Don’t hide behind ego, don’t hide behind bravado, don’t hide behind fear. Admit it, be upfront and open and let others know. This is so much more than just “important” when your mistake can have affects on other people and other peoples systems.

Maybe because I was taught, from a young age, that “everyone makes mistakes and we learn from them” it’s made it easier for my to stick my hand up in the air and do one of the most embarrassing things possible:

“Yeah, sorry about that. I fucked up. I’ll fix it.”

I’ve uttered this phrase (or something similar…usually with less swearing) on more than one occasion. I’m not afraid to admit it. Everyone *does* make mistakes. We’re just not very good at admitting when we make them.

I have a big problem with this. I admit, sometimes it’s because it’s not noticeable but the big ones that are noticeable or that will cause problems – they need to be admitted, they need to be fixed. they can’t be wept under the carpet, they can’t just be “forgotten”. They need to be owned up to. You don’t have to stand in a public place and do it. You don’t even have to admit it to a large number of people. But at least the people who will be either affected or will have to help fix it. Even if you’re able to fix it yourself, if you know there are complications or issues arising because of your mistake, own up.

Please, for the love of all that is holy and good in this world, just own up. It makes things so much easier.

In the last 6 months, I’ve had two relatively large mistakes.

The first was a group policy/Windows Update error. It was quite large, affected a number of servers (and by a number, I mean more than 100) and meant that some servers either didn’t receive their updates or (in my eyes, a little worse) updated by themselves out of schedule and randomly rebooted. BIG screw up. My fault – that’ll teach me for thinking I knew about GPO precedence (which I do now!). It was fixed, the servers that did reboot out of schedule weren’t critical (thankfully) and all is now well in the world of Windows Updates…I hope.

The second was a very quick but very stupid mistake. When in the VMWare Client, I clicked on a server in the, at that point in time, currently expanding list of servers. I then opened the console. I then clicked reboot. Anyone guess what happened?

If you guess that, because the server list was still expanding, I ended up rebooting the wrong server, you’d be dead right. Holy shit was that a “What the fuck have I just done moment” if ever I had one. I found the server I’d rebooted, quickly contacted their system owner and let them know what had happened. Their response? A bit of a laugh and a “Thanks for telling us, it’ll make things easier when we’re bringing it back online”

See, no one is going to be angry. No one is going to hurl obscenities…at least, not to your face. Admitting you made a mistake can seriously HELP fix the issue before it snowballs and becomes a much, much bigger one. I have all the respect in the world for people who put their hand in the air and admit they just screwed up. Purely because they didn’t hid behind their ego or their fear of showing that they didn’t know something or that they were fallible.

So please – if you make a mistake, just own up to it. Pretty please?

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