What have you learned the hard way?

Career, tech, testing, or life related…

Do you have any stories to share about things you learned the hard way? :slight_smile:

I’ve learned a lot of things the hard way.

  • It’s possible to drive 1500 miles with an untreated broken ankle. Not pleasant, but possible.
  • If your mobility is limited (by, say, an untreated broken ankle) you need to schedule certain biological functions because by the time your body makes you aware of the need your limited mobility does not give you time to reach the proper location to perform said functions.
  • Computer chairs can act like wheelchairs in a pinch.
  • Never assume that changing a default value does not impact functions like save, submit, or load.
  • In software development and testing, theory fails when confronted with real-life constraints.
  • You never find all the bugs
  • The customer always has at least one configuration you didn’t think to test. Adding this configuration to your standard tests will only reveal another configuration you didn’t think to test.

And people wonder why I’m a bit on the cynical side.


Here are some things that I learned hard, or with discomfort. Things that shaped who I am and how I work.

  • Being right does not matter, nor does it change the world. Being both popular and believed is what calls people to action.
  • People prefer ignorance to instruction, but persuasion to ignorance.
  • Being really good at testing is not as important for getting things done as being liked. Not even close.
  • The people who champion goodness are often the worst practitioners of evil. The people who champion kindness are often the worst practitioners of cruelty. The people who champion open-mindedness are often the worst practitioners of solipsism.
  • An ignoramus with power or money outranks an astute person with none.
  • Nobody knows what they are doing, everyone is afraid, and the people we pretend to be only meet the people everyone else is pretending that they are.
  • Some people will give their life before they admit they were wrong.
  • Politics outranks truth, image outranks substance and reputation does not always precede its promises.
  • Ideas are the most infectious and virulent things. They are bulwarks. If they have evolutionary advantage then they will persist and spread, and what is true or good is not important in this regard. A lie that gives comfort will see its host take up arms against its proving.
  • Racism and sexism of cartoon-like proportions, the kind that approaches funny in its self-satirising tragedy, like if tribalist ignorance was a clown, exists at the highest levels of some companies. As a software solution can contain any bug, so can a suit.
  • Feminism is humanism with a contentious name, and can be pursued by men for their own benefit before considering the discomfort of sacrificing independence to social demand.
  • Reality is entirely subjective. We each live a story without understanding the stories of others. Those that can understand the stories of others sometimes use the power for evil.
  • Art is very hard. It is possibly the most misunderstood and underappreciated abstract, common concept in human consciousness.
  • Not everyone likes, appreciates, understands or will tolerate the benefits of constructive argument.
  • Complicated words occasionally make you look smart, but occasionally like a dick.
  • I am occasionally smart, but occasionally a dick, and frequently enough to live in shame.
  • Failure is vital to growth.
  • Passion is necessary but can be poisonous.
  • Self-reflection is necessary but can be poisonous.
  • Judging someone is either a sign of a lack of critical thinking or imagination. This is why it’s so natural and everyone does it - it’s a low-cost, utilitarian heuristic.
  • The new Limonata San Pellegrino with sweetners in it is indistinguishable from a can of chilled urine and I’ll take issue with anyone who says otherwise.
  • When your brain is nagging at you that something is wrong, don’t dismiss it. Your brain is very good at working things out on your behalf, and that signal is important to listen to.
  • Don’t go to bed angry with your spouse. Work things out before going to sleep.
  • Apologize to your children when you are wrong. Which is more often than you’d probably like to admit.
  • If you don’t tell people what’s going on in your head, they don’t know about it.
  • If someone isn’t in a position to learn, you cannot teach them. That doesn’t mean that they are incapable of learning – however, if you don’t address the things blocking their learning first, they aren’t going to listen to you at all.
  • Just about every failure is recoverable. Some failures take longer than others.
  • Sometimes, testing in a “standard” way results in tests which look good on paper, but aren’t deep enough, complete enough, or misses something obvious to a tester who examines the system critically.
  • Sometimes, testing in a non-standard way will have other people thinking that your tests are not structured enough.
  • The balance between “standard” and non-“standard” testing which you need is different for each context.
  • Coaching adults in testing does not qualify you for coaching 7 year olds in football.
  • Having screwed something up doesn’t mean you ruined it.
  • Even if you ruined it, it usually isn’t the end of the world. (or even the project)
  • There are testing lessons to be learned in everything.
  • Sometimes, the best thing to do with a toxic work environment is to leave, even if you leave with nothing except your mental health. Sacrificing your health for a losing battle is not worth it.

this used to be my reaction to this: :sob: