Last week, my PM told me that we were behind on an urgent Laravel project and that our team was at capacity for the developers who could work on it.

In that moment, I realized that I could step into the code and help out or stay out of it and look for alternate solutions.

I decided to help out and carved off a few pieces of the project to spend just a day and a half on.

Then I spent the last three days writing code. It was the first time in eight years that I’ve programmed anything. Most of the time was spent getting my environment set up and learning Laravel’s API.

Just when I was wrapping up my section of the project, our lead developer hopped on a call and said not to worry about it- he had completed the same work earlier that morning in a little 30 minutes sprint.

I had to laugh.

In the moment when I made my decision, I knew that getting into the operational work was a huge red flag.

I hadn’t slept well and was tired and frustrated and not in a good place to think. I was also feeling pressured because this summer has been crazy.

With the benefit of hindsight, it was obviously a mistake. But the next time something like this happens, I won’t have hindsight until it’s too late.

For me, the lesson to remember is that as the business operator, your primary implements are your systems and people. And the skill you should be applying is thinking, not doing.

If I had slowed down, calmed down, and thought it through I could have worked with my team to navigate a path through this little crisis with higher impact rather than dusting off my development environment.

Experience is a painful teacher, but you remember her lessons.

Featured image is of Shakespeare’s’ Henvry V- print of Act III, Scene i: “Once more unto the breach, dear friends!” By Thomas Robinson (printmaker) – Folger Shakespeare Library Digital Image Collection used under CC BY-SA 4.0