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Make the Other Mistake

Ramesh Sarukkai

Director of Engineering at Lyft

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Problem

It's difficult to self-correct to a point where you meet and exceed the expectations of those providing feedback. Often when people get feedback, they'll receive it in good faith and will try to improve. However, you may overestimate the effort you are putting in. For example, if someone was to say that you need to speak louder, you may try to do so. However, because you think you're a lot louder than normal, you may feel like that effort is enough, while others may still think you are still too quiet.

Actions taken

After receiving feedback, people will often try to adapt to improve to the level expected. But they should instead "shoot for the extreme". This means that you should try to go above and beyond what is expected of you. This approach is especially effective for team presence and assertiveness, and pushing harder when you have an opinion. In addition, it's effective for improving an engineer's productivity. You can do this by inspiring people to aim to be much more productive than the average engineer. If you are trying to jump exactly two meters, you may underachieve, and only jump 1.2 meters. However, if you are trying to jump two meters, and aim for three instead, you are more likely to meet your goals, and may even achieve more than your original goal. If you get feedback that suggests you have gone too far in the opposite direction, this is good, as you will then be able to scale back, and you will end up where you should be.

Lessons learned

By shooting for the extreme, people will often go past what they perceive as their own limits. By pushing the limits, you start exercising muscles you didn't know existed. For example, if you are afraid of public speaking, your first presentation may go badly, but if your second one goes better, you will then gain more confidence in yourself. https://medium.com/@mrabkin/make-the-other-mistake-7f449077839b


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Ramesh Sarukkai

Director of Engineering at Lyft


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