Safety Guaranteed

Editor’s Note: I originally posted this in twitter but it deserves a more permanent home here.

Not Guaranteed
Sometimes you really can change the past

Over the last three years, since changing jobs from the role I had been in for the previous 13, I’ve been trying to use that transition to change something that I wasn’t proud of.

Throughout my career, often when under stress/duress (and I was always stressed) - I had that white-tech-male tendency to be a total jerk when asked questions or presented with statements that were really questions that I felt like the asker should know the answer to already.

I was stupid, foolish, bordering-on-bullying. It’s just flat-out wrong.

Changing that is one of the primary reasons I chose to take a Support Engineer position. I wanted to be person I always needed when I asked my own questions. I always have wanted to create an environment where people can ask questions without fear. And I was often failing at it.

I needed to learn how to always have empathy, especially when I was under stress.

The thing about Support Engineering is this: you cannot be an effective Support Engineer and be a jerk about the questions.

Not even privately.

Not ever.

Aided by the fact that supporting a complex product, in hundreds of different customer environments is hard and humbling, and I’m an expert in the product (whatever that means) I’ve been able to develop that empathy for customer questions.

I’ve done pretty alright there.

But what about my colleagues?

A few weeks ago, as part of my 360 review - one of my colleagues anonymously wrote:

“Jason makes me feel safe and comfortable asking questions”

Straight up, I almost cried.

To my colleague, whoever you are. Thank you. That meant the world to me. That statement was the praise that has mattered the most to me over the last few years, and maybe my whole career.

If there is anything that I’ve ever wanted to accomplish, that was it.