Being Right Doesn’t Matter


Let it Go” by The Piano Guys based off the original from the movie “Frozen” 🎵

I originally wrote this post below in January ’23 but didn’t post it then and instead posted about Singlepane. The post was inspired by “The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership” by Jim Dethmer, Diana Chapman, and Kaley Klemp and was recommended by my amazing former manager Brandon Cox.

The first commitment is “Take Radical Responsibility.”

It focuses on self-awareness or rather, the ability of oneself to admit and own that we are responsible for our futures, the way we are perceived, and who we will become.

Our world doesn’t happen to us, it happens by us (and eventually through us and as us) – even in the case of external circumstances for choices others make. As summarized in this post on the book “Instead of blaming external factors, explore the internal causes…Ask yourself: What can I learn from this? How could I have helped to create or perpetuate this situation?”

It focused on why martyrdom is wrong even if you are right and not a way of leading and that being committed to being right is to lead unconsciously.

We can stay the way we are and say, “Why is this happening to me? Everyone else is wrong.” Or we can ask “What is the world trying to teach me?”

I had to learn being right didn’t matter – And today, I still remind myself of that lesson.


January 14th, 2023

I don’t remember when I started laughing at my job(s). I only remember that things got a lot better when I did.

That feeling is the metric I use to measure myself and culture. I know how well I’m doing today by how much I and those around me laugh – and I continue to make myself more sensitive to that. These days I feel like it’s still not enough and there is work to do.

It is hard to make video games.

It keeps getting harder. It took me a while to realize how far I’ve come when I meet other people in architecture and look at their designs and realize, somehow, I know what’s missing.

And if I know how to fill their gaps I can help save them from disaster. I’m not 50% confident I’m right — I’m 100% confident because I’ve seen this before and I’ve done it before.

It’s really hard to fake if you’ve ever made a game or not, much harder than faking how much you know architecturally – there are too many trials by fire. Might as well tell the truth. I’m sure you’ve laughed at job postings that expected engineers to have years of experience for specific technologies that didn’t actually exist for said years.

Meanwhile, there are real jobs that expect architects to know 250+ cloud services or multiple clouds and all their settings or at least be willing to try.

That’s wild. But okay.

Engineers can’t possibly be right all the time in a macro environment where designing architecture also requires reverse engineering the choices of people over time.

In any case, if you manage to make it through that and have a career in games and infrastructure then you probably end up feeling like “but I’m right!” all the time and don’t actually want to go through the exercise of explaining why you are right because it was so hard to get here in the first place.

You feel blocked. You’re here to save people. You’re here to keep infrastructure safe.


Trust me, if that’s where you are, one of the hardest steps is next.

Let Go. Screw being Right.

The journey of appreciating that you know you’re right and then extending to the other person that they might be right as an engineer is when you’ve finally peaked.

If you make it to that point, you begin to appreciate the challenge of others questioning your judgement and why you should to grow people instead of technology.

“That’s an interesting way to do this. What about this condition?” You extend your politeness…knowing…full well…that sometimes one only truly learns the boundaries of their ego by trying to fight goliath with not even a rock they’ve been given. The best way to build influence? Making a polite suggestion to a person who is extremely confident in their choices, having them ignore it, and then run at fire while you hold the bucket of water and bringing it to them. Then, instead of laughing at them, hugging them digitally speaking, and championing them for trying.

Screw being right – it’s not any fun.

If you’re reading this then there is a high likelihood you know how hard it is to do what architects do. What site reliability engineers do everyday. What backend engineers do. You know it is ridiculously hard. For this reason, sometimes engineers want their “being right” to be implemented as soon as possible and accepted by peers.

If I’m right and you’re wrong and you push to production the whole site goes down – you learn your lesson anyway – and I promise I will not laugh at you, I will laugh with you, because I’ve been you.

I’ve had an ego too.

We can laugh about it later and try to do it less poorly next time and as your friend, your colleague, I respect you – I trust you to extend my boundary to take that risk together.

If we aren’t laughing with each other but at each other, we’re doing it wrong. It will not only be reflected in our culture, but be reflected in overall downtime and the money wasted on arguing over patterns we should, instead, try.

Companies waste a ton of time (money) arguing over who is right and creating layers of approvals for it.

But being right doesn’t matter.

Learning does.

The Reminder

It is possible to look at any moment, look back on it, and ask “Was I wrong?”
But one will never know until taking the responsibility to have self awareness and ask.

It is through learning do we actually become right.
But it is through trial do we learn that being right doesn’t matter.

Header Image by Paul Green from Unsplash.