When you are running a website, one of the worst things that can happen is a crash. The site goes down, none of your members can access anything, it’s a total disaster! My worst nightmare. As a member of our small IT team, my colleagues and I work hard behind the scenes to ensure a smoothly running website. If we are doing our job properly, you won’t even realise we are around, and that’s a good thing. But every now and then we do get noticed. And not in a good way.
Last week I crashed the site.
There, I’ve said it. Last week I, personally, all by myself, crashed the site. Most of you won’t have even known, because it happened in the wee small hours (since I’m in Australia, it was civilised working hours for me), but it most definitely happened. It wasn’t a virus, we didn’t get hacked, it wasn’t a power failure or a server failure, it was me. I am sure I gained several grey hairs that night, and I’m not positive my pulse rate has returned to normal just yet. It was my worst nightmare!!
Since you are reading this now, you’ll know that we managed to get everything up and running pretty quickly. With the benefit of hindsight I have to say that my worst nightmare was actually a very good thing. Not good that the site was down, but good because of what we learned about ourselves, our members and the technology. I discovered that one little bracket in the wrong place can cause an entire site to be completely unusable. I learned that keeping copies of everything as I go is not obsessive but essential. I learned how to get help and who to call. And if I make the same mistake again (which I hope I will not!) I learned how to fix it myself. I learned a better way of doing what I was attempting so I will not crash the site next time. I learned that if not for that rogue bracket I was completely on the right track.
Learning by your mistakes is a hard way to gain knowledge. But I can guarantee that experience will stay in my mind for a lot longer than if I had got it right first time. I was stretching myself way beyond my comfort zone, and having to admit to myself, my team mates and our members that I stuffed up was not my idea of fun. But if I don’t keep stretching, pushing the boundaries, trying and failing, then I might as well just give up now. I didn’t enjoy the experience, but I wouldn’t have traded it for anything!
In the words of a few smarter and more experienced people than I:
A failure is a man who has blundered, but is not able to cash in the experience. ~Elbert Hubbard
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” ― Thomas A. Edison
“Science, my lad, is made up of mistakes, but they are mistakes which it is useful to make, because they lead little by little to the truth.” ― Jules Verne
“The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” ― Henry Ford
and my personal favourite, from J K Rowling, who famously was rejected by no less than 12 publishers before someone agreed to produce the first Harry Potter book:
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