How do you cope with the fact that you let other people down?

Not long ago I applied for a job as a Quality Assurance Engineer at Gameloft’s Bucharest Studio, a job I always dreamed of having ever since my parents first put a NES controller in my hand. I’ve always felt like working in QA would only mean a way of entering the industry and climbing up the ladder from there, but lately, I’ve come to like what I do, and the people I work with. I’m surrounded by a howl bunch of awesome and open-minded fellows which I came, quite easily I may add, to consider friends, not just co-workers. I enjoy every moment of every day working there, knowing that my team is always there to back me up, put a smile on my face and teach me new stuff that I can later on use in my own projects. Heck, I’ve learned a howl bunch of things during the past 4 months, things that I never thought I’d learn this way.

During my first two months I had a little problem adapting with the schedule and learning the type of tests I had to do, and I felt my boss and leads where disappointed with my actions. So I tried to give it my best and for a while, it worked extremely well. I was happy knowing that they actually trusted me hence, for me, it really matters what opinion they have. But old habits keep hitting me in the crouch, so sooner or later I had to do something to upset the balance. And that indeed happen today, due to not paying attention to a task I did allot of time. It wasn’t something really big, but thanks to that little mistake, all my work for that day was annulled. I wasn’t sanctioned, although I hoped I would have. That would have been a hundred time more easy to cope then the look my boss gave me. Seeing the expression of disappointment on the face of the person you look up to is quite… well I can’t find the words to express how I felt seeing Mihai look at me like that. Even worse, I felt really bad when he had to leave offering to shake the hand of my lead, but not mine. I tried so hard during the past few months to grow in his eyes, in the eyes of my team mates only to see all my efforts shattered in the very end.

I feel that every time I try to do something good, every time I set my mind to something, in the end, I always screw it up. It’s like a curse, a curse set upon me by myself.  And the question that keeps running through my head over and over again since 1 hour ago till now is: Why do I keep letting down the people I respect the most? Why do I keep letting down even myself? It’s not the first time I ask myself this, and I know it won’t be the last time, but what can I do? And how can I recover from this? There’s no way of knowing if I would be trusted again, there’s no way of knowing if I could allow myself to be trusted by the team.

Ironically, today I was talking to a friend of mine about how I changed and how “awesome” I am now. This comes to show that even though I feel like I’ve changed allot, in the end, I’m only fooling myself. It’s hard to cope with that, knowing that I have so much potential but I never get to use it all. Another reason I’m upset is that I could have avoided this mistake even after I did it, by cheating with the results. It has crossed my mind, but I don’t think that cheating is the answer. Till now I tried to be as correct as possible, but in the long run, doing the right things always seems to be the stone upon which I trip and fall. I’m not trying to say that starting from now I’ll try to cover up every little mistake I will make, I won’t do that, because what I truly want is not to make mistakes at all. But I can’t stop wondering if I’m good enough to work on something important. For me, working at Gameloft means actually doing something important. My name appears on a few titles, like Asphalt 6 – Adrenaline, a huge personal achievement. I see myself as a peace of the puzzle, one of the bricks that keep a building together. If I screw up, the entire building can crumble and fall apart, thus I cannot afford any more mistakes. But who am I to say this won’t happen again? And even if my Boss “forgives me”, how do I know that I won’t let him down again? How can I live with myself knowing that I may, nay, I will screw something up in the distant future, something of great importance? I don’t wanna quit doing things that matter, but I don’t wanna feel responsible for not doing them right. So I guess my question for you guys is, How do you cope with the fact that you may let other people down?

Any advice is welcomed and encouraged. I’m really interested in hearing your opinions on this subjects and receiving tips. Thank you all for reading.

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4 thoughts on “How do you cope with the fact that you let other people down?

  1. Hell man, everybody does it, it’s unavoidable. Timing might not be the best at times but it happens. Not necessarily the best example here, but Facebook grew thanks to not being afraid to break things, so did Twitter. Shake the feeling of guilt and you’ll find mistakes easier to cope with, it’s one of the things that build your career from junior to senior.

    Don’t even think of the fact that you might break something, just think of what exactly is it that you have to work on and what results you need to deliver, that’s it. Yeah, sure, Mihai is disappointing, so is your lead and maybe the whole team and honestly there’s a very small chance of that not happening again. But then again, there are a lot of things that can work out for you and your team thanks to your efforts, work on that and you’ll achieve more than just hoping not to screw it again.

    Cheer up man, the biggest mistakes are usually done by seniors and by the time you get there you’ll also learn what to do to get it sorted.

    Good luck and I’m honestly glad for you because you made it in the game industry, hopefully I’ll get at least close to it by the time I hit 30’s because I still think games are more dynamic and interactive than the web.

  2. I’ve been in the position of having people depend on me, where failure wasn’t really an options, so I can try and give you a little advice.
    Firstly, identify what is keeping you from achieving your goals and try to eliminate it or find a way around it. In my case, soul crushing depression, is solved by watching an hour of comedy each day.

    Second, if you have any habits that get in your way, have a reminder on you, at all times (rubber band on wrist helps), that you should stop, if that doesn’t work, flick the rubber band, it stings. After a while you’ll start to feel less inclined to follow trough the impulse of the old habit, and the impulse will die down. Example: I used to play TF2 and LoL a lot, instead of working, always saying that one more game wouldn’t hurt. Note, I didn’t use a rubber band, my PC just burst into flames, it was still painful.

    Third, if you have any complex tasks that you need to do, tasks that require specific steps that are mostly similar, try and turn parts of them into reflexes. Repetition helps build muscle memory and even lets your brain store the exact sequence. After some time you’ll be able to do things while thinking of something completely different, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep an eye on what you’re doing.

    Lastly, review your work constantly. Review it when you finish a segment and review it when you finish the whole thing. I’m still working on this myself, since I am amazingly lazy. Having a good memory, or a list of stuff that needs to be done and how, will help.

    Hope it helps. Also, you may have the benefit of having coworkers, something I’m not really familiar with, unless you count my plants as coworkers. When in doubt, ask for help. You’re all aiming for the same objective, so it’s in the groups interest for everyone to do well.
    An one more thing, be honest to yourself, don’t give in to the thought of cheating, even though you can get away with it. You’re a good person, so the nagging feeling that you know you cheated will ware you down eventually.

    Good luck, chin up, and don’t worry, failure is happens to everyone, but will died down with time.

  3. I know exactly what you’re talking about. The thing is, all you can do is try to make it better next time. If you fail again, try harder. It’s exactly like a video game:

    if fail -> try again

    if succeed -> do a happy dance and proceed 🙂

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