The idea for this blogpost came from missing a call with Michael Ong, lead organizer and founder of #ProductBeer, because of a careless mistake on my part ending with me only getting back to him five hours after our supposed meeting time. I apologized profusely, making him say something that ended up being my takeaway from this experience: “Stuff sometimes just comes up… Murphy’s Law!”
“Everything that can go wrong, will go wrong.”
I looked it up briefly on the internet and jokingly said to him that I should be more aware of this principle as a project manager, in which he replied that he did learn to not be too upset by this fact early in his career.
The incident made me reflect on my own tendencies to be overly critical of myself, ending in me feeling undeserving of what I had achieved because I was “such a failure” all because I did one thing not up to my own standard. Extreme, I know, but I learned over time that this was my own weakness that I need to continue working on.
Murphy’s Law is a pessimistic take on the human being’s perception of the events that happen to them; where they take for granted the moments when things are going according to plan, and only remember the moments when things go wrong.
It is a lesson of eternal vigilance and, conversely, a source of comfort where we know that the worst will inevitably come but since we have embraced that possibility, we are better able to prepare for it so that the “worst” that does come, won’t be so bad after all.
When I did research on this adage, I came across another saying that ties in nicely with it in the product perspective so I’ll borrow that thought and adapt it here. Murphy’s Law paved the way for “idiot-proof” products, where product engineers and designers create their systems in a way that lessens the chances of the worst thing from happening (i.e. a lost human finger from operating an industry grade paper cutter or the destruction of infrastructure due to one careless engineering mistake). But even with the greatest care, Murphy’s Law finds a way to prevail which proves the point to the following adage:
“If you make something idiot-proof, the world will create a better idiot.”
And sometimes, that idiot can be you. And you have to be okay with that because when you’ve already done your best to soften the blow but the worst comes anyway, “we can only go up from here”, right?