The quote in the title belongs to Mike Tyson. And while I don’t condone violence of any kind, there is a lot of truth to that quote!
I read his quote in a business book a few days ago, and it was one of those things that have an after kick. Only after I got to the next page, I started to laugh at the very graphic explanation of an unexpected big surprise, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.
Why was this so funny to me?
It is funny because I am a big fan of plans and lists and thinking ahead and having a strategy.
But more often than not, something happened along the way (the so-called “punch in the face”) that threw my plan out the window. It does not look funny in the moment, but looking back, it is pretty amusing.
So what is the connection with web applications?
To understand, let us look at another useful quote, the Murphy’s Law: “If anything can go wrong, it will!“
This quote is a more pessimistic view of something that is statistically true: “If anything can happen, it will happen.” It does not matter if it’s good or bad, but since the bad one hurts, that’s what got captured in Murphy’s law.
When you build a web application, you do your best to plan, to foresee potential problems, and avoid the common pitfalls. The more experience you have, the better your plan is, and the more future problems you can avoid.
But here is the kicker: no matter your expertise, if something can happen, it will. And since there is no such thing as a perfect product, the inevitable will happen sooner or later. A surprise that does not fit into your carefully crafted plan.
This idea is not an excuse to stop caring and stop delivering excellence. It is just a word of caution that humbling experiences await you/me in the future :).
The reason I enjoy Tyson’s quote more is because of the visceral feel to it. I rely heavily on planning and my past experience, so when the rug is swept from under my feet, that scares me. I have always managed to recover, eventually, but still, I am not looking forward to the unpleasant experience of free falling.
However, I am told there is another way. And that is “falling with grace.” Accept that you cannot foresee everything and that the unexpected will hit you, and you will fall. But you can learn to fall with style, to fall forward, and to bounce back.
My plan to deal with the unexpected is to have backups, a cash reserve that can come to the rescue of the project, and always keep in mind that: if something can happen, it will! I should add to that more practice in falling :D.