"You've got this!" can be fatal. Know when to get a second opinion.

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“You’ve got this” can be fatal

The entire production database had just been emptied out. And it was my fault.

I had never been a database administrator, but I was sure I could do it.

“You’ve got this,” I kept telling myself.

I’m pretty good at mimicking experts. And it often serves me really well.

This time, it didn’t.

The pattern I copied was one for updating “stored procedures” – bits of data-manipulation code stored on the database server.

The pattern said, “If this stored procedure already exists, delete it. Next, create the stored procedure with the following logic.”

Without thinking things through, I applied that same pattern to the scripts that created the tables to store the data, “If this table already exists, delete it. Next, create the table with the following structure.”

All the scripts worked just fine in our test environment, where we didn’t have a lot of data.

But when it came time to apply those scripts in production, all of the data we had been collecting for months suddenly vanished.

We were about to go live in two weeks. And a backup process had been put in place, but not yet tested. Fortunately for me and my career, it worked.

But how did we get here?

I adopted a role I hadn’t been trained for, and I told myself, “You’ve got this.” I didn’t ask anyone to review what I had done before running it in production. (I know better than that now.)

And sometimes as leaders we’re quick to tell our team “You’ve got this” when we haven’t prepared them for what they’re about to face.

If we’ve hired the right experts, or if we’ve trained our team and modeled success, then “You’ve got this” can be one of the most empowering statements we can give.

But for the untrained and unprepared, it’s abandonment.

And it just might be fatal.

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