Smart people double check their work.

For number 8 of my #40mantras I move into what are called habits of mind. These are techniques that can be learned, and double checking your work is the first of them.

I first read Art Costa’s book when my wife was in grad school. I was one of those guys who was reading her books while she was doing homework. And what surprised me was how applicable it was to my business, not just the education field.

All of us want to be considered smart. Right?

But deep inside we question if we’re all that bright. Well, now we don’t have to hope any longer – because Costa highlights that many of the things we consider “smart” are simply habits that can be learned.

One of the most important of these is a focus on accuracy and precision – which should be assumed as critical for the software industry (where all of my #40mantras have been tested for years).

Costa introduced me to “three before me” which was the idea that before turning something in, or calling it #donedone, three people had also looked at it. In my world it’s meant pair programming, peer review, code reviews and many other tactics to live out the same strategy.

But it always comes down to the simple fact that we will be a team of high performers if we double check our work. We don’t let sloppy mistakes persist because it not only leads to failure, but maybe even more importantly, leads to mistrust.

After all, if you can’t trust what your teammates are doing, you can’t rely on them. And if you can’t rely on them, you’re either doing all their work again (to verify it), or unwilling to work in a team. Neither of those leads to a high performing team.

So we develop the pattern, the routine and the habit of double checking our work.

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