Thoughts Work

The Curse of Being an Engineer

It’s not all glamour.

Engineers solve problems. Thanks to that analytical thinking and restless motivation we have pushed our species forward.

It’s like an instinct, something that we do without actively triggering it. When we start listening to a problem, at the back of our mind we are already coming up with a solution.

That’s why you should not look for an engineer when you just want to vent out. By time you end the conversation, you’ll leave with a plan, complete with milestones. Probably you didn’t want a solution, maybe not even advice — you just wanted someone to listen to you and feel your pain.

A photographer looks around and notices photographic opportunities. The eyes are trained to notice that among everything else.

An engineer looks around and notices flaws, inefficiencies — in a word, problems. The brain is biased to notice and act upon them.

Now comes the “problem”.

  • Not all problems have a solution.
  • Not all solvable problems want to be fixed.
  • Not all solvable problems can be fixed by you.
  • Not all solvable problems can be fixed without you quitting your job.

And, as an engineer, that urge “to fix” is something we must learn to control and sometimes subdue, otherwise we’ll fill ourselves with frustration.

With greater power, comes greater responsibility.