Applying Timeless Sayings to Modern Software Engineering

management leadership


Have you ever heard a saying that stuck with you for days? Those short, snappy phrases our grandparents used to say, filled with years of wisdom?

In this post, I’m diving into a fun experiment. I’ve picked a bunch of classic sayings and I’m going to twist them a bit. Let’s apply these timeless nuggets of wisdom to our everyday hustle in the tech world.

Why? Because sometimes, the best way to look at our modern challenges is through the lens of age-old wisdom. Plus, it’s a fun way to see how these universal truths hold up in the fast-paced, ever-changing world of technology. So, let’s get started and see what these sayings can teach us about coding, leading, and innovating in tech!

Adaptability and innovation

Let’s kick things off by seeing how old wisdom helps us think outside the box.

  1. Necessity is the mother of invention (La necesidad es la madre de la invención) – Ever wondered where the best product ideas come from? They’re born out of real needs. When we’re scratching our heads trying to come up with the next big thing, it’s the real-world problems that spark true innovation. Think of the creation of ride-sharing apps like Uber or Lyft. These apps were developed out of the necessity for more convenient, reliable, and accessible transportation options. So, when brainstorming for your next product feature or update, ask yourself: What do users really need? What problem am I solving? Sometimes, the best inventions are just about finding solutions to everyday hassles.

  2. A picture is worth a thousand words (Una imagen vale más que mil palabras) – This one’s about communication, like when thinking about user interfaces or product demos. Ever tried explaining a new feature without a visual aid and watched eyes glaze over? Yep, been there. But show a mock-up, a prototype, or even a simple sketch, and suddenly everyone’s on the same page. Visuals help bridge the gap between concept and reality, making complex ideas easier to grasp. Whether it’s a user interface, a graph showing performance improvements, or just a good ol’ whiteboard session, a visual can make your point clearer and more impactful than a lengthy explanation.

  3. Practice makes perfect (La práctica hace al maestro) – How many times have you heard about the 10,000-hour rule to master something? Well, it’s not far off in the coding world. The more you code, the better you get. Simple as that. Each bug, each new feature, and each refactor is a step towards becoming a coding maestro. Whether it’s a new programming language or a new project management tool, the key to adapting and innovating is to keep at it.

  4. Actions speak louder than words (Las acciones valen más que las palabras) – We’ve all been in those meetings where everyone’s talking about what they’re going to do. Plans, ideas, grand visions… sounds exciting, right? But here’s the kicker: it’s the doing that counts. Instead of just theorising about what could work, let’s get our hands dirty and start building. You’ll be surprised how action can spark creativity and lead to innovative solutions.

Team dynamics and collaboration

Now, let’s chat about teamwork. These sayings remind us how to work better together and make our team stronger.

  1. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you (No muerdas la mano que te da de comer) – We all have moments when we disagree with our teammates, clients or bosses. But remember, collaboration is key. Before getting frustrated or clashing, think about how we can work together to solve problems. It’s all about building bridges, not burning them. After all, teamwork makes the dream work!

  2. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link (Siempre quiebra la soga por lo más delgado) – This one’s about the power of the team. Let’s lift each other up! Mentor, guide, and support your colleagues. A team that grows together is unstoppable.

  3. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks (Perro viejo no aprende trucos nuevos) – Or can you? In tech we’re always learning, no matter how seasoned we are. It’s about staying open to new ideas, regardless of who they come from. The new intern might have just the solution we need. Let’s keep our minds open and our egos in check.

Great things happen when we respect, support, and learn from each other. So here’s to more high-fives and less eye-rolls!

Resilience and problem-solving

Next up, tackling tough times and tricky problems.

  1. Every cloud has a silver lining (No hay mal que por bien no venga) – Let’s face it, not everything goes according to plan. Bugs everywhere, deadlines missed, coffee machine broken. But as a leader, your job is to find the upside, the learning, the unexpected opportunity, the hidden blessing. When things go south, look for that silver lining. Maybe you learn a new skill, find a more efficient process, or bond with your team over late-night pizza. It’s there, I promise. And it can turn a setback into a step forward.

  2. Better late than never (Mejor tarde que nunca) – We’ve all been there, rushing to meet a deadline and pushing out code that’s, well, not quite ready. But here’s the thing: releasing something that’s half-baked can lead to more headaches than waiting a bit longer to get it right. Quality matters, folks, let’s not forget that in our rush to deliver.

  3. Measure twice, cut once (Más vale prevenir que curar) – Sometimes we’re so eager to dive into coding that we skip the double-checking part. But let me tell you, a little extra time spent on planning and reviewing can save hours of debugging later. Let’s embrace the value of a good, thorough review. Your future self will thank you!

  4. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire (Cuando el río suena, agua lleva) – Ever noticed a trend or a bit of feedback that keeps popping up? Don’t ignore it! In product development, these little signals often point to bigger opportunities or problems. Stay alert and be ready to act on these clues.

  5. Experience is the best teacher (Más sabe el diablo por viejo que por diablo) – Theory only takes you so far. As a manager, it’s your job to foster an environment where your team can experiment, make mistakes, and learn from them. The best lessons come from doing, not just reading or talking about it. Every challenge, mistake, and ‘oops’ moment is a chance to grow. So, embrace those experiences, they’re priceless lessons in disguise. And hey, the best stories come from those ‘you won’t believe what happened at work’ moments!

In tech, being resilient and a problem-solver isn’t just a part of the job; it’s what makes the job exciting. So let’s embrace those challenges. They’re what make us better at what we do!

Vision and strategic planning

Finally, setting big goals and making smart plans. These sayings shine a light on how to lead the way.

  1. The early bird catches the worm (A quien madruga, Dios le ayuda) – In tech, being proactive is key. It’s about seizing opportunities and not waiting for them to come to you. Whether it’s jumping on a new tech trend or addressing team issues before they become problems, being the ’early bird’ can make all the difference.

  2. It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission (Mejor pedir perdón que pedir permiso) – This one’s a bit cheeky, but hear me out. Sometimes, in the fast-moving tech world, you’ve got to take a leap of faith without waiting for the endless ‘okays’. If you’re always waiting for approval or consensus, you might miss out on some great opportunities. Of course, it’s a balance, don’t go rogue all the time, but don’t be afraid to make bold moves when you believe in them.

  3. Time is money (El tiempo es oro) – This one’s a no-brainer. As an engineering manager, your superpower is making the most of your team’s time. It’s about prioritising tasks, cutting down on unnecessary meetings (we all know those), and making sure everyone’s working on what really matters. Remember, every minute counts, so let’s make them all productive!

  4. The devil is in the details (En los pequeños detalles se ve el buen artesano) – Ever had a project go off the rails because of one small oversight? Whether it’s a tiny bug in the code, a slight error in a project timeline, or a small miscommunication with a team member, these things can snowball. So let’s put on our detective hats and pay attention to those nitty-gritty details. It’s the small pieces that make the big picture work, and as managers, it’s our role to keep an eye on them.

  5. Patience is the mother of all virtues (La paciencia es la madre de todas las virtudes) – If there’s one thing I’ve learned in engineering management, it’s that patience isn’t just a virtue; it’s practically a survival skill. Managing projects means dealing with unexpected delays, changing requirements and all sorts of hurdles. It’s like trying to solve a puzzle where the pieces keep changing shapes. But here’s the deal: getting frustrated doesn’t make the puzzle any easier. Instead, a patient approach (taking a deep breath, stepping back to reassess, and methodically working through issues) can make all the difference. It’s about guiding your team with a calm, steady hand, even when things get chaotic. Remember, good things (like successful projects) come to those who wait… and plan, and adapt, and communicate effectively. So let’s put on our patience hats and show these projects who’s boss!

  6. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush (Más vale pájaro en mano que cien volando) – Ah, the classic dilemma of chasing new features or polishing what you already have. It’s tempting to keep adding to your product, but remember, having something solid and reliable now is often better than chasing potential big wins in the future. Nail what you have before you reach for the stars.


So there we have it. We’ve taken a stroll down memory lane, linking classic sayings to our daily tech hustle. It’s amazing how these old phrases shed light on our modern tech challenges. From sparking innovation to enhancing teamwork, and even guiding our strategic decisions, these sayings are more than just old words.

Feel free to share your thoughts or any other sayings you find relevant to the tech world. Let’s keep learning from the past to innovate for the future!

Looking for more sayings in Spanish and English? Check this out!