Engineer like a Motherf#cker

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Recently I was listening to the Tim Ferris show. He was interviewing Cheryl Strayed who explains how to write like a motherf#cker. Despite the foul language, her explanation struck me and applies to engineering as well.


In this article I am giving you Cheryl’s tips (read her column) and my own insights on how to engineer like a mother#cker.

1. Shut up

There are a lot of people who complain about missing parameters to complete their calculations. Or there are other uncertainties of the project that withhold them to give sound advice to a client. Cheryl’s first tip is to shut up, stop complaining and start to engineer like a mother#cker. So, start with what you have and stop wasting time on being insecure or complaining.

Perhaps you’re just starting as a young engineer or you’re a longtime specialist in your field. You’ve been trained for your work. Trust your capacities, experience and skills and get to work.

This also means that you should be daring to come up with other solutions instead of hiding behind the insecurities of your parameters or calculations. Your client wants to know what to do or to have enough options make a sound decision.

2. Be humble

This doesn’t mean that you should be a subservant or weak. Cheryl explains that humble comes from the Latin words ‘Humilis’ and ‘Humus’ meaning ground. To be on the earth. When you shut up (1), you start and try to make your calculations. You might fail. In that case, do not complain or feel sorry for yourself, but be strong in the midst of humility. Aspire greatness by being humble. What does this mean?  Don’t focus on success and achievement but put faith in the work and be demanding of yourself when you’re doing the work. This means also that you listen to your clients, your colleagues and other specialists in the field, And that you refrain from putting others down or to outvoice others.

Humility also means that you need to be honest. Honest that you don’t know certain things, that you need help or to learn some other skill. By all means, do not let this be an excuse not to do good work right now.

3. Surrender

So, surrender (to uncertainties) and accept to get strength and power to do your job well. Trust that you have this inner strength within you to succeed in doing something hard.

Use your character strengths like creativity or perseverance which are available to you at all times to aspire to this greatness.

Surrender is letting go. I had been preparing for a workshop for a couple of weeks. One day before the event, the client informed me that he wanted something completely different than I’d prepared for. Instead of complaining or being insecure, I decided to let go and trust my capacities to facilitate a great workshop. And it was!


Perhaps you’re not an engineer at all. Perhaps you’re in sales, perhaps you’re a waiter or a stay at home dad. No matter what your profession is, I invite you to do whatever you’re doing to aspire greatness and to do it like a motherf#cker.

How do you engineer like a mother#cker? Let me know in the comment box below. I am looking forward reading from you!

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