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Grace Hopper on asking for forgiveness vs. asking for permission

Grace Hopper was a pioneer in computer science, an amazingly talented programmer, and the person most often attributed to one of my favorite quotes:

A ship in port is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for.

So I absolutely adored every second of this clip from a talk she gave back in 1993 on the importance of performance, understanding your code, and asking for forgiveness instead of permission when trying to get stuff done in a space where out-of-touch stalwarts gatekeep who can do things.

So I want to tell something to all the young people here. On many, many, many occasions, you’ll find it is much easier to apologize than it is to get permission.

You do it. Then when someone comes after you and says, “Are you supposed to do that?” you go, “Oh gee, I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to do that.”

Go watch the whole thing if you have a few minutes. It’s really good!