3 Habits Of Highly Effective Engineers

What do the most effective engineers do that others don’t?

3 habits of highly effective engineers — Tyler George

Success always leaves clues.

If you’re an engineer working for a company you know that there are some engineers in your company that act like wizards.

Or if you’re in college you know that there are some engineering students that seem to be way past everyone else.

In this post I will talk about three habits of highly effective engineers that I have seen in my experience.

There are more habits than three that we can talk about, but we will stick to three for now.

Habit 1: The Question Mindset

The Question Mindset — Tyler George

Highly effective engineers ask questions. But they don’t ask just any questions, they ask thought-provoking, curious questions.

All curious questions engineers ask are in the form of an open-ended question.

These are questions that start with…

  • Who
  • What
  • Why
  • How
  • When
  • What if…

These are not negative questions like “Why do I have to do this?” or “When will this be over?”

These are NOT questions asked out of frustration.

These ARE questions that are asked out of intrigue!

These are questions that open up their mind to possibilities instead of closing their mind off.

I call this habit of great engineers the question mindset.

Through a question mindset, an engineer’s brain will consciously and subconsciously work problems, allowing them to come up with solutions at seemingly random times.

Don’t believe me? Go to any good engineer that you know and ask them if they have ever solved a problem in their sleep or while daydreaming. I guarantee you they will say yes

So habit #1 is to ask open-ended questions about what you are trying to design.

Habit 2: Requirements

confused dog — Tyler George

This is a very important habit in order to be successful as an engineer.

Imagine you are told to build a ladder by your friend.

You then go and build that ladder.

You show it to your friend and she says “This is wrong. I need a 7 foot ladder, not a 5 foot ladder.”

What was the problem here? The problem was in the failure to get clear requirements for what you needed to build.

You can be the best engineer in the world, but if you don’t know what to build, you can’t really put those skills to good use.

I’ve noticed the highly effective engineers that I have seen always know what the requirements are.

Even if the requirements are not clear, they do not hesitate to sit down with the systems engineer (or whoever they must sit down with) to get clear on what they must build and what the deliverables are before they move forward.

So habit #2 is to know the requirements of your system and what you need to build.

Habit 3: The 3S Formula To Success

There are 3 ways to cross a mountain.

  1. You take one giant jump over it.
  2. You try to find a shortcut around it.
  3. You climb it one step at a time.

Trying to jump the whole mountain is close to impossible. Some can, many can’t.

Trying to find a shortcut around the mountain is good, but you may spend more time trying to find the shortcut then actually completing the goal of getting over the mountain.

The tried and true method that will always work to cross the mountain, is to climb it one step at a time.

The most effective engineers I know do this. When you have a huge system you need to build, it is pretty much impossible to just build the whole thing.

You need to take whatever it is you need to build and break it down into small, simple steps that you can complete right now.

This is the 3S formula to success.

3S = Small Simple Steps.

You may not have every single step but that is fine. You really just need to know what your next step will be.

After you complete your first step, define your next step, then complete it.

Imagine if you completed everything that you said you were going to do? That’s why this formula is a huge component to success. It takes you away from just talking and thinking about the problem to actually making progress.

The advantages of taking small steps are…

  1. You will feel less overwhelmed with the big task.
  2. The process will become more enjoyable.
  3. You can actually measure your progress with how many steps you have taken and how many more steps you estimate you have to go.
  4. You get hits of dopamine (the feel good chemical you get when you eat food or achieve a goal) because you are actually getting things done.

If you keep taking these small steps eventually you will have a whole complex system built.

So habit #3 is to take small simple steps.


These are three habits of highly effective engineers that I have seen in my experience.

There are more habits but these are three that really stick out.

I hoped you enjoyed this post!

What’s Next?

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