Today I’m getting my bangs dyed pink.

After the lightening, my stylist (Jeff) had one of his coworkers put the pink dye in. She followed instructions, covering the lightened hair with the provided pink goo.

After the dye rinsed out, there was still a lot of yellow. The pink wasn’t dark enough. Jeff recognized the problem. He added some magenta to the light-pink dye, and put foil under my bangs to keep it off the rest of my hair.

This is the difference between a stylist and a master stylist: the master recognizes problems and potential problems, and tweaks the solution to match the situation.

It’s the same way in coding. A master developer recognizes problems before they occur or right away, and has an arsenal of tools to deal with them. Pairing helps, because in programming the possible problems are so many, one person won’t spot them all. There will still be some that slip by, and my hair isn’t quite as pink as I’d hoped. But Jeff’s decade of experience helps.

Next time you hit a problem and it takes forever to solve it, note the symptoms, learn some troubleshooting tools, and remember you’re one step closer to mastery.