TITLE: Unsurprising Feelings of Success AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: February 28, 2011 4:16 PM DESC: ----- BODY: As reported in this New York Times obit, Arthur Ashe once said this about the whooping he put on my old favorite bad boy, Jimmy Connors, in the 1975 Wimbledon championship:
"If you're a good player," he said softly, "and you find yourself winning easily, you're not surprised."
I've never been a good enough tennis player to have his feeling on court. Likewise with running, where I am usually competing more with my own expectations than with other runners. In that self-competition, though, I have occasionally had the sort of performance that tops my realistic expectations but doesn't really surprise me. Preparation makes success possible. In the non-competitive world of programming, I sometimes encounter this feeling. I dive into a new language, tool, or framework, expecting slow and unsteady progress toward competence or mastery. But then I seem to catch a wave and cruise forward, deeper and more confident than I had right to expect. In those moments, it's good to step back and remember: we are never entitled to feel that way, but our past work has made them possible. When those moments come, they are oh, so sweet. They make even more palatable the tough work we do daily, moving one shovel of dirt from here to there. -----