I have a difficult relationship with the concept of ‘a sense of accomplishment’. I feel like it’s somewhat necessary to true motivation, but then I feel it’s a character flaw to truly feel such a sense. I feel like I’ve done a lot of good work, but there’s always more I could have done. I feel like the things I’ve done are significant, but if I pointed them out to the average person, they’d be far less than impressed.
One of my clients reached a big product milestone recently. It’s pretty amazing that I’ve been with this product since its inception until this milestone. I felt the need to reflect on what I’ve worked on in the product in that time.
- code generation for AS3 to Python RPC
- HTML and RTF paste
- spell checking
- highlights and callouts
- XBRL HTML slicing
- equation parsing and evaluation
- slimming Flex module download size
- HTML import
- browser issues with keys and mousewheel
- Google AppEngine/EC2 integration
- parallelization of translation functions
- Undisclosed Big-Deal Project
- PDF export
When I look at each of those bullets, I remember lots of work that I had to do on each, the difficult problems that arose and the solutions to them, the necessity of each function and the contribution toward the overall product. But I also remember the things left undone that could make each function more perfect, the work that others did that I can’t take credit for, that if I pointed out these functions in the app, someone unfamiliar with the job wouldn’t understand the work that it represents, and that in at least one of these projects, all of my code is now dead.
So my sense of accomplishment is a complicated and fragile thing. That’s not a problem; actually, when I say it, I feel like that’s a more mature attitude than one that’s more monolithic. Maybe that’s a partial solution to the question I mentioned above of whether it’s a character flaw to feel a sense of accomplishment: maybe it’s only hubris to feel good about the foreground of one’s accomplishments if one doesn’t also understand the inseparable background against which they are viewed.