Several NFL players were sitting in a meeting room, complaining about the heat. It was training camp for the Tennessee Titans in Nashville, TN.

Summers in Nashville are brutal. It’s hot. It’s humid. There’s no cloud cover.

It’s miserable.

As the players complained about the rigors of training in the stifling heat, future Hall of Famer Eddie George spoke up.

“It’s training camp. It’s supposed to be hot.”

I consider myself to be a software engineer of average talent with one very useful focus: I hate hard things. Software engineering is full of complexity that is a nightmare to work with. In my experience, most engineers fight this by trying harder to wrangle the complexity. My brain, however, has gotten to the point where it just stops. It refuses to spend any energy trying to figure out some convaluted hairball of complexity.

Instead, the vast majority of my effort goes to making things easy.

The correctness of this focus has come under stress recently as I’ve listened to Shoe Dog, the memoir of Phil Knight, founder of Nike. The way he talked about running was jarring to me. He was an accomplished long distance runner in college and spent significant time with the world’s best runners.

The best runners in the world never expected running to be easy. There was always a point where their lungs burned and their legs begged them to stop.

I hate running. Every time I’ve started jogging, I’ve assumed I would train enough to where that desire to quit would go away. At some point, running would become easy.


It never gets easy to run a 4 minute mile.

Training my mind to expect difficulty and beat it into submission is significantly different than training through difficulty with the hope of some future ease.1

Understanding this has helped me refine my understanding of good software engineering. Thinking is hard, and there is no tool that will do your thinking for you. My focus has never been about making thinking easy. Instead, I focus on removing anything that makes thinking harder than necessary.

I suspect this is true about anything worthwhile. It’s supposed to hurt. It’s supposed to be hot.

  1. It’s also motivating to know that everyone else is experiencing that same burning of the lungs. Then, it’s just about being willing to hurt more than the person you’re competing against.