smart = results/effort
I also recall someone on Quora referring as the distorted picture in places like Stanford described as the "duck syndrome": on the surface, everyone seems to be coasting calmly, but below, they are paddling like mad.
* * *
Praising kids and people can be so friggin' difficult. I remember playing football (soccer) in school, and I was a bit of a geek, but when I played, I would sometimes get all these "compliments": "Nice one, kmfrk!", "You played a great match today" from class mates and the gym class teacher. Most meant well by it - some didn't - but even though I wasn't very old, what was going on was very transparent. (I was a blatantly bad player, except as a goalie, so I took the compliments about my role as the latter more to heart.)
It downright annoyed me, because I knew that I was awful.
It has made it very hard for me to discern actual praise in my life.
results = effort x smart
smart = sum(previous efforts)
immediate results = immediate effort * sum(previous efforts)
It's the basic heuristic of elegant code, for example: elegant code maximizes the ratio of results to coding effort. The opposite is when you get the results, but by slogging through a bunch of inelegant boilerplate.
It's also the whole premise behind the "hacking the workweek" type ideas, though I realize not everyone likes those.
If anything, I'd say it's a pretty pervasive part of hacker culture, and what differentiates it to some extent from "normal" engineering culture: hackers aim for that results/effort win, the cool hack, virtuosic performance, etc., rather than the N-hour straightforward, carefully managed slog. Not even just because it saves time/money, but because somehow it's intrinsically interesting to see people finding ways to get great results via a route other than "I just plowed through it and got it done". That's sometimes necessary too, but it's not the part that gives the hacker spirit a spark.
I have trained track and field for some years now and if I would try to compare myself with Michael Johnson, I would always be a failure. But in every sport you are (at the end) just trying to improve yourself and competing against yourself. My point is that you could have been doing a good game (for you) even without being anything similar to Pele, and maybe they were praising you for that.
It's also a reminder to be specific about your praise, too - nebulous praise is useless.
Agreed. I hit the wall in the final year at University. Worst time ever.