A couple of meta-programming links for you, from Ward and Kent, and a slightly related topic I recently ran into.
From Ward, a blog post titled 'Is "Agile" Too Easy?'. While Ward ends up talking about agile, what I found more interesting was the general concept of "the essence".
From Kent, a movie of a talk he gave titled "Ease at Work". I'm 100% certain I've never sat down and watched one hour straight of YouTube, till I watched this. When starting the last segment, I realized I should have watched it via the wii instead. Next time.
Both Ward and Kent are discussing some of the intrinsic qualities and mind-states of programmers. Interesting stuff. The kind of stuff we all know, but never really think about too much.
I ran into another one of these intrinsic qualities the other night when I attended the panel "Breaking Into the Game Industry" presented by the Triangle chapter of the IGDA. The triangle, as it turns out, is home to a large number of game companies. Three triangle-based game company execs were answering questions on how to get a job in the game industry. One meme that kept coming up, was that the companies were looking for people with "passion". They don't just want good technical people, they want good technical people who will love their job. Like the "essence", passion is something "we know when we see it", Gladwell-ian Blink style. Gaming companies have the luxury of making this an absolute requirement due to the large number of applicants they get to select from, compared to the rest of the software industry.
Regarding "essence" and "passion", these are obviously qualities we desire to have in our own jobs. But they also seemed like the distillation of the qualities we look for in potential new hires, in co-ops who may become new hires eventually, and future team-mates, whether you're adding to your team, or shopping for a new team to work with. Good, simple memes to keep in mind.
Kent's talk provides what I would consider some suggestions on maintaining the passion, or more pessimistically, dealing with passion-killing work habits, for those times when you don't happen to be on the 'genius' side of the roller coaster.