Like so much of Paul Graham’s writing, his new piece seems shallow and unsupported on first reading. But there’s a great model of the world in it, and rare suitably-hedged advice. You don’t need to believe that any of YCombinator’s reflected glories are actually glorious to take something from it.
I recently ran a couple of related sessions for my students. (It takes an hour to run the following exercises – but if you’re honest with yourself that’s less than it’d take you to read the original.)
- How many areas have you seriously tried working in?
- What haven’t you tried but want to? 1
- What are you a natural at?
- What are you excessively curious about?
- What have you mastered? What are the gaps at the frontier of that?
- What would you do in a basic-income world?
- If you took a break from “serious” work to work on something interesting, what would you do?
- What intersections of things have you mastered? 3 Anything specific and boring?
- What is the hardest you have ever worked without an external deadline?
- How many independent projects have you done? (No teacher, no boss, no company, no manager)
- What open questions are you holding in your head right now? Have you actually tried to answer them? 2
- What is the most delighted you have been while working?
- Who are you trying to impress? Is that who you should?
- Cultivating luck: how many microfounders and micromuses are you accruing every day?
- If nothing pulls you, just keep sampling, go for max diversity and value of information.
- Resolve cycle: try to answer one in 5 mins, right now
- (e.g. Computer graphics, e.g. Bioinformatics, e.g. history of mathematics, e.g. )
Tags: work, self-help