I stumbled across a talk
for a high schoolers by Paul Graham
from 2005. He never actually gave it, because the school authorities vetoed the plan to invite him. Whoops!
Don’t know who Paul is? In 2005 he and Jessica Livingston, Robert Morris, and Trevor Blackwell started Y Combinator, the first of a new type of startup incubator. Since 2005 Y Combinator has funded over 1000 startups, including Dropbox, Airbnb, Stripe, and Reddit. 💥💥💥
What stuck out for me? His idea that passion is a bad word for curiosity. As in ‘following your passion’ advice for high schoolers. They don’t know what that is. Hell, many adults don’t know either.
Paul was referring to developing an aptitude, a consuming interest in some question. This is often referred to as passion. But finding out what you’re curious about isn’t passion. He says: “If you want to do good work, what you need is a great curiosity about a promising question.”
Ok, so its not passion, or discipline or the classic cheesy answers: “People who do great things look at the same world everyone else does, but notice some odd detail that’s compellingly mysterious.” Their success is due more to the fact that they’re not more passionate but more curious than others!
- “Kid curiosity is broad and shallow; they ask why at random about everything. In most adults this curiosity dries up entirely.”
- “Instead of working back from a goal, work forward from promising situations”
- “ if you’re not worrying that something you’re making will come out badly, or that you won’t be able to understand something you’re studying, then it isn’t hard enough. There has to be suspense.”
Share it with all the college freshmen you know!
As always, thank you for reading!