Finding Your Purpose

path-in-boboli-gardens.jpg Paul Graham has one of the best articles I’ve read, How to Do What You Love, on finding your passion.

Some of the best passages:

Why is it conventional to pretend to like what you do? … If you have to like something to do it well, then the most successful people will all like what they do. That’s where the upper-middle class tradition comes from … [C]onventional attitudes about work are, without the owners even knowing it, nth-degree imitations of the attitudes of people who’ve done great things.

His thoughts on prestige:

Prestige is like a powerful magnet that warps even your beliefs about what you enjoy. It causes you to work not on what you like, but what you’d like to like.

That’s what leads people to try to write novels, for example. They like reading novels. They notice that people who write them win Nobel prizes. What could be more wonderful, they think, than to be a novelist? But liking the idea of being a novelist is not enough; you have to like the actual work of novel-writing if you’re going to be good at it; you have to like making up elaborate lies.

And perhaps my favorite observation:

Prestige is especially dangerous to the ambitious. If you want to make ambitious people waste their time on errands, the way to do it is to bait the hook with prestige. That’s the recipe for getting people to give talks, write forewords, serve on committees, be department heads, and so on. It might be a good rule simply to avoid any prestigious task. If it didn’t suck, they wouldn’t have had to make it prestigious.

I do disagree with him on one point. He says that in finding what you love to do, you shouldn’t worry about the opinions of anyone beyond your friends. I’d go even further: don’t worry about what your friends think. This is your life to live, so choose accordingly.

Read the full post here.

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March 15, 2007. life, Money, Passion, personal, Personal Development, Work.

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