A new decade is upon us and I don’t have any predictions to share, the world is far too surprising and crazy for me to attempt that. Instead, I’ll share four things I have learned over the past ten years and one big lie.
Truth #1. Everyone frames the world in terms of their strengths. Investors think everything is driven by money, software engineers see software eating the world and lawyers think in terms of statues and contracts. Everyone thinks about the world in the way they have most mastered, giving very different views of the same thing. The catch is that none of them are wrong, they just aren’t right. The world isn’t simply mathematics or software, or laws and money. It’s a complex place and once you look from more than one perspective it will open itself up to you.
Truth #2. Almost all of success is luck. Hard work, dedication and talent are prerequisites to success but they alone can’t make you successful. None of us choose how we are born, where and to whom and in today’s society those things matter a lot. Today, and for the foreseeable future, the circumstances of your birth determine much of your future success not because they make you successful, but because they control how many opportunities you have to be successful. Privilege is not a cheat code, it doesn’t do the work, but it gives you the opportunity to do the work yourself. Many people don’t have those opportunities so if you do, please find a way to give some to someone else who doesn’t.
Truth #3. No one likes your ideas because they have ideas of their own. When you have a great idea, it can seem like a magical thing. You can be excited, nervous and scared all at the same time. Part of you doesn’t want to share the idea in case someone steals it, but if you do muster the courage to share it you are always disappointed at the reactions of others. Why? Because they have their own magical ideas that excite them, just like you. If you want someone to be excited about your idea, turn it into reality. People love ideas made real and then they can start to get excited along with you.
Truth #4. Every day is a gift. Life is precious and you only get one. The horrible twist is that you never know how long it will be, you could live another day or another fifty years. I know people who have worked at jobs they hated for a retirement they never lived to see, and others who only lived for today so they never found long term happiness. You choose how you live the life you’re given, so live it well by whatever definition you want.
The Lie. Everything I’ve listed here are my opinions and not facts. Unfortunately, that’s the way it works today: you express your opinion with confidence, throw in some supporting information and people see them as facts. It’s the great plague of the digital age, where opinions shape the truth for most people far more than facts. If you take one thing away from this entire list please spend more time thinking critically for yourself instead of trusting the opinions of others.
Disagree with any of these? Great! That means your critical thinking is in action already. Keep it up!
I look forward to learning more over the next ten years.