An idea that sounds counterintuitive at first can be extremely accurate when you think it over thoroughly. Like the one saying that you shouldn’t follow your passion to lead a fulfilling life. Ben Horowitz, a famous cofounder of a16z – one of the most successful VCs in the USA, shared this piece of advice and few more during an inspiring commencement speech at Columbia University in May 2015.
The speech had three splendid conclusions:
1. Think for yourself
2. Do not follow your passion
3. You live in the age of opportunities
Think for yourself
In order to create something incredible:
Think for yourself.
Many people prefer to be liked rather than unique.
But being liked is much much less important.
Because if you want to be liked you tend to say things other people want to hear.
And they like hearing stories they:
- feel comfortable with.
So you keep repeating the same stuff.
Complaints about government, news from TV.
Doing this you can easily overlook some groundbreaking ideas.
Concepts which emerged from your unique sets of experiences and connections between them.
Groundbreaking ideas often sounds ridiculous.
Hard to believe.
But it doesn’t make them false.
So the fact that other people do not get them shouldn’t discourage you.
World has its secrets on which you can build awesome things.
Startups like Airbnb, Brainly or Videdressing were built on such secrets.
One of these secrets is the fact that people feel pretty comfortable renting entire apartment from stranger for a weekend.
Airbnb was built on an unique experience of Joe and Brian, who rented 3 air matresses to people. ‘Surprisingly’, people didn’t consider them to be serial murderers. Hotel chain is a relatively new invention. In the past people used to sleep in inns or at other people’s.
Another secret is that students around the world massively search for study help online.
Problems with homework and study are common around the entire world. On general Q&As students often do not find satisfying answers to their problems. On the other hands sources like books or Wikipedia do not offer personalised solutions and students find them less useful. Also they lack a community feel that is very tempting for teenagers. That’s why they love Brainly so much.
Another one: women are not that satisfied with buying second-hand clothes on eBay.
Women prefer shopping at sites like Videdressing because on eBay they lack community touch, as well as confidence and great experience of clothing brands and fashion magazines.
But those are the things; those are the only things — things that YOU believe, that everybody around you doesn’t believe — that when you’re right that create real value in the world. Everything else people already know. There is no value created. It’s just business as usual. So it’s so important to think for yourself.
Do not follow your passion
You may thing that doing what you love will make you successful.
Well it may be that being successful will make you love what you do.
There are four big problems about following passion:
1. Passions are hard to prioritise
You can have a lot of passions. Which one to follow then?
2. They change with time
What you are passionate about today is not neccessary something you will be passionate about in 2, 5 or 10 years.
3. You may be not good at them
If you love doing something it doesn’t necessary mean that you are good at doing it.
4. They are very egocentric
It is better to look around and find out how you can contribute to the world.
You should search for contribution instead of passion.
Something that you are good at.
More – something that can change peoples’ lives for the better.
It will make you successful and happy.
Find the thing that you’re great at, put that into the world, contribute to others, help the world be better and that is the thing to follow.
You live in the age of opportunities
We are living in a pretty safe world.
Thanks to the Internet we can immediately access information…
Connect with people around the world…
Create and contribute.
Yet there are still a lot of problems.
Choose one of them and attempt to solve it.
Can you imagine any better circumstances?
If you contribute, if you put your contribution into the world, if you think for yourself, then I believe that you will be the greatest generation. Because when we look back 50 years from now, 100 years from now, 500 years from now, you will be the generation that unlocked human potential.
Ben is not the only person who says that following passion is not the most important thing:
You’ve got to put something back into the flow of history that’s going to help your community, help other people (… ) so that 20, 30, 40 years from now (…) people will say, this person didn’t just have a passion, he cared about making something that other people could benefit from.