无语的大牙

Paul Graham谈各个年龄各有优势

美国著名程序员、博客作者和技术作家保罗·格雷厄姆(Paul Graham)在其个人网站上的长文《How to do great work》给仍然雄心勃勃的年轻人提了一些建议,适合每位对自己仍有期望的朋友反复阅读。下面是本文的第十六部分摘录:


Take as much risk as you can afford. In an efficient market, risk is proportionate to reward, so don’t look for certainty, but for a bet with high expected value. If you’re not failing occasionally, you’re probably being too conservative.

Though conservatism is usually associated with the old, it’s the young who tend to make this mistake. Inexperience makes them fear risk, but it’s when you’re young that you can afford the most.

Even a project that fails can be valuable. In the process of working on it, you’ll have crossed territory few others have seen, and encountered questions few others have asked. And there’s probably no better source of questions than the ones you encounter in trying to do something slightly too hard.

尽可能承担你能承受的风险。在一个有效市场中,风险与回报成正比,所以不要寻求确定性,而是寻找预期价值高的赌注。如果你偶尔不失败,那你可能过于保守了。

虽然保守主义通常与老年人联系在一起,但年轻人往往会犯这个错误。缺乏经验使他们害怕风险,但在年轻时,你承担得起最多的风险。

即使一个项目失败了,它也可能是有价值的。在开展这个项目的过程中,你会穿越很少有人见过的领域,遇到很少有人提出的问题。而在尝试做一些稍微困难的事情时,遇到的问题可能是最好的问题来源。

Use the advantages of youth when you have them, and the advantages of age once you have those. The advantages of youth are energy, time, optimism, and freedom. The advantages of age are knowledge, efficiency, money, and power. With effort you can acquire some of the latter when young and keep some of the former when old.

The old also have the advantage of knowing which advantages they have. The young often have them without realizing it. The biggest is probably time. The young have no idea how rich they are in time. The best way to turn this time to advantage is to use it in slightly frivolous ways: to learn about something you don’t need to know about, just out of curiosity, or to try building something just because it would be cool, or to become freakishly good at something.

That “slightly” is an important qualification. Spend time lavishly when you’re young, but don’t simply waste it. There’s a big difference between doing something you worry might be a waste of time and doing something you know for sure will be. The former is at least a bet, and possibly a better one than you think.

The most subtle advantage of youth, or more precisely of inexperience, is that you’re seeing everything with fresh eyes. When your brain embraces an idea for the first time, sometimes the two don’t fit together perfectly. Usually the problem is with your brain, but occasionally it’s with the idea. A piece of it sticks out awkwardly and jabs you when you think about it. People who are used to the idea have learned to ignore it, but you have the opportunity not to.

So when you’re learning about something for the first time, pay attention to things that seem wrong or missing. You’ll be tempted to ignore them, since there’s a 99% chance the problem is with you. And you may have to set aside your misgivings temporarily to keep progressing. But don’t forget about them. When you’ve gotten further into the subject, come back and check if they’re still there. If they’re still viable in the light of your present knowledge, they probably represent an undiscovered idea.

年轻时要充分利用自己的优势,年老后则要发挥年长所具备的优势。年轻时的优势包括精力、时间、乐观和自由,而年老后的优势则包括知识、效率、财富和权力。通过努力,你可以在年轻时获得一些年老后的优势,并在年老时保留一些年轻时的优势。

年长者还有一个优势,就是他们知道自己具备哪些优势。而年轻人往往在拥有这些优势时并没有意识到。其中最重要的优势可能是时间。年轻人并不真正了解自己拥有多么丰富的时间资源。将这段时间转化为优势的最佳方式是以稍微轻松的方式利用它:出于好奇心学习一些你不必了解的东西,或者仅仅因为觉得有趣而尝试构建一些东西,或者变得异常擅长某个领域。

然而,请注意这里的“稍微”是一个重要的限定条件。年轻时可以慷慨地花费时间,但不要简单地浪费它。在做一些你担心可能是浪费时间的事情和你明确知道会浪费时间的事情之间存在很大的区别。前者至少是一个赌注,而且可能比你想象的更好。

年轻人最微妙的优势,或者更准确地说是经验不足的优势,是你以全新的眼光看待一切。当你的大脑第一次接触一个新想法时,有时它们并不完全契合。通常情况下,问题出在你的大脑,但偶尔也可能是想法本身有问题。有时候,这个想法中有一部分不太合适的地方会在你思考它时刺痛你。那些习惯于这个想法的人已经学会忽略它,但你有机会不去忽视它。

因此,当你第一次学习某个新事物时,要注意那些看起来不对或者有遗漏的地方。你可能会有忽略它们的冲动,因为有99%的可能性问题出在你自己身上。你可能不得不暂时搁置你的疑虑以继续前进,但不要忘记它们。当你在这个领域进一步深入时,回过头来检查它们是否仍然存在。如果在你目前的知识范围内它们仍然有意义,那么它们很可能代表着一个未被发现的想法。


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