无语的大牙

Paul Graham谈有想法就别退缩

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。下面是本文的第二十六部分摘录,也是最后一篇:


Believe it or not, I tried to make this essay as short as I could. But its length at least means it acts as a filter. If you made it this far, you must be interested in doing great work. And if so you’re already further along than you might realize, because the set of people willing to want to is small.

The factors in doing great work are factors in the literal, mathematical sense, and they are: ability, interest, effort, and luck. Luck by definition you can’t do anything about, so we can ignore that. And we can assume effort, if you do in fact want to do great work. So the problem boils down to ability and interest. Can you find a kind of work where your ability and interest will combine to yield an explosion of new ideas?

Here there are grounds for optimism. There are so many different ways to do great work, and even more that are still undiscovered. Out of all those different types of work, the one you’re most suited for is probably a pretty close match. Probably a comically close match. It’s just a question of finding it, and how far into it your ability and interest can take you. And you can only answer that by trying.

Many more people could try to do great work than do. What holds them back is a combination of modesty and fear. It seems presumptuous to try to be Newton or Shakespeare. It also seems hard; surely if you tried something like that, you’d fail. Presumably the calculation is rarely explicit. Few people consciously decide not to try to do great work. But that’s what’s going on subconsciously; they shy away from the question.

So I’m going to pull a sneaky trick on you. Do you want to do great work, or not? Now you have to decide consciously. Sorry about that. I wouldn’t have done it to a general audience. But we already know you’re interested.

Don’t worry about being presumptuous. You don’t have to tell anyone. And if it’s too hard and you fail, so what? Lots of people have worse problems than that. In fact you’ll be lucky if it’s the worst problem you have.

Yes, you’ll have to work hard. But again, lots of people have to work hard. And if you’re working on something you find very interesting, which you necessarily will if you’re on the right path, the work will probably feel less burdensome than a lot of your peers'.

The discoveries are out there, waiting to be made. Why not by you?

信不信由你,我尽量让这篇文章尽可能简短。但长度也意味着它起到了一个筛选的作用。如果你读到这里,你一定对做出优秀的工作感兴趣。如果是这样,那么你已经比你自己意识到的更进一步了,因为愿意追求卓越的人并不多。

做出优秀工作的因素从数学意义上来说是:能力、兴趣、努力和运气。运气是无法控制的,所以我们可以忽略它。而且如果你真的想做出优秀的工作,我们可以假设你会努力。因此,问题归结为能力和兴趣。你能找到一种工作,让你的能力和兴趣结合起来,产生一连串新的想法吗?

在这方面,我们有理由保持乐观。有很多不同的方式可以做出优秀的工作,甚至还有更多尚未被发现的方式。在所有这些不同类型的工作中,你最适合的那一种很可能非常接近。可能是一个几乎完美的匹配。关键是找到它,以及你的能力和兴趣能让你走多远。而唯有尝试,你才能得到答案。

很多人都有能力尝试做出优秀的工作,但实际上却没有这么做。阻止他们的是谦逊和恐惧的结合。尝试成为下一个牛顿或莎士比亚似乎是傲慢的。而且似乎很困难;如果你尝试了那样的事情,你肯定会失败。或许这个心理计算很少是明确的。很少有人有意识地决定不去尝试做出优秀的工作。但在潜意识中,他们回避了这个问题。

所以我要对你使用一个巧妙的策略。你想做出优秀的工作吗?现在你必须有一个有意识的决定。抱歉,我不会对一般的观众这样做。但我们已经知道你感兴趣了。

不要担心显得傲慢。你不必告诉任何人。而且如果这件事太难,你失败又怎样?很多人有比这更糟糕的问题。实际上,如果这是你面临的最糟糕的问题,你会觉得自己很幸运。

是的,你需要努力工作。但同样,很多人也需要努力工作。而且如果你从事的是你非常感兴趣的工作,这必然会让工作感觉不那么沉重,相比你的许多同行来说。

发现的机会就在那里,等待着被发现。为什么不是你去做呢?


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