Tuesday, July 30, 2013

There must be a real chance that you may fail

If you know exactly how a challenge or task will turn out, is it really a challenge and will its completion mean much to us?

Paul Graham writes:
"The best protection is always to be working on hard problems.  Writing novels is hard.  Reading novels isn't.  Hard means worry: if you're not worrying that something you're making will come out badly, or that you won't be able to understand something you're studying, then it isn't hard enough. There has to be suspense.
 Well, this seems a grim view of the world, you may think.  What I'm telling you is that you should worry?  Yes, but it's not as bad as it sounds.  It's exhilarating to overcome worries. You don't see faces much happier than people winning gold medals.  And you know why they're so happy?  Relief.
I'm not saying this is the only way to be happy.  Just that some kinds of worry are not as bad as they sound."
On a harsher note, Nassim Nicholas Taleb writes in The Bed of Procrustes:
"If you know, in the morning, what your day looks like with any precision, you are a little bid dead - the more precision, the more dead you are."
Charles Murray offers this view in Coming Apart:
"People need self-respect, but self-respect must be earned - it cannot be self-respect if it's not earned - and the only way to earn anything is to achieve it in the face of the possibility of failing.  . . .  People need self-actualization, but self-actualization is not a straight road, visible in advance, running from point A to point B.  Self-actualization intrinsically requires an exploration of possibilities for life beyond the obvious and convenient."
It's not supposed to be easy.

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