Monday, February 18, 2013
Venture capitalist Chris Dixon provides us with a
pretty dramatic example of the difference between setting one's own goals and
falling into the default of living according to the conventional wisdom:
Years later, after Peter [Thiel] built and sold PayPal, he reconnected with an old friend from [Stanford Law School]. The first thing the friend said was, "So, aren't you glad you didn't get that Supreme Court clerkship?" It was a funny question. At the time, it seemed much better to be chosen than not chosen. But there are many reasons to doubt whether winning that last competition would have been so good after all. Probably it would have meant a future of more insane competition. And no PayPal. The pithy, wry version of this is the line about Rhodes Scholars: they all had a great future in their past.Dixon adds, "Credentials can open doors. But don't let them become an end in themselves." Just as predictive models can fail for completely unanticipated reasons, so can success in uncharted territory arise from what almost everyone might regard as disaster.