~2 min read|
I recently read Sam Altman’s 2019 blog post, How To Be Successful. Though the article is intriguing and full of good advice, I’m frustrated by one of the limitations of a single blog post.
It’s an issue that I run into often. When trying to address a topic as large as success, it is impossible to do it justice in a few hundred words. The options appear to be:
Sam seems to have pursued the first strategy. Without discussion or note of the many definitions of success, Sam outlined thirteen strategies to achieve “outlier success” derived from “observ[ing] thousands of founders and [thinking] a lot about what it takes to make a huge amount of money or to create something important.” I guess that’s what success means.
As I mentioned, this limitation is something I’ve struggled with frequently. It’s why I remind myself that writing is just the beginning of the conversation. If I don’t, I will never attempt to write anything where there’s any possibility of debate. That said, I do wish that Sam had been more forthright in acknowledging that he was describing one type of success. After all, the definition of success (or the “Good Life”) is not exactly a settled question. Maybe that’s just wishful thinking on my part. Perhaps I need to acknowledge that making this distinction is not Sam’s responsibility. Perhaps it’s the reader’s.
With all of that said, if you’re pursuing a life of huge amounts of money or creating something important (which feels incredibly squishy as a measure of success by the way - who defines “important”?), there’s a lot of good advice in it. There’s probably a lot of good advice even if you’re not pursuing those objectives. I certainly have been thinking a lot about it - and not just because I wish it came with a warning.
Hi there and thanks for reading! My name's Stephen. I live in Chicago with my wife, Kate, and dog, Finn. Want more? See about and get in touch!