Deciding What You Do

By editor on February 20, 2018 — 2 mins read

There’s all this psychological burden around failure which is self-inflicted. Nobody actually looks to put you down. And so it’s you really internalizing that that’s actually true and as a result there is literally nothing to lose. There’s nothing to lose. All you end up doing is self-actualizing. I mean it’s crazy — this is like psychological first principles. I’m not saying that that part’s easy. Because you have to basically remind yourself of that every day because then you have all these other people who are like, “Oh, I have a job at Deloitte, look at my condo” and you’re like, “Oh, I’m still poor.”

So I get it. But you have to see past the superficiality of those decisions. And I’m not saying those are easy either. I was in a horrible financial state. I grew up on welfare my whole life. I was not in a position where I could not make that decision initially. And when I went to Nesbitt Burns, I was taking a job for money. And so I did it, and when I quit it was a real punch in the gut for our family because I was the oldest kid and I was the one paying for everything. So, I’m not saying it’s easy, but I didn’t have much to lose, actually.

I think everybody has to have a set of experiences that get them to that point. And everybody’s time horizon will be different. Mark [Zuckerberg] can drop out of Harvard. I mean think of how hard it is for you to drop out of Harvard. Like, that is way harder than dropping out of San Jose State, I must imagine. Right? Or Laurier. It’s Harvard, you know? Or Waterloo. It’s like, dropping out of Waterloo’s hard. Right?

So he got there really early, he got there when he was 18 years old. I got to my point in life when I could make a decision like that at 23 years old. Some people make that decision at 38 years old. The question is, are you giving yourself a chance to be introspective enough to get to that place in your life?

Where you’re willing to take a shot and work for yourself, do the things that you like, independent of how people judge you?

That’s a big deal. No matter however that manifests and whatever you end up doing. And that’s what I mean by box-checking. I was listening to this podcast. There was a woman who was telling this story about how she was sent to Catholic School, first day, grade one, she’s like, “Oh my God, don’t ever send me to Catholic school, I don’t want to be told what to do. I want to read what I want to read,” etc.

The story goes full circle where she ends up teaching first grade in Catholic school, falls in love with that whole process, ends up becoming a nun. And then lives out her entire life, in this whole thing. What was amazing to me is that you can make all kinds of decisions that seem box-checking, but for her that was not box-checking, that was living her truth. For other people, being a teacher may be box-checking. Do you see what I’m saying? So it’s not the superficial manifestation of what you do, it’s how you got to that decision. (37:55)

Posted in: Life

Editor's Note

These are Chamath Palihapitiya's words. They are probably some of the best thoughts on VC, business, and life, but were scattered around the Internet. They live now in this archive.