On taking advice and learning from people we admire

From my twitter:

I also would’ve benefited a great deal if I realized much much earlier that almost all people I admire the most (scientists & writers) are actually nothing like me and that trying to learn from their life paths is less than useless.

e.g. the reason this person is such a prolific and insightful blogger is because they sit around all day, read books, and think, instead of doing stuff. If, fundamentally, I want to be doing rather than thinking, learning from their life path will just lead me astray…

And because we want to be more like people we admire and tend to amplify our similarities and to overlook our differences – and we ourselves are not really sure what we want when we’re young! – it’s actually very difficult to avoid overweighting on their experiences.

I guess the most practical takeaway here is: try to figure out if the person you admire is Type A or Type B personality and if your type is different, avoid benchmarking your life against their life as their lived experience is just fundamentally different

Adam Strandberg also notes:

twitter infovores are stuck in OO loops whereas politicians + decision makers are stuck in DA loops. rare and difficult to get full + fast OODA

A related tweet:

Something I wish I understood when I was a teenager:

90% of adults are utterly unambitious. When they give you life advice, they will suggest things that satisfy their personal ambitions, not your ambitions. Be extra cautious around adults you like and respect (parents, profs…)

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@syndava:

Worse, they’ll often give advice that is intended to stop you from surpassing them - mentally, physically, career-wise. They feel threatened by what you have to offer & that your drive hasn’t been broken yet. Many wanna be personally responsible that it breaks.

e.g. the reason this person is such a prolific and insightful blogger is because they sit around all day, read books, and think, instead of doing stuff. If, fundamentally, I want to be doing rather than thinking, learning from their life path will just lead me astray…

yes!!!
paraphrasing Churchill - “every man must nail himself to a cross of either Thought or Action.” Having nailed myself to Action, I have had a great deal of fun looking for historical role models with a similar mode of mind.

I think this explicit understanding is especially important when looking at great scientists, for whom a primary motivation is sheer curiosity and enjoyment of the subject.

twitter infovores are stuck in OO loops whereas politicians + decision makers are stuck in DA loops.

regarding this and the example blogger - I think the following model is useful:

  1. understand that you are probably imitating someone, consciously or otherwise
  2. make sure it’s someone you want to resemble more closely in some specific aspect.

Nothing extremely profound here ofc but it works wonders in quenching the desire to (for example) write prolific and insightful blogs, rather than produce things that are worthy of being written about.

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On the other hand, consider how many books Churchill wrote…

Right haha. But with one exception not written about contemporaries