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Follow Curiosity

๐ŸŒˆ Abstract

The article discusses the importance of following one's curiosity as a guide to doing great work, rather than being driven by factors like prestige, money, or trying to do something that sounds cool. It highlights how people often drift away from their curiosity and start pursuing ambition or money, which can lead to a decline in the quality of their work. The article advocates for a bottom-up approach of following one's curiosity, rather than a top-down approach of trying to plan everything out using spreadsheets and criteria. It explains how following one's curiosity engages the right brain, which is better connected to the whole and can steer one in the right direction, providing the necessary energy and excitement for the journey.

๐Ÿ™‹ Q&A

[01] Follow Curiosity

1. What is the essence of Paul Graham's 12,000-word essay on how to do great work? The essence of Paul Graham's essay is a small paragraph near the end, which states that "Curiosity is the best guide. Your curiosity never lies, and it knows more than you do about what's worth paying attention to."

2. What are the alternatives to following one's curiosity, and why do they typically not end well? The alternatives to following curiosity include following prestige, money, or other mimetic forces. These typically don't end well because people find success by following their curiosity, but then start drifting away from that towards ambition, money, or doing something that sounds cool, which causes things to start going downhill.

3. How did David Perell's experience illustrate the importance of following one's curiosity? David Perell described how he ended up in a writing slump when he shifted his focus away from just following interesting ideas and trying to figure them out, towards an approach based on being a "creative force" and doing something that sounded cool. Once he recognized this and went back to just following his curiosity, the slump instantly disappeared and he started producing great work again.

4. What is the problem with using elaborate spreadsheet-based systems to decide what business idea to pursue? The problem with using elaborate spreadsheet-based systems is that you will always be second-guessing yourself since you know deep down that all your ratings are completely made up. You will most likely never start executing or stick to it, since no idea seems perfect if you look at it this way, and you will waste a lot of time researching instead of executing.

5. Why does a bottom-up approach of following one's curiosity work better than a top-down, masterplanning approach? A bottom-up approach of following one's curiosity works better because it engages the right brain, which is better connected to the whole and can pattern match without needing fully verbalized trains of thought. This allows it to steer you in the right direction in a way that doesn't rely on the left brain's tendency to be out of touch with reality.

6. How does following one's curiosity provide the necessary fuel and energy for the journey? Following one's curiosity is incredibly energizing, as it engages the right brain and provides a sense of excitement and a natural desire to share and market the work. In contrast, working on an idea born out of a spreadsheet or left-brain narrative will feel low in energy and lead to getting stuck.

7. Why can it be difficult to write about the benefits of following one's curiosity without sounding "woo woo"? It can be difficult to write about these ideas without sounding "woo woo" because the right brain's ability to grasp the whole forest, rather than just the trees, can make it feel like the universe is conspiring to help you. However, the article explains that this is not some mystical force, but rather the right brain's superior ability to steer you in the right direction, which is then experienced as excitement and a sense of being on the right track.

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