Raising People’s Ambitions

I am very interested in the notion, outlined by Tyler Cowen, of finding small but impactful ways to raise the ambitions of the people around you.

At critical moments in time, you can raise the aspirations of other people significantly, especially when they are relatively young, simply by suggesting they do something better or more ambitious than what they might have in mind.  It costs you relatively little to do this, but the benefit to them, and to the broader world, may be enormous.

Tyler Cowen, Blog

I think this is one of the highest leverage means for an individual to have a profound impact on the world: find ways to help people become the best versions of themselves.

This is actually very very difficult thing to do well. It is a fine balance between pushing your own world view onto another person and helping another think for themselves. It is a harmony of inspiration and freedom. Motivation and pragmatism. A nuanced balance to get right.

Here at college, I think about this question often. Universities attract thousands and thousands of bright minds, but what do they do with them? Do they send them down the rat race? Funnel them to convenient corporations who have misaligned incentives?

I think one of the highest leverage things we can do as a society is “unleash independent thinking.”

Also published on Medium.