Raising the Bar

What I hope to describe today is an empowered mindset. I find that, especially here on a college campus, our ambition is grounded to our closest peers and competition. Our definition of “great” reaches a local maxima as soon as we stop looking for something better. I care a lot about this “problem of sorts” because I believe there is greatly untapped human potential lying dormant across the globe.

This is not to say people are not trying, working hard, hustling, etc. This problem is very complicated. I try to digest it by pairing it down into two halves: the first half is the “motivation side,” the second half is the “resources side.”

Broadly put, and as I have written about time and time again, there are roughly two phases to getting what you want in life. The first phase is figuring out what you want, the second phase is going to go get it. This is very very simple. But this type of framework, I believe, fragments the situation into two very different problems. The first is one of motivation, empowerment, and agency. The second tackles some of that, but is more around equal opportunity and accessibility.

I hope for a future where anyone who wants to do x will be given the resources and mentorship needed to do that thing. I do not want luck or other external factors (racism, sexism, etc.) to get in the way of any motivated individual. I want meritocracies to win out. I want people who are artists to be able to create art. I want engineers to be able to build. And I want theorists to be able to theorize. Less friction -> more doing.

At the same time, I think a lot about the motivation piece. How do we go from people seeking manufacturing jobs in their lives (things to fill the void and check the boxes) to things that actualize their human potential?

Is work more than work? Can work be life? Can your life be work? Is this a functionally better outcome for society?

I want to understand how we raise the bar, particularly on the motivation front, in figuring out how we help people actualize their grandest ambitions and go from zero to 1 versus zero to 0.1.

I want people to anchor their dreams in magical places, not in say a powerpoint deck in a fancy corporate office.

I hesitate to make the claim that magical places are better than the elaborate investment banking job (or working at Google etc.) because I recognize I come from a place of bias.

Selfishly, I want people to work on things they actually like. I am not one to say whether or not they like something..I just find it hard to believe we have groves and groves of highly talented intelligent people who dream and think about investment modeling in the shower. Surely that is not possible. Surely there are religious cultural factors at play here.

I close this rant in the following way: people should do whatever they want in life. I want to help people actualize what they want. But first…before we provide resources…how do we understand what people actually want?

The answers may be surprising. I think colleges are completely missing this.

Also published on Medium.