Great post, Jeff. I know what it is to be obsessed with work. I worked until 3AM and was up at 7 to get back to art school. I was eighteen, nineteen.
Ten years later, I worked until midnight, went to New York clubs that only opened at 1AM, and danced until 6AM. At ten I was at my desk making artwork. I’m still obsessed, just a bit older and better informed, so I get seven hours of sleep, exercise and eat right, and don’t feel guilty for jumping on to Medium or Twitter for awhile. But when I was twenty, my competition was forty, forty-five. I had forever to catch up. The reality, also, is that one cannot rush mastery. Mastery takes decades. No matter how talented one might be. But Silicon Valley and other tech hubs are filled with young people who leave me in awe. They are not my competition. They are so much smarter and more mature than I was at twenty-eight, or thirty three.
Although your story about a kid working 162 straight hours is a shocker, I think it’s an aberration. The young people changing the world will sleep when they get tired enough even if it means tossing the code.