When you don’t know any better

The benefits of naiveté


When I didn’t know any better, I believed:

  1. That if I wanted to, I could become the President of the United States.
  2. That if I worked hard enough at it, I could found the next Facebook.
  3. That if I tried, I could change the world.
  4. Fix education.
  5. Revolutionize healthcare.
  6. Become a rock star.

I read this on the train the other day:

The ultimate target is Microsoft. What a bang that balloon is going to make when someone pops it by offering a free web-based alternative to MS Office. Who will? Google? They seem to be taking their time. I suspect the pin will be wielded by a couple of 20 year old hackers who are too naive to be intimidated by the idea. (How hard can it be?)
—Paul Graham in 2005, in his essay on Web 2.0 (emphasis mine)

When you didn’t know any better, did you believe you could fly?

Now I know better. I know how hard it is. I know there are centuries-old cultural, political, economic obstacles obstructing my path to the Presidency. I know Facebook is a unicorn. I know education is broken, and people way smarter than I am are trying to fix it.


But what did you think you were capable of before you knew any better?

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