Uncommon Truths Leading To Success: Maximizing These Benefits of Christianity in Your Life
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Clarke predicted imminent commercial space travel, interstellar exploration, and genuine artificial intelligences. It shook the entire world. To echo the point, Thiel likes to quote a best-selling book called The American Challenge. The book predicted that America would be a post-industrial society by the year Americans would work four days per week and seven hours per day. The year would be comprised of 39 work weeks and 13 weeks of vacation. Unfortunately, this dream never arrived.
Transportation machines soared higher and faster for years. In the span of a single lifetime, people went from traveling by horse and buggy to walking on the moon.
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Depending on who you ask, it seemed like humanity was guided by the invisible hand or an all-powerful God. Interstellar travel and vacations on the moon were the future, and everybody knew it. In an unexpected twist, the physics stagnated. Transportation stopped improving. First the astronauts. Then, the people. Customers wanted to reserve seats on the first trips to the moon.
Between and , Pan Am accepted 93, reservations for planned commercial flights to the moon. Fast forward five decades and only 12 men have ever walked on the moon.
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No American, let alone any ordinary human being, has stepped foot on the moon since The rate of technological progress is slowing. The only major exceptions are semiconductors, DNA sequencing, and communications technology. Side effects of slow growth plague the economy. Meanwhile, the costs of housing, healthcare, and education are rising faster than inflation.
The Golden Gate Bridge was built in less than four years in the s. The recently completed Golden Gate Bridge access road, Doyle Drive, took seven years to build and cost more in real dollars than the original bridge.
Buildings, too. The Empire State Building was built in 15 months from America is not as dynamic as it once was. We see it in the statistics and feel it in our politics. Follow the money. Warren Buffett, the richest investor in America bets against change. The less the world changes, the more Buffett succeeds. From a distance, we see a mirage of progress. From up-close, once we remove the smartphone screens in front of us, we feel the reality of struggle and stagnation. The interconnected nature of the world makes nightmare scenarios—pandemics, global economic collapse, climate-change disaster, cyberattacks, terrorism—all seem like genuine possibilities, even probabilities… Today hope has narrowed to the vanishing point of the self alone.
In our current phase of American history we have lost belief in God and salvation, or in any shared sense of national greatness and destiny. This intuition is supported by data. Millennials are less well off than members of earlier generations were when they were young. They have lower earnings, fewer assets, and less wealth. Wages tell a similar story.
With the rise of dystopian films, Hollywood creates and reflects these dark predictions about the future. Unable to pay for college or afford an apartment in a job-filled city, many Millennials have lost hope. Besides immigrants and their children, both of whom inspire me with their ambition and passionate work ethic, I see fear, complacency, and extreme risk-aversion everywhere. The most talented people follow the same narrow tracks.
People are afraid to dream big or stand out.
Without a positive vision for their future, these young Americans are stuck playing vicious, zero-sum status games. Instead of constructing our own desires, they mirror the goals of people around them. Make sure that the things you're pursuing are weird things that you want to pursue, not whatever the standard path is. Heuristic: do your friends at school think your path is a bit strange? If not, maybe it's too normal. As Thiel observed:. The top colleges have become vocational schools for investment banking and management consulting. In , for example, half of Harvard seniors took jobs in finance or consulting.
This mirrors my own experience. My college jobs department steered us towards high-status jobs instead of high-impact ones. Students, professors, and advisors cared more about perception than reality. Instead, my smartest friends were pushed towards a handful of fields: law, management consulting, and investment banking.
Other options were peripheral and besides the point.
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Young Americans are trapped by student loans, crippled by path dependence, and constrained by runaway housing costs. I recently had dinner with a fraternity brother in Manhattan. Right after the bacon cheeseburgers arrived and just as we splattered ketchup on our crispy French Fries, I asked him how he liked his job. First, he paused for time.
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Immediately, I smirked and questioned his answer. It reeked like Orwellian doublespeak. I poked and poked. And after 10 minutes, we reached the truth.
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He explained how the school system taught him to follow rules, mimic his peers, and listen to teachers. Pledge first. Succeed later. His dream-filled heart is crushed by the cold logic of investment banking. Sparkling dreams have become minor annoyances, like a buzzing fly in a lakeside cabin. Student loans keep him stuck on the institutional treadmill. As I listened, I wondered what would happen if a high-voltage defibrillator shocked him and he woke up from his intellectual slumber.
In an essay called The Trouble with Optionality , Harvard professor Mihir Desai worries that the language of finance has polluted life. He condemns the modern, finance-fueled affair with optionality. Rather than taking risks or working on important projects, students acquire options. The more optionality, the better. Some students talk about marriage as the death of optionality.
But life is not like options trading. Optionality is a means to an end, not the end itself. Our obsession with optionality can backfire. In theory, these safety nets give them freedom. Bolstered by the confidence of security, they can jump head-first into ambitious projects.
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In practice, they become habitual acquirers of safety nets and never work on anything of substance. The longer they spend acquiring options, the harder it is to stop. If your dreams are apparent to you, pursue them. Creating optionality and buying lottery tickets are not weigh stations on the road to pursuing your dreamy outcomes.
They are dangerous diversions that will change you. When we pursue optionality, we avoid bold decisions. Like anything meaningful, venturing into the unknown is an act of faith. It demands responsibility. But a life without conviction is a life controlled by the futile winds of fashion. Or worse, the hollow echoes of the crowd. By brainwashing us into thinking that prosperity is inevitable, privilege can have a numbing effect. Nobody believes in destiny. Social events revolve around binge drinking and conversations so superficial a robot could automate them.
Rather than rising to the level of their dreams, they fall to the average of their environment. Office hours were an afterthought. We lack courage, not genius. As Peter Thiel reminds us:.