Paul Graham Quotes

If you have two choices, choose the harder. If you're trying to decide whether to go out running or sit home and watch TV, go running. Probably the reason this trick works so well is that when you have two choices and one is harder, the only reason you're even considering the other is laziness. You know in the back of your mind what's the right thing to do, and this trick merely forces you to acknowledge it.

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If you think something's supposed to hurt, you're less likely to notice if you're doing it wrong.

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Prestige is just fossilized inspiration. If you do anything well enough, you'll make it prestigious.

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If you want to please people who are mistaken, you can't simply tell the truth. You're always going to have to add some sort of padding to protect their misconceptions from bumping against reality.

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In most domains, talent is overrated compared to determination — partly because it makes a better story, partly because it gives onlookers an excuse for being lazy, and partly because after a while determination starts to look like talent.

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An organization that wins by exercising power starts to lose the ability to win by doing better work. And it's not fun for a smart person to work in a place where the best ideas aren't the ones that win.

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Officially the purpose of schools is to teach kids. In fact their primary purpose is to keep kids locked up in one place for a big chunk of the day so adults can get things done.

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You only get one life. You might as well spend it working on something great.

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Training yourself to think unthinkable thoughts has advantages beyond the thoughts themselves. It's like stretching. When you stretch before running, you put your body into positions much more extreme than any it will assume during the run. If you can think things so outside the box that they'd make people's hair stand on end, you'll have no trouble with the small trips outside the box that people call innovative.

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If a statement is false, that's the worst thing you can say about it. You don't need to say that it's heretical. And if it isn't false, it shouldn't be suppressed. So when you see statements being attacked as x-ist or y-ic (substitute your current values of x and y), whether in 1630 or 2030, that's a sure sign that something is wrong. When you hear such labels being used, ask why.

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Someone graduating from college thinks, and is told, that he needs to get a job, as if the important thing were becoming a member of an institution. A more direct way to put it would be: you need to start doing something people want. You don't need to join a company to do that. All a company is is a group of people working together to do something people want. It's doing something people want that matters, not joining the group.

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Good design resembles nature.

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There are few things worse than close supervision by someone who doesn't understand what you're doing.

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Mistakes are natural. Instead of treating them as disasters, make them easy to acknowledge and easy to fix.

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There's nothing more valuable than an unmet need that is just becoming fixable. If you find something broken that you can fix for a lot of people, you've found a gold mine. As with an actual gold mine, you still have to work hard to get the gold out of it. But at least you know where the seam is, and that's the hard part.

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There's an imbalance between encouragement and discouragement like that between gaining and losing money. Most people overvalue negative amounts of money: they'll work much harder to avoid losing a dollar than to gain one. Similarly, though there are plenty of people strong enough to resist doing something just because that's what one is supposed to do where they happen to be, there are few strong enough to keep working on something no one around them cares about.

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The most dangerous way to lose time is not to spend it having fun, but to spend it doing fake work.

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Everyday words are inherently imprecise. They work well enough in everyday life that you don't notice. Words seem to work, just as Newtonian physics seems to. But you can always make them break if you push them far enough.

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Ignore complaints from people who habitually complain. If a problem is real, you'll hear about it from people who don't.

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Reading and experience train your model of the world. And even if you forget the experience or what you read, its effect on your model of the world persists.

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It seems to me that beliefs about the future are so rarely correct that they usually aren't worth the extra rigidity they impose, and that the best strategy is simply to be aggressively open-minded. Instead of trying to point yourself in the right direction, admit you have no idea what the right direction is, and try instead to be super sensitive to the winds of change.

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If something that seems like work to other people doesn't seem like work to you, that's something you're well suited for.

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