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  1. #61

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    I wanted to bump this thread to ask some further questions about "failure."

    I was just thinking last night, that some of the "smartest" most successful people I know were the ones dropped out of high-school or college at some point. (Not that I am encouraging people to do that)

    I know people say that the reason people who "succeed" the most are also the ones who "fail" the most is because they try a lot of things.

    But I think it goes deeper than that. I've been trying a lot of things for quite some time, but somehow, I haven't found my "passion," or "calling" or whatever. I have some ideas, but they're just that--ideas.

    Imagine if Newton were a marginally "successful" farmer, would he have written The Principia?

    Imagine if Darwin were good at anything at all that his father wanted, would he have documented his theory in such detail?

    What if Bill Gates or Steve Jobs hadn't dropped out of college? What if the Google guys were still in their Ph.D. program instead of starting Google?

    Were these people struck by their "calling" or in the grips of their "passion" before dropping whatever their socially expected "success" was to pursue it?

    Or was it simply an "idea," an inkling, that this may be what they would love to do?

    Accept the past. Live for the present. Look forward to the future.
    Robot Fusion
    "As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance." John Wheeler
    "[A] scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy." Richard Feynman
    "[P]etabytes of [] data is not the same thing as understanding emergent mechanisms and structures." Jim Crutchfield

  2. #62
    Senior Member ptgatsby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ygolo View Post
    I was just thinking last night, that some of the "smartest" most successful people I know were the ones dropped out of high-school or college at some point. (Not that I am encouraging people to do that)
    For each success we hear, we probably can find 99 who did that and never got anywhere. And not all for a lack of talent either!

    I know people say that the reason people who "succeed" the most are also the ones who "fail" the most is because they try a lot of things.
    I think it depends on the metric of success, but I'm not sure that "try lots = success". I think the opposite is true, however, "don't try lots <> success". So, for every person who tries lots of things, some are going to succeed, and we hear about them.

    But I think it goes deeper than that. I've been trying a lot of things for quite some time, but somehow, I haven't found my "passion," or "calling" or whatever. I have some ideas, but they're just that--ideas.
    They aren't just ideas. Those are the things you need to try! If you don't like them, then you move to the next. That's exactly what it is all about. The pursuit of those kinds of concepts need to be your passion. Success if what happens when all the factors line up, and your best chance is to do.

    But beware, are those ideas of things you enjoy? Or is it ideas for success? If you only do for success, then you are trying to "game the system", and end up doing exactly what you don't enjoy just to be successful. You need to start with the passions, then find success in them. Or rather, your best odds are to find something you can do, and will do, over an over.

    What if Bill Gates or Steve Jobs hadn't dropped out of college? What if the Google guys were still in their Ph.D. program instead of starting Google?
    Then something/someone else would of replaced them. Someone would of produced the goods. Would it be the same as now? Certainly not but we are actors in the big picture. They just had an idea and tried it, and it worked. The point is that each person pursuing what they do will find their niche. Some will be successful, and we'll note them, but everyone is happier when they pursue what they want.

    Of course, I say this, but I realise that money for food is important too!

    Were these people struck by their "calling" or in the grips of their "passion" before dropping whatever their socially expected "success" was to pursue it?
    That's the question... how do we find it? What is it? I wish I could answer that question, for myself or others.

    What I do know is that emotional stability really hides it. My projects die when I get down, and feel trapped. I think we share that issue.

  3. #63

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    Quote Originally Posted by ptgatsby View Post
    For each success we hear, we probably can find 99 who did that and never got anywhere. And not all for a lack of talent either!
    It's not an all-or-nothing thing. Just because we don't hear about them doesn't mean they weren't successful. Many are great "lifestyle entrepreneurs."

    Granted, my sample is skewed, but every single person who decided to strike out on their own. that I know IRL, is making enough money to support themselves and do what they want.

    Quote Originally Posted by ptgatsby View Post
    I think it depends on the metric of success, but I'm not sure that "try lots = success". I think the opposite is true, however, "don't try lots <> success". So, for every person who tries lots of things, some are going to succeed, and we hear about them.
    Well, I guess the definition of "success" is central here. Ultimately, for me, it is about freedom. If you are free to do what you want within the confines of a job or business, then I would call it success. If you have enough money that you don't have to work to support doing what you want to do, then I would call it success also.

    Quote Originally Posted by ptgatsby View Post
    They aren't just ideas. Those are the things you need to try! If you don't like them, then you move to the next. That's exactly what it is all about. The pursuit of those kinds of concepts need to be your passion. Success if what happens when all the factors line up, and your best chance is to do.

    But beware, are those ideas of things you enjoy? Or is it ideas for success? If you only do for success, then you are trying to "game the system", and end up doing exactly what you don't enjoy just to be successful. You need to start with the passions, then find success in them. Or rather, your best odds are to find something you can do, and will do, over an over.
    I've tried ideas of both kinds. I am "in the ballpark" when it comes to being an engineer. I've tried software, digital hardware, and am trying out more analog circuits now. They are all interesting, and what I do in the future will be supported by what I've done. But what I am missing here is "impact." I want to do something that moves humanity forward in some great leap. Maybe I will just be some small part, but I want to closer to the work that makes the impact. Not just filling in the details of what other people have done.

    I guess, I would like to move more into Research & Development rather than Development & Design--though Design is fun.

    In a way, if there was a position that allowed Research & Development & Design & Production, that would be the best thing for me. I want really broad creative control over the technology.

    Quote Originally Posted by ptgatsby View Post
    Then something/someone else would of replaced them. Someone would of produced the goods. Would it be the same as now? Certainly not but we are actors in the big picture. They just had an idea and tried it, and it worked. The point is that each person pursuing what they do will find their niche. Some will be successful, and we'll note them, but everyone is happier when they pursue what they want.
    The trick is knowing what we want.

    On the other point (a bit of a tangent)...
    I guess it depends on perspective. I'm not sure someone would have replaced the figures I mentioned. This is most definitely a hypothetical question, since the people who did these things were the people who did these things.

    I certainly don't want to give them more credit than they are due, since they were all making extensive use of the work of others in their circles, relied on connections they had, the unique opportunities afforded to them, and plenty of other people in the area giving them support.

    With out Darwin's wealth there would have been no Darwin as we know him. Without Lorentz, there would have been no Einstein as we know him, without the policy of audit at his college, Steve Jobs would have had a different future, ...

    However, I think economists and others studying aggregate human behavior are realizing that it is the "Black Swans" that really matter. It is the "outliers" and weird phenomenon that move markets and shape the future. That's what makes this sort of thing hard to predict.

    The formulas work only until someone "changes the game." Olympic predictions were vastly thrown off by China's effort to explicitly win medals, and the collapse of the Russian Olympic machine.

    In the end, we are still only modeling "chaotic" behavior "as if" it was "random." Chaos and randomness are different things, though they share some similarities on the surface.

    Quote Originally Posted by ptgatsby View Post
    That's the question... how do we find it? What is it? I wish I could answer that question, for myself or others.

    What I do know is that emotional stability really hides it. My projects die when I get down, and feel trapped. I think we share that issue.
    I wonder if a younger me could have answered this more succinctly.

    When I took my first job, it actually "felt wrong," in that I knew that it was not what I wanted to be doing. But, I figured it was a "good job," making use of the types of things I liked to study. I also thought it would give me "practical experience" in the "real world."

    A decade later, I have done a little job-hopping, finished some degrees, but still essentially in the same environment. The environment is comfortable, fairly safe (circuit designers are not easy to find), but soul numbing.

    Accept the past. Live for the present. Look forward to the future.
    Robot Fusion
    "As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance." John Wheeler
    "[A] scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy." Richard Feynman
    "[P]etabytes of [] data is not the same thing as understanding emergent mechanisms and structures." Jim Crutchfield

  4. #64
    pathwise dependent FDG's Avatar
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    Granted, my sample is skewed, but every single person who decided to strike out on their own. that I know IRL, is making enough money to support themselves and do what they want.
    Very often, this particular tendency tends to have a self-selection bias, in the sense that if somebody strongly feels like he can and want to strike out on his own and he is smart enough (and I suppose that was what you meant by saying that your distribution is skewed), then he is more likely to do it because it is what he wants.

    I don't know if my analogy is correct, but I see a similar mechanism at work when I am working from home choosing myself which projects to do vs working in an office needing to wait for people to tell me what to do: in the former case I can work 10 hours straight and not even feel like it is a "bad" (in standard economic theory, work is defined as a "bad" and leisure as a "good"); at the office, 1 hour of working is enough to demotivate me.
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  5. #65
    ish red no longer *sad* nightning's Avatar
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    Going to throw in a second point that it's easier to remember the sensational compared to the ordinary. People who strike out and succeed has the wow factor that make it easier for us to recall. I'm fairly certain an equally large if not larger portion of people who stick with a conventional occupation does just as well.

  6. #66
    Senior Member Tayshaun's Avatar
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    What gives meaning to your life?

    What type of accomplishment makes you proud?

    What do you need in order to feel balanced?

    The answer to your question will follow.

  7. #67
    Alexander the Terrible yenom's Avatar
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    I've tried ideas of both kinds. I am "in the ballpark" when it comes to being an engineer. I've tried software, digital hardware, and am trying out more analog circuits now. They are all interesting, and what I do in the future will be supported by what I've done. But what I am missing here is "impact." I want to do something that moves humanity forward in some great leap. Maybe I will just be some small part, but I want to closer to the work that makes the impact. Not just filling in the details of what other people have done.
    What trechnology trends do you see in the coming furture?
    The fear of poverty turns people into slaves of money.

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  8. #68
    4x9 cascadeco's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grayscale View Post
    do you think it is better to follow ambitions which lead to success (by society's definition) and to do what "makes sense", or to follow your passions regardless of the disadvantages your lifestyle may suffer?
    How do you define 'better'? In some ways it's 'better' to lead a successful life by society's definition and maintain a steady job with stable income. Many of your tangible needs are met in that way - food, shelter, paying bills, etc - nothing to worry about, per se. Survival is ensured, and you have your comforts.

    But that kinda leaves out the intangibles - are you intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually satisfied? (I use the word 'spiritual' loosely, as I don't think it has to imply a belief in a God.) Without those other levels of satisfaction being met, it could be a pretty lackluster life. Just going through the motions, but for what end?

    Now I think there's a certain amount of internal adjustment to your expectations/needs/perceptions that can be done to make the former scenario more palatable, and to be able to achieve a level of contentment and happiness with it. Much of it can be your attitude about it, and choosing how to look at things.

    For me, it's something that doesn't last indefinitely though. Ultimately I become restless and need something new, and I still would like to find a way to follow my passions. I still need to do more thinking on all of that though.

    I'd like to have success in something I'm passionate about. I have a friend who is very much following that path, and is becoming successful in something she loves, and I envy that. It's like an extension of herself, and her very identity. Basically she's being paid for, and is getting professional recognition for, what she cares about and who she is. I envy that she's defined that thing she's passionate enough about to just go for. Because I've never had any one thing that's 'spoken' to me in that way. I have many things that I see as possibilities, but can't pinpoint anything yet (OR have fear at the lifestyle I would have, or sacrifices I'd have to make, if I chose to follow my passions). I also recognize that nothing's ever gonna be perfect, and there will always be not-so-great aspects of everything, so that recognition might also stop me from doing anything before I even start.

    To be continued.
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  9. #69

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tayshaun View Post
    What gives meaning to your life?

    What type of accomplishment makes you proud?

    What do you need in order to feel balanced?

    The answer to your question will follow.
    A career alone can't do all this. I've somewhat decided that I have always been motivated by technology and science that moved society forward in great leaps. That's why I initially went into Computer/Electrical Engineering.

    But, I am not really in Research, and I've discovered that's where I want to be. I have also discovered that many people in research in EE are also disgruntled because of the pipeline style in research and development where the vast majority of research ends up in the "Valley of Death" and not utilized in development.

    That leaves two options for me:
    1) Extremely fundamental research in feild like physics, where real discoveries are hard, but fundamental enough that new phenomenon are available to human-kind.
    2) EE research, development, design, production all together in my own enterprise

    Quote Originally Posted by untypable View Post
    What trechnology trends do you see in the coming furture?
    I'm not sure. There are a lot of trends. Nanotech is growing fast, but mainly in material-science. Biotech is also growing, the main comercial applications in "brewing" energy sources. Robotics, AI and Cognitive Science seem destined to converge somehow with the ability to "read minds" and do their bidding.

    Accept the past. Live for the present. Look forward to the future.
    Robot Fusion
    "As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance." John Wheeler
    "[A] scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy." Richard Feynman
    "[P]etabytes of [] data is not the same thing as understanding emergent mechanisms and structures." Jim Crutchfield

  10. #70
    Alexander the Terrible yenom's Avatar
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    Well, generally, innovators can forsee a trend in the furture and wish to speed up the process. Therefore they develop an innovation to shorten the gap between now and the future. Energy and material science is going to be a major thing between now and the future. Light weight materials, energy storage, enerfgy transfer etc....but these things require tremendous amount of capital and knowledge.

    the economy itself is far freom efficient. If you can see ways to increase economic ouput or develop new resources that can help mankind go further, the potential will be limitless.
    The fear of poverty turns people into slaves of money.

    "In this Caesar there are many Mariuses"~Sulla

    Conquer your inner demons first before you conquer the world.

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