A Room for Growing?

Having lived in Silicon Valley for at least 6 months changed my mind in a positive way. In Indonesia, no matter how curious you are and how interesting you are, there is a limit to that. There are things that you can dream of, like building a startup, be a valedictorian, and travel the world. And there are things that you can’t afford to dream of, like building self-driving car, traveling to mars, and other crazy stuffs. But in Silicon Valley, people keep pushing harder and further, constantly removing the limit. This realization come after I read an article on The Wall Street Journal (which I subscribed for more than a year for a decent price, but I rarely read) about someone who attempted to learn an impossible task every month, such as memorizing the order 52 decks of card in under 2 minutes, solving a rubik’s cube in under 20 seconds, and the most impossible one, defeating the World Chess Champion, Magnus Carlsen. Wow.

Given only a month time, he attempted to defeat Magnus. This is outright crazy since Magnus has been playing Chess for most of his life and is currently the number one in the world. Being expert in the game requires tens of thousands of experience and learning. However crazy, the most interesting part is that Max dares to do it. The habit of challenging yourself is so prevalent in Silicon Valley, that it is encouraged everywhere. Max tries to challenge the perception that it takes a long time to master something, he developed techniques to learn anything more efficiently. The keyword is: efficient. Being efficient is achieving something with as little resources as possible. He only do high-leverage things (the term I borrow from The Effective Engineer book), things that contributes greatly to the end goal. So provided that you are being efficient in your effort, you can certainly achieve a seemingly impossible task in a short time.

The article mentioned Max’s friend Cliff Weitzman, a Brown University student I met at Stanford’s ASES Summit last year. He was featured on Forbes’ 30 under 30 list while he was working on a text-to-speech app for dyslexics. He’s inspiring that you can  be a productive person, no matter what conditions do you have. If you have dyslexics, then build something to help you, as he actually did. In recent months, I started making excuses for not achieving much, while I could turn out better if I started building solutions instead.

Excuses, blames, and negative things has filled my life that I start to clear them up. I try to wake up earlier (which often fails spectacularly) and exercise. I start reading books again (a product management book titled Inspired, by Marty Cagan) after almost a year of not trying. I started reconnecting with my old friends. I try to manage my time well by not spending too much with social media. I decorate my room to look better and feel comfortable. I also listen to motivational speeches online (hey I know it looks embarrassing but it works!). Why let a bad mood crawl into your head and make your day miserable, if you can listen to a 5 minute speech and comes out freshly energized? I now believe that I can be productive, other people can achieve way more, why can’t I?