This is a point by point brief of Paul Graham’s Greak Work essay. It is the best of his yet, but it is also too long. I’m going to revisit it multiple times so I made this summary, using ChatGPT. This is not a substitute for the original article. This is just to read once every month so I stay on course.

Techniques for Doing Great Work

  1. Introduction
    • The goal is to create a guide for doing great work in any field.
    • Curiosity about the shape of the intersection of techniques.
  2. Definite Shape
    • The intersection of techniques has a definite shape.
    • It is not simply labeled “work hard.”
  3. Recipe for Ambitious Individuals
    • Assumes the reader is very ambitious.
    • Provides a recipe for doing great work.

Steps to Doing Great Work

  1. Choosing the Right Work
    • Work should possess three qualities: natural aptitude, deep interest, and potential for greatness.
    • Importance of focusing on developing interests rather than worrying about their importance.
  2. Figuring Out What to Work On
    • Figuring out what to work on is a process of trial and error.
    • Guessing and getting started is better than not taking any action.
    • Exploring multiple fields can lead to unexpected connections and discoveries.
  3. Working on Personal Projects
    • Develop a habit of working on your own projects.
    • Great work often stems from personal projects.
    • Excitingly ambitious projects should be pursued.
  4. Following Curiosity
    • Excessive curiosity is the driving force behind great work.
    • Identify what you are excessively curious about.
    • Learn enough to reach the frontiers of knowledge.
  5. Noticing Gaps and Asking Questions
    • Notice gaps in knowledge and ask questions.
    • Many discoveries come from questioning commonly accepted ideas.
    • Embrace strangeness and pursue outlier ideas.
  6. Hard Work and Motivation
    • Hard work is essential for achieving great things.
    • Deep interest and curiosity drive motivation.
    • The desire to do something impressive can also be a powerful motivator.
  7. Discovering New Frontiers
    • The ultimate goal is to discover new areas of knowledge.
    • Finding cracks in existing knowledge can lead to new worlds of discovery.

The Challenge of Figuring Out What to Work On

  1. Overlapping Steps
    • Figuring out what to work on is difficult because you can’t fully understand most types of work without doing them.
    • The four steps of choosing, working, learning, and deciding overlap.
  2. Nature of Ambition
    • Ambition can complicate the decision-making process.
    • Two forms of ambition: preceding interest and growing out of it.
  3. Educational System Limitations
    • Educational systems often expect early commitment to a field without providing sufficient guidance.
    • The system assumes teenagers will magically guess what to work on.
  4. Taking Action and Embracing Curiosity
    • Passively drifting along is not a solution.
    • Be proactive, curious, and open to trying new things.
    • Optimize for interestingness and explore different fields.
  5. Embrace Unconventional Interests
    • Unusual interests can be strong and productive.
    • Don’t worry about being different from others.
  6. Switching and Making Something Desired
    • Don’t hesitate to switch focus if you discover something more exciting.
    • Make something you personally want or need.
    • Initial audience can be found among like-minded individuals.
  7. Avoiding External Influences
    • Beware of forces that can lead you astray, such as pretentiousness, fashion, fear, money, politics, and others’ wishes.
    • Stick to what genuinely interests you to stay on the right path.

Strategy for Doing Great Work

  1. Following Interests and Taking Risks
    • Following interests requires boldness and overcoming obstacles.
    • Risk of rejection and failure is involved.
  2. Work Hard on Excitingly Ambitious Projects
    • The recipe for doing great work is to work hard on ambitious projects.
    • Good outcomes often result from this approach.
  3. Preserving Invariants Instead of Planning
    • Planning is limited to achievements that can be described in advance.
    • Instead, focus on preserving certain invariants throughout the process.
  4. Avoid Overplanning and Stay Upwind
    • For most people, excessive planning is not necessary.
    • Choose the most interesting and promising options at each stage.
    • Approach known as “staying upwind” is commonly used by those who have achieved great work.

Techniques for Effective Work

  1. Working Technique
    • Working on exciting projects is not always straightforward.
    • There are headwinds, currents, and challenges to navigate.
  2. Avoiding Overwork
    • Working too hard can lead to diminishing returns and negative effects on health.
    • Find the optimal amount of work for each type of task.
  3. Arranging Contiguous Blocks of Time
    • Arrange your schedule to have uninterrupted blocks of time for work.
    • Interruptions can hinder productivity and make it harder to tackle difficult tasks.
  4. Tricking Yourself to Start
    • Starting work can be more challenging than continuing.
    • Use tricks or lies to overcome the initial threshold and get started.
    • For example, telling yourself you’ll just review what you’ve done so far can lead to productive work.
  5. Optimism and Ignorance
    • The young often have an advantage due to their optimism and ignorance.
    • Ignorance can sometimes be beneficial in taking on new projects.
  6. Finishing Projects
    • Strive to finish what you start, even if it requires more work than expected.
    • The final stages of a project often yield the best work.
  7. Exaggerating Importance
    • Exaggerating the importance of your work can help you discover something new.
    • It may not be a lie if it leads to valuable insights.

Overcoming Procrastination

  1. Two Forms of Procrastination
    • Per-day procrastination (within a day) and per-project procrastination (over a longer period).
    • Per-project procrastination is more dangerous and can lead to significant delays.
  2. Camouflaged Procrastination
    • Per-project procrastination often disguises itself as work on other tasks.
    • It can go unnoticed as you appear busy with other activities.
  3. Beating Per-Project Procrastination
    • Regularly pause and ask yourself if you are working on what you truly want to work on.
    • It becomes increasingly risky to procrastinate as you get older.
  4. Challenges of Doing What You Want
    • Getting paid for doing exactly what you want is often difficult, especially in the early stages.
    • Two options: getting paid for work close to what you want and pushing it closer, or getting paid for something else and pursuing personal projects on the side.
    • Both approaches have drawbacks and require careful navigation.

The Power of Consistency and Exponential Growth

  1. Engaging Work and Cumulative Effect
    • Great work requires spending an unreasonable amount of time on a problem.
    • Finding the work engaging as it happens is crucial.
    • Consistently focusing on something you’re genuinely interested in leads to surprising progress.
  2. Underestimating Cumulative Effect
    • We underestimate the cumulative effect of work.
    • Consistency is key, even if progress seems small on a daily basis.
    • Doing something rather than nothing leads to exponential growth.
  3. Unconscious Application of Exponential Growth
    • Many people unconsciously apply exponential growth in their endeavors.
    • Learning becomes easier as knowledge accumulates.
    • Growing an audience becomes easier as existing fans attract new ones.
  4. Underrating Exponential Growth in Early Stages
    • Exponential growth may feel flat in the beginning, leading to underrating its potential.
    • Extraordinary effort may be required to start exponential growth.
  5. Investing in Exponential Growth
    • Many people unconsciously invest in exponential growth.
    • If people consciously realized the potential of exponential growth, more would pursue it.

The Power of Undirected Thinking

  1. Undirected Thinking for Problem Solving
    • Undirected thinking during activities like walking, showering, or lying in bed can be powerful for problem-solving.
    • Letting your mind wander can lead to solving previously unsolvable problems.
  2. Interleaving Deliberate Work and Daydreaming
    • Deliberate work that feeds questions should be interleaved with daydreaming.
    • Daydreaming alone without active work does not yield the same benefits.
  3. Avoiding Distractions
    • Avoid distractions both during focused work and during undirected thinking.
    • Distractions can shift your focus away from important work and hinder problem-solving.
  4. Maintaining Focus
    • When your mind wanders, it tends to focus on what you care about most at that moment.
    • Avoid distractions that push your work out of the top spot during undirected thinking.
    • Exception: Love can be a valuable focus during this type of thinking.

Cultivating Taste and Aiming for Greatness

  1. Cultivating Taste
    • Consciously develop your taste in the work done in your field.
    • Understanding the best work and what makes it exceptional is crucial.
  2. Aiming to Be the Best
    • Strive to be the best in your field, as aiming for anything less may result in mediocrity.
    • Ambition to be the best is different from ambition to be good.
  3. Economy of Scale
    • Trying to be the best often leads to a net gain rather than a burden.
    • It simplifies things and can be exciting and liberating.
  4. Creating Timeless Work
    • Aim to create something that people will care about even after a hundred years.
    • Work that stands the test of time is more likely to be genuinely good.

Authenticity and Identity in Work

  1. Distinctive Style
    • Don’t try to work in a distinctive style; focus on doing the best job you can.
    • Your work will naturally have a distinctive way of its own.
  2. Affectation and Fake Persona
    • Trying to adopt a distinctive style is affectation.
    • Affectation involves pretending to be someone other than yourself in your work.
    • It can result in an impressive but fake persona that shows in the work.
  3. Avoiding Unintentional Affectation
    • In fields like acting, where adopting a fake persona is the goal, unintentional affectation should be avoided.
  4. Authenticity and Identity
    • The temptation to be someone else is common among the young who may feel like nobodies.
    • Working on ambitious projects solves the problem of identity.
    • Success in ambitious projects establishes your identity as the person who achieved it.
    • Focus on doing the work, and your identity will naturally take care of itself.

The Power of Earnestness in Great Work

  1. Being Earnest
    • Being earnest is a positive expression of avoiding affectation.
    • It involves being intellectually honest and having a sharp eye for the truth.
  2. Intellectual Honesty
    • Intellectual honesty is crucial for seeing new ideas and truths.
    • Admitting mistakes and being willing to change one’s beliefs is essential.
  3. Informality and Focusing on What Matters
    • Informality is important in earnestness, focusing on what matters instead of unnecessary formalities.
    • Formality and affectation divert energy from doing good work.
  4. Preserving Innocent Boldness
    • Nerds, who preserve innocent boldness from childhood, have an advantage in doing great work.
    • Hold onto this quality and be the one who puts ideas out there.
  5. Optimism and Risk
    • Optimism is advantageous for doing great work, even if it means risking looking like a fool at times.
    • Taking the risk of sharing ideas is essential for discovering new things.
  6. The Necessity of Earnestness
    • Great work is difficult to achieve without earnestness.
    • Being affected, intellectually dishonest, orthodox, fashionable, or cool distorts the work.
  7. Curing Affectation and Intellectual Dishonesty
    • Affectation is easier to overcome than intellectual dishonesty.
    • Affectation often diminishes with time, while intellectual dishonesty is a deeper character flaw.

Consistency, Cutting, and Elegance in Great Work

  1. Consistency and Decision-Making
    • Great work is consistent with itself and the person who created it.
    • When facing a decision, choose the option that is more consistent with the work.
  2. Willingness to Redo and Cut
    • Be willing to throw away and redo parts of your work if necessary.
    • Overcome status quo bias and laziness by asking if you would revert to the current state if the change had already been made.
  3. Confidence to Cut and Strip to Essence
    • Don’t keep something that doesn’t fit just because of pride or effort invested.
    • Stripping work to its essence can lead to better understanding and prevent self-deception.
  4. Elegance and Mathematical Influence
    • Mathematical elegance is a useful standard beyond math.
    • Artistic elegance often draws from mathematical elegance.
    • Laborious solutions may impress temporarily, but true elegance is long-lasting.
  5. Creation vs. Discovery
    • Err on the side of discovery when doing work that blurs the line between creation and discovery.
    • See yourself as a conduit for ideas to take their natural shape.
  6. Gratuitously Unrestrictive Tools
    • Build powerful tools with minimal restrictions to allow for unexpected uses.
    • Eliminating restrictions can lead to unforeseen benefits.
  7. Building on Ideas and Implications
    • Great work often serves as a foundation for others to build upon.
    • Creating ideas that others can use or exposing questions for others to answer is a positive sign.
    • Expressing ideas in their most general form can lead to unexpected truths.

Cultivating Originality and Curiosity

  1. True and New Ideas
    • Great ideas must be both true and new.
    • Seeing new ideas requires a certain level of ability, even at the frontiers of knowledge.
  2. Originality as a Habit of Mind
    • Originality is not a process but a habit of mind.
    • Original thinkers naturally generate new ideas in their areas of focus.
  3. Originality and Expertise
    • Originality can be separated from expertise, as seen in the example of focusing on dating without much knowledge.
    • Expertise alone does not guarantee originality.
  4. Making the Most of Originality
    • Original ideas come from working on something slightly too difficult, not from trying to have original ideas.
    • Talking or writing about interests can generate new ideas.
    • Changing context, even through a walk or travel, can stimulate new ideas.
    • Exploring different topics and using analogies can also foster originality.
  5. Distributing Attention and Curiosity
    • Distribute attention according to a power law, focusing more on a few professionally curious topics and being idly curious about many more.
  6. Curiosity as a Creative Force
    • Curiosity and originality are closely related.
    • Curiosity feeds originality by providing new things to explore and question.
    • Curiosity itself is a form of originality and can be a powerful creative force.

Discovering New Ideas: Broken Models and Rule-Breaking

  1. Novelty and Obviousness
    • Good ideas often seem simultaneously novel and obvious.
    • Once a new idea is seen, it becomes apparent and makes sense.
  2. Changing Perspectives and Broken Models
    • Discovering new ideas requires changing the way you look at the world.
    • Our models of the world can both help and constrain us.
    • Fixing a broken model makes new ideas obvious but can be challenging.
  3. Seizing Signs of Breakage
    • To find new ideas, pay attention to signs of broken models instead of ignoring them.
    • Most people are attached to their current models and tend to overlook these clues.
  4. Willingness to Break Rules
    • Fixing your model of the world often involves breaking implicit rules.
    • New ideas may require breaking rules that seem obvious from the old model’s perspective.
  5. The Right Kind of Crazy
    • Good new ideas may seem crazy to most people.
    • Look for ideas that are exciting and rich in implications, rather than merely bad or depressing.
  6. Aggressively and Passively Independent-Minded
    • Aggressively independent-minded individuals enjoy breaking rules and find energy in doing so.
    • Passively independent-minded individuals are indifferent to rules or unaware of their existence.
    • Novices, outsiders, and individuals with Asperger’s syndrome may exhibit passive independent-mindedness.
  7. Strictness and Rule-Breaking
    • Strictness and rule-breaking are not mutually exclusive.
    • In matters that truly matter, only rule-breakers can be truly strict.
    • Popular culture’s opposition between strictness and rule-breaking is based on a broken model.

Overcoming Filters and Exploring Overlooked Ideas

  1. Subconscious Filters and Overlooked Ideas
    • Overlooked ideas are often dismissed by subconscious filters due to perceived risks, controversy, or effort.
    • Turning off these filters can help in recognizing and exploring new ideas.
  2. Considering Ideas for Others
    • To bypass subconscious filters, consider what would be good ideas for someone else to explore.
    • This approach prevents self-protection mechanisms from shooting down potential ideas.
  3. Exploring Contradictions
    • Valuable ideas can be found by examining what contradicts cherished but mistaken principles.
    • Religions, both literal and metaphorical, often contain unexplored ideas in their shadows.
  4. Questioning Cherished Principles
    • Identify principles in your field that people are too attached to, potentially blinding them to alternative possibilities.
    • Discarding these principles can open up new possibilities for exploration.

Choosing Problems: Overcoming Conservatism and Uncovering Potential

  1. Conservatism in Problem Selection
    • People tend to show more originality in solving problems than in deciding which problems to work on.
    • Conservative choices in problem selection are influenced by risk and fashion.
  2. Undervalued Unfashionable Problems
    • Unfashionable problems are often undervalued and overlooked.
    • Problems that are perceived as fully explored may still hold latent potential.
  3. Pleasing Aspects of Unfashionable Problems
    • Working on unfashionable problems offers a sense of satisfaction and economy.
    • There is no hype or hurry, and existing work often has a solid foundation.
  4. Overlooked Problems of Importance
    • Many overlooked problems are not explicitly unfashionable but are perceived as less important than they actually are.
    • Being self-indulgent and following curiosity can help uncover these overlooked problems.
  5. Importance of Originality in Problem Selection
    • Originality in choosing problems is crucial and can lead to the discovery of new fields.
    • The initial step of deciding what to work on is key to the entire process.

The Power of Questions: Uncovering Insights and Puzzlement

  1. Misconceptions about New Ideas
    • Big ideas are often seen as answers, but the real insight lies in the question itself.
  2. Underrated Nature of Questions
    • Questions are often undervalued, especially in educational settings where they are quickly answered.
    • A good question can be a partial discovery and lead to excitingly novel territory.
  3. Carrying Unanswered Questions
    • Unanswered questions can be uncomfortable but increase the chance of noticing a solution or identifying connections between questions.
  4. The Importance of Youthful Questions
    • Returning to questions from childhood or earlier can lead to great work.
    • Keeping youthful questions alive is as important as keeping youthful dreams alive.
  5. Puzzlement and Originality
    • Originality involves being puzzled and comfortable with confusion.
    • Experts are often puzzled, and the presence of unanswered questions indicates matters of importance.
  6. The Richness of Unanswered Questions
    • Being rich in unanswered questions is valuable, as questions lead not only to answers but also to more questions.
    • Trying to answer existing questions is a fruitful way to acquire new questions.

Starting Small and Evolving: Prolific Curiosity and Successive Versions

  1. Promiscuous Curiosity and Starting Small
    • Be promiscuously curious and pull on various threads to see what happens.
    • Big things often start small, with experiments, side projects, or talks.
  2. The Value of Being Prolific
    • Trying many different things increases the chance of discovering something new.
    • Embrace the fact that trying lots of things means encountering both good and bad ideas.
  3. Successive Versions and Evolution
    • Great things are typically made in successive versions.
    • Start with something small and evolve it, resulting in a cleverer and more ambitious final version.
  4. Getting Feedback and Iterating
    • Get an initial version of a project in front of people quickly and evolve it based on their response.
    • Begin by trying the simplest thing that could possibly work.
  5. The Significance of Being Dismissed as a “Toy”
    • Being dismissed as a “toy” for an early version of a project is a good sign.
    • It indicates that the idea has potential and only lacks scale, which can follow.
  6. Planning vs. Evolution
    • Planning is often seen as more responsible, but starting small and evolving designs works better.
    • Planning is a necessary evil in response to inflexible media or coordination needs.
    • Keeping projects small and using flexible media allows for less planning and more evolutionary design.

Embracing Risk and Valuing Failure

  1. Risk and Reward
    • In an efficient market, risk is proportional to reward.
    • Look for bets with high expected value rather than certainty.
  2. Avoiding Excessive Conservatism
    • Failing occasionally is a sign of taking appropriate risks.
    • Being too conservative limits potential growth and opportunities.
  3. The Mistake of Youthful Conservatism
    • Inexperience often leads young individuals to fear risk.
    • However, when young, one can afford to take more risks.
  4. The Value of Failed Projects
    • Even failed projects have value.
    • Working on them exposes you to unique experiences and questions that few others have encountered.
  5. Questions from Challenging Endeavors
    • Trying to accomplish something slightly beyond your capabilities generates valuable questions.
    • These questions become a rich source of learning and growth.

Leveraging Youth and Age: Time, Curiosity, and Fresh Perspectives

  1. Advantages of Youth
    • Energy, time, optimism, and freedom are advantages of youth.
    • Use these advantages to learn, explore, and develop skills.
  2. Advantages of Age
    • Knowledge, efficiency, money, and power are advantages of age.
    • Acquire knowledge and resources when young and retain the advantages of youth when old.
  3. The Value of Time
    • Youth often underestimates the richness of time.
    • Use time in slightly frivolous ways to learn, build, and excel.
  4. Avoiding Time Wasting
    • Distinguish between activities that may seem like a waste of time but have potential value and those that are truly wasteful.
    • Focus on producing rather than consuming.
  5. Fresh Perspectives of Inexperience
    • Inexperience allows for seeing things with fresh eyes.
    • Pay attention to things that seem wrong or missing when learning something new.
  6. Revisiting Misgivings
    • Set aside initial misgivings temporarily to keep progressing.
    • Revisit and evaluate them later to uncover potential undiscovered ideas.

Overcoming Inexperience and Schooling Misconceptions

  1. Knowing What to Worry About
    • Inexperience leads to equal worry about everything, lacking the ability to prioritize.
    • Focus more on a few important things and worry less about the rest.
  2. Clearing Nonsense from Inexperience
    • Inexperience comes with acquired bad habits and false teachings.
    • Great work requires clearing away the nonsense hindering progress.
  3. Schools and Passivity
    • Schools often induce passivity, with authority figures dictating what to learn and measuring performance.
    • Overcome passivity by considering education as your project and teachers as advisors.
  4. Misleading Impression of Work
    • Schools provide a misleading impression of work by presenting solvable problems within taught boundaries.
    • Real-life work involves identifying problems and their solvability.
  5. Hacking the Test Mentality
    • Schools train students to win by hacking tests, which is not conducive to great work.
    • Focus on overlooked problems and solutions rather than seeking shortcuts.

Independence and Rejection: Focusing on Good Work

  1. Avoiding Dependency on Gatekeepers
    • Don’t rely on a “big break” from influential individuals.
    • Focus on doing good work instead of chasing after them.
  2. Not Taking Committee Rejection Personally
    • Rejection by committees should not be taken to heart.
    • The qualities that impress admissions officers and prize committees differ from those required for great work.
  3. Limited Meaning of Selection Committees
    • Selection committee decisions are only meaningful if part of a feedback loop, which is rare.
    • Don’t let committee rejections discourage or define your potential for success.

The Art of Copying and Learning from Others

  1. Copying as a Learning Tool
    • Copying existing work is a valuable way to learn and understand how things work.
    • Copying does not necessarily make your work unoriginal; originality is the presence of new ideas.
  2. The Good and Bad Ways of Copying
    • Copy openly rather than furtively or unconsciously.
    • “Great artists steal” refers to openly and consciously learning from others.
  3. Copying as a Sign of Superiority
    • Copying can be a sign of superiority rather than subordination.
    • Early work is often based on previous work, and this is natural in the beginning stages.
  4. The Novelty of Ideas and Conceptual Vocabulary
    • Novel ideas may initially seem derivative due to the lack of conceptual vocabulary to express them.
    • New discoveries often start as variations of existing things.
  5. Dangers of Copying
    • Copying old things that were once at the frontier of knowledge can be limiting.
    • Avoid copying every feature, as some may be inappropriate or outdated.
  6. Learning from Different Fields
    • Copying from one field into another can be a powerful way to innovate.
    • Deliberately learning about other kinds of work can inspire new ideas.
  7. Negative Examples and Missing Elements
    • Negative examples and flaws can be as inspiring and informative as positive ones.
    • Sometimes, understanding what is missing or done poorly helps clarify what is needed.

Benefits of Visiting Centers of Excellence

  1. Increasing Ambition and Self-Confidence
    • Visiting a place with many top professionals in your field can boost your ambition.
    • Seeing that these experts are human can increase your self-confidence.
  2. Welcoming Environment for Genuine Interest
    • Earnest individuals are likely to receive a warm welcome from experts.
    • Most people who excel in their work enjoy discussing it with genuinely interested individuals.
  3. Effort in Finding the Best
    • Identifying the truly exceptional individuals may require some effort.
    • Polite fictions exist in certain places, like universities, where not everyone is engaged in great work.
  4. Varying Quality of Work
    • The quality of work in different departments within universities can vary immensely.
    • Some departments have individuals doing great work, while others have in the past or never have.

The Importance of Quality Colleagues and Collaboration

  1. Seeking the Best Colleagues
    • Collaborate with the best colleagues who can contribute to your work and provide support.
    • Having colleagues to bounce ideas off and receive encouragement is valuable.
  2. Influence of Colleagues
    • Your colleagues not only impact your work but also shape you as an individual.
    • Work with people you aspire to become like.
  3. Quality Over Quantity
    • Having a few great colleagues is more important than having many average ones.
    • History suggests that colleagues often make the difference between doing great work and not.
  4. Identifying Sufficiently Good Colleagues
    • Sufficiently good colleagues offer surprising insights and can do things you can’t.
    • If you have a handful of colleagues who keep you on your toes in this sense, you likely have good colleagues.
  5. Collaboration on Larger Projects
    • Some projects require collaboration on a larger scale.
    • Managing such projects requires aptitude and interest in management.
  6. Learning Management or Avoiding Large Projects
    • If you lack aptitude and interest in management, you must either force yourself to learn it or avoid large projects.
    • Exceptions exist for projects with highly constrained tasks or defined protocols.

Nurturing Morale and Perseverance in Ambitious Projects

  1. The Importance of Morale
    • Morale is the foundation for success in ambitious projects.
    • It should be nurtured and protected like a living organism.
  2. Optimism and Luck
    • Optimism increases the likelihood of doing great work.
    • Viewing oneself as lucky rather than a victim also enhances productivity.
  3. Work as a Refuge
    • Engaging in pure work can serve as an escape from everyday life difficulties.
    • This productive form of escapism has been utilized by great minds throughout history.
  4. The Morale-Work Cycle
    • High morale leads to good work, which further boosts morale for even better work.
    • Conversely, a lack of good work can demoralize and hinder progress.
  5. Switching to Easier Work
    • When stuck, switching to easier work can help regain momentum and start accomplishing tasks.
    • It is important to keep the morale-work cycle running in the right direction.
  6. Setbacks and Backtracking
    • Setbacks should be considered a natural part of the process.
    • Solving hard problems often involves backtracking and trying again.
  7. Perseverance and Learning
    • “Never give up” is not entirely accurate; there are times when it’s necessary to eject.
    • Avoid panicking and backtracking excessively due to setbacks.
    • Learn to distinguish between good pain (effort) and bad pain (damage).

Audience, Relationships, and Physical Well-being in Maintaining Morale

  1. The Value of an Audience
    • An audience, whether peers or traditional, is crucial for morale.
    • The size of the audience does not need to be large; a small but dedicated audience can sustain you.
  2. Avoiding Intermediaries
    • Whenever possible, avoid intermediaries between you and your audience.
    • Direct engagement with your audience is liberating and preferable.
  3. Influential People in Your Life
    • Surround yourself with people who increase your energy and morale.
    • Be mindful of the effect individuals have on your overall well-being.
  4. Supportive Relationships
    • Choose a partner who understands and supports your need to work.
    • Avoid individuals who view your work as competition for attention.
  5. Physical Well-being
    • Morale is connected to physical well-being, so take care of your body.
    • Regular exercise, proper nutrition, and sufficient sleep are essential.
    • Running and walking are particularly beneficial for thinking.
  6. Productivity and Happiness
    • Smart and ambitious individuals who are not productive tend to become bitter.
    • Being productive is important for the happiness and fulfillment of intelligent and ambitious individuals.

Choosing the Right People and Following Curiosity

  1. Impressing the Right People
    • It’s natural to want to impress others, but choose the right individuals.
    • The opinion of people you respect is valuable, while fame adds noise.
  2. Prestige and Trailing Indicators
    • The prestige of a type of work is not a reliable indicator of its worth.
    • Doing any work exceptionally well can make it prestigious.
  3. Competition and Motivation
    • Competition can be a motivating factor, but don’t let it dictate your choices.
    • Avoid chasing something solely because others are doing it.
  4. The Power of Curiosity
    • Curiosity is a reliable guide and knows what is worth paying attention to.
    • Trust your curiosity as it holds valuable insights beyond your current knowledge.

The Power of Curiosity in Doing Great Work

  1. Curiosity as the Secret
    • Curiosity is a crucial element in doing great work.
    • If an oracle were to reveal the secret to great work, “curiosity” would likely be the answer.
  2. Nurturing and Harnessing Curiosity
    • Merely being curious is not enough; you must nurture and allow curiosity to drive you.
    • While you cannot command curiosity, you can cultivate and harness its power.
  3. Curiosity in the Four Steps of Great Work
    • Curiosity plays a role in all four steps of doing great work.
    • It helps in choosing the field, reaching the frontier, identifying gaps, and driving exploration.
  4. A Dance with Curiosity
    • The entire process of doing great work is a dance with curiosity.
    • Embrace and engage with curiosity to unlock its potential in your work.

Factors and Encouragement for Doing Great Work

  1. The Filter of Interest
    • The length of this essay acts as a filter for those genuinely interested in doing great work.
    • Making it this far indicates a genuine interest, placing you ahead of many others.
  2. Factors in Doing Great Work
    • Ability, interest, effort, and luck are the key factors in doing great work.
    • Luck is beyond control, so the focus is on ability and interest.
  3. Optimism in Finding the Right Work
    • There are numerous ways to do great work, many of which remain undiscovered.
    • Your most suitable type of work is likely a close match, waiting to be found.
  4. Overcoming Modesty and Fear
    • Modesty and fear often hold people back from attempting great work.
    • The perception of presumptuousness and difficulty discourages many from trying.
  5. Conscious Decision to Pursue Great Work
    • Make a conscious decision about whether you want to pursue great work.
    • Don’t worry about being presumptuous or the possibility of failure.
  6. Hard Work and Interest
    • Great work requires hard work, but many people face similar challenges.
    • Working on something interesting makes the effort feel less burdensome.
  7. The Opportunity for Discoveries
    • Countless discoveries are waiting to be made, and you have the potential to make them.
    • Embrace the possibility of being the one to make significant contributions.