Rejecting conventional wisdom

Rejecting conventional wisdom

99% of what you hear on podcasts, YouTube and in most blogs is conventional vanilla advice. It might seem more unique than the garbage you hear on mainstream TV. But, be sure, it's conventional. And the 100,000 other people listening to that episode all got the same advice.

When we all listen to the same advice, and act on it, we become like lemmings. Or, as Seth Godin puts it, cogs in the machine.

Nassim Taleb warned the students to ignore most (if not all) advice during his commencement speech for the American University in Beirut.

"I hesitate to give advice because every major single piece of advice I was given turned out to be wrong and I am glad I didn’t follow them. I was told to focus and I never did. I was told to never procrastinate and I waited 20 years for The Black Swan and it sold 3 million copies. I was told to avoid putting fictional characters in my books and I did put in Nero Tulip and Fat Tony because I got bored otherwise. I was told to not insult the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal; the more I insulted them the nicer they were to me and the more they solicited Op-Eds. I was told to avoid lifting weights for a back pain and became a weightlifter: never had a back problem since."

In his book, the Black Swan, Taleb said there were only two pieces of advice given to him that worked and one of those was actually bad advice that he turned into something positive.

Naval Ravikant often talks about building specific knowledge. Knowledge that other people don't have. The stuff you can't learn in a book or at university.

What do you know that other people don't? And do better than other people? And what do you find so incredibly fascinating that you could spend most of your time doing it. That's where specific knowledge lives.

We've all become consumption machines. If not Netflix it's YouTube. Facebook or Twitter. Blog after blog after blog. Written by people who mistake how-to advice for biographical musings based on what worked for them but probably won't work for you.

So we should ignore conventional wisdom. And we should start off by earning the liberation of being able to change our minds.

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