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Poke the Box: Choose Must

Let’s Start with Safal Niveshak
As Mr. Market behaves like a drunkard trying to get on a horse, here’s time to revisit some old posts dealing with how to behave during a stock market turbulence like we are seeing now –

Stimulate Your Mind
Forget the stock market for now, and consider some amazing content we read in recent times…

Book Worm
This is what Nassim Taleb wrote about Peter Thiel’s book Zero To One

If a risk taker writes a book, read it. If it is Peter Thiel, read it twice. In fact, read it thrice to be safe.

For the uninitiated Peter Thiel was the founder of PayPal (with Elon Musk) and an early stage investor in Facebook, Linkedin and SpaceX. He is one guy who has been there, done that. Thiel’s ideas are a must read for every entrepreneur.

Like a Zen master, Peter Thiel doesn’t believe in giving ready made answers. His ideas are more like an exercise in thinking.

The most important skill an entrepreneur requires is hiring the right people. How do you find the right people? Here’s Thiel’s favorite interview question to assess people –

What important truth do very few people agree with you on?

If you think about it, it’s a very tough question. You can’t make up an answer on the spot. The only way you can answer it convincingly is if you have spent a lot of time thinking (independently) about a tough problem.

Thiel writes –

This is a question that sounds easy because it’s straightforward. Actually, it’s very hard to answer. It’s intellectually difficult because the knowledge that everyone is taught in school is by definition agreed upon. And it’s psychologically difficult because anyone trying to answer must say something she knows to be unpopular. Brilliant thinking is rare, but courage is in even shorter supply than genius.

Answers like “Our educational system is broken and urgently needs to be fixed” or “There is no God” are all bad answers. When most people answer contrarian questions, they usually try to extrapolate the present.

A good answer looks something like this – “Most people believe in x, but the truth is the opposite of x”.

Answering contrarian questions and noticing what is ‘not present’ is a skill that can take you closer to seeing the future. Contrarian questions allow you to see the present in different ways and good answers give you a glimpse of the future.

As Taleb says, this book is not just a must read but a must re-read. So if you’ve already read the book, do yourself a favour. Read it again.

Poke of the Week – Choose Must

“Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray.” ~ Rumi

At 7 a.m. on April 8, 2014 Elle Luna clicked the publish button for an essay titled The Crossroads of Should and Must. Little did she know that her words were going to touch a chord with millions of people worldwide. Over few short weeks Elle’s article was shared over 5 million times on the internet.

Goes without saying that I was one among those readers who drew boatload of inspiration from Elle’s post.

Luna redefined the meaning of Should and Must. She writes –

Should is how other people want us to live our lives. It’s all of the expectations that others layer upon us…When we choose Should, we’re choosing to live our life for someone or something other than ourselves. The journey to Should can be smooth, the rewards can seem clear, and the options are often plentiful.

Must is different. Must is who we are, what we believe, and what we do when we are alone with our truest, most authentic self. It’s that which calls to us most deeply…Unlike Should, Must doesn’t accept compromises…To choose Must is to say yes to hard work and constant effort, to say yes to a journey without a road map or guarantees.

Vincent van Gogh chose Must when he continued to paint, canvas after canvas, even as the world rejected his art. His work went largely unrecognized while he was alive.

Elle Luna

Image Source: The Crossroads of Should and Must by Elle Luna

Choosing Must raises questions that are scary, big, and often, without an easy answer in sight.

What if one doesn’t know what his path is?

“If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it’s not your path,” Joseph Campbell said. “Your own path you make with every step you take. That’s why it’s your path.

Thinking that your Must will appear, fully formed, is like believing you can write a book by wishing and thinking. But doing one small thing, daily—pick up the pen, write a paragraph, make a list of words—that is how your Must will appear.

When you choose Must, the line separating you and your work starts disappearing. Elle quotes from Arianna Huffington’s biography of Pablo Picasso. Arianna describes how Picasso balanced work and life, saying:

The more I discovered about his life and the more I delved into his art, the more the two converged. “It’s not what an artist does that counts, but what he is,” Picasso said. But his art was so thoroughly autobiographical that what he did was what he was.

Picasso’s secret to his genius was this – his life blended seamlessly with his work. It was impossible to tell where his life ended and his paintings began. This observation lead Elle to a set of profound questions.

What if who we are and what we do become one and the same? What if our work is so thoroughly autobiographical that we can’t parse the product from the person? In this place, job descriptions and titles no longer make sense; we no longer go to work, we are the work.

I guess if you give an honest thought to these questions, it can open up a world of possibilities. It did for me.


Find the answer to – What important truth do very few people agree with you on?

Choose Must, always.

Stay happy, stay blessed and keep poking!

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About the Author

Anshul Khare worked for 12+ years as a Software Architect. He is an avid learner in various disciplines like psychology, philosophy, and spirituality with special interests in human behaviour and value investing. You can connect with Anshul on Twitter.

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