We start the episode by thanking Michael O. for buying us a cup of great coffee. He says he listens to the podcast now, in his 20’s, to avoid a midlife crisis down the line. Peter and Paul buckle under the weight of such responsibility! We focus this episode on a freshman seminar taught at Harvard called “Reflecting on Your Life” in which 18-year-olds grapple with profound questions of identity: Are your actions in line with your stated goals and principles? Do you want to be a niche player, with expertise, or a generalist, with a broad view? Is it best to develop career interests contemporaneously (i.e. in tandem) or sequentially? Pete thinks that certain minds are predisposed to chaos and creativity, while others are orderly and focused. During the discussion, Pete concludes that the symbiosis between artists and “suits” is necessary and that each role is crucial. But, he bristles when pre-successful artists are labeled “bums” while accomplished artists are regarded as geniuses. Another question posed in the freshman seminar: what to do when your core values are in conflict. Paul has first-hand experience with this: he is married and is planning a family with all the responsibility and stability that requires (e.g. mortgage, children, education), yet he loves the creative life and his many projects, none of which could be classed a “stable career.” How will his situation resolve itself? Finally, the article asks us to confront the scale of our ambitions: are we happy contributing to the local community, or do we have “world-changing” ambition, as Elon Musk has? Is one necessarily better than the other? Do we have an obligation to the world at large? And, how can kids know at eighteen what they want, much less who they are? Pete ties it off nicely by explaining that most of the important decisions in our lives are nothing more than educated guesses: the person we marry, the city we reside in, the career we choose.
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