Life is paradoxical in nature. A lot of things seem to contradict from mere observation. However, sit down and think about it and you’d realize it’s actually true. Everything in life is a Paradox. We all agree that there are two sides of everything, right? Well, that in itself is a Paradox. This is what makes life meaningful and meaningless at the same time.
I came across David Perell‘s long list of paradoxes and I thought it would be a great idea to share and also comment on them. You can also leave a comment as well. Let’s get started!
1. The paradox of reading: The books you read will profoundly change you even though you’ll forget the vast majority of what you read.
Most of our ideas, if not all, are not unique. They are borrowed. Not totally borrowed, but how will we even know? We don’t even really remember where we first saw the idea. The idea has assimilated into our way of thinking. This is why I love to read. Although I won’t remember everything I read, there is scientific evidence that reading literally changes the brain structure. You don’t remember, but there’s physical proof from your brain scan that you know something that simpletons don’t.
2. The paradox of writing: Great writing looks effortless. But because the ideas are so clear, casual readers don’t appreciate how much time it took to refine them.
I publish a new post every Saturday on my website, and I’ve done this consistently for more than 3 years now. A wonderful and well-articulated blog post such as the one you are reading at the moment looks so effortless, as if no thought when into it. Everything looks easy when you’re not the one doing it. The simplest of tasks still comes great effort. Sometimes the most difficult looks the easiest, and vice versa.
3. The paradox of creativity: Your work is done when it looks so simple that the consumer thinks they could’ve done it, which means they won’t appreciate how hard you worked.
In line with the paradox of writing, creative work is the most unappreciated kind of work in the whole world. Everybody thinks they can do it. Because it usually doesn’t require physical strength, people take the mental struggle and thought process for granted. Nobody knows how hard it is to get a concept…because the concept – at the end of the day – sounded so basic and simple.
4. The paradox of decision making: It’s better to choose, commit, and get started instead of waiting for the best possible option, so the correct decisions are actually suboptimal.
At any time you make a decision, you don’t fully have all options available to you. You are torn between waiting for the best option to arrive or grabbing the best option at the moment before it leaves. If you grab the best option now, what if you had waited a little longer for the next option? Maybe it would have been the best option. If you wait, how long do you have to wait? What if you wait and no other better option comes along and then you lose the few best options you have? Girls understand this hustle the most when it comes to choosing a guy. All our decisions are sub-optimal at any point, and we have to stick with the benefits and challenges that comes with it without thinking about any other option left or option yet to come.
5. The paradox of originality: Many of history’s greatest artists have found their voice by copying others. We discover who we are by imitating others and watching our uniqueness emerge over time.
As aforementioned, our ideas are not unique. There are no new concepts under the sun. All the fundamentals and foundations have been established. If you want to build something, copy and paste that foundation. Hence, to discover your unique style, you need to explore the existing styles. Before you discover your style, you would have imitated a lot of styles that inspire you.
6. The paradox of news: By telling us to care about everything, the news leads to apathy instead of action.
Nobody watches the news all the time and goes, “omG, we have to do something.” Maybe we all start like that. After a while, we just don’t care anymore. It doesn’t hit home as it used to, unless the incident happens very close to our vicinity. We hear the news, get a little sad and concerned for a while, and go on living like we never heard it in the first place. After all, we can’t care too much about too many things. Some things don’t matter to us or move us anymore, and that’s life.
7. The Paradox of Abundance: Information abundance, like all markets of abundance, are bad for the average person but great for a small number of people.
If everyone got to know so much about a particular thing, that information will be taken for granted. For something to remain a secret, only few people must know. For something to remain a treasure, only a few must have access to it. We talked about financial literacy being the difference between the rich and poor. Well, information is the actually the secret asset to societal segregation. The more hidden an information, the more impact it makes and the more cherishable it becomes. This is why naturally, we are not meant to know everything. Information abundance is a curse disguised as a blessing.
8. The Paradox of Consensus: Under ancient Jewish law, if a suspect was found guilty by every judge, they were deemed innocent. Too much agreement implied a systemic error in the judicial process. Beware: unanimous agreement often leads to bad decisions.
Inasmuch as we all want to agree on certain matters, it becomes paradoxical. If we all think the same way, there’s a problem. If absolutely everyone agrees, there’s something wrong. If no one has an objection, a concern, a counter idea, another perspective, a disagreement, another suggestion or any sort of criticism, there is definitely something wrong.
9. The Paradox of Skill: The more evenly matched opponents are in skill, the more of a role luck plays in determining the final outcome.
Because of this paradox, so many people believe in luck. Truth is, if you lack something, you don’t have enough luck. However, in a case where everyone is almost as well-trained, well-prepared and well-versed, it is left to luck to determine the outcome. By luck, we mean the unpredictability of events. It’s a Paradox, really. Because losers will think lack is everything and can’t be convinced otherwise.
10. The Productivity Paradox: We keep inventing things that save us time, but it feels like we have less time than ever before.
We say we don’t have time, yet we waste so much time. How come? Technology is designed to make our world easier and faster. However, this same technology that freed so much time for us to do more productive work, competes for our attention to engage in less productive tasks. A quick example. In 2017, Netflix CEO declared sleep as their biggest competitor. We can’t blame technology, really. Can we, though?
To be continued….