5 Harsh Truths for Success from Linus Torvalds

5 Harsh Truths for Success from Linus Torvalds

1. Nobody is Special

In motivational videos and books, there is a common message: You’re not ordinary, you can achieve whatever you want by working correctly and giving all of your energy and then you become someone special. They should be right because take a look at the history, there are lots of people we know their names among billions of them. We know them because they achieved something big and the common message is that we can achieve the same thing if we push the right buttons.

2. Being Nice is Not Nice

I’m working as a software engineer like everyone else, and in the company I’m working for, being nice is important because when they evaluate the bonus you will take at the end of the year, one of the biggest metrics is your character. In fact, if human resources fires people, one of the biggest metrics along with the performance is the behavior. We’re forcing people to be nice, otherwise, we eliminate them.

3. Goals, Ideas… are all Lies

Do you know what survivorship bias is? During the second world war, researchers from the Center for Naval Analyses conducted a study on the damage done to returned aircraft after missions. They then recommended adding armor to the areas that showed the most damage to minimize bomber losses to enemy fire. However, Abraham Wald suggested differently. Wald was a Hungarian mathematician and a member of the Statistical Research Group where he applied his statistical skills to various wartime problems. He noticed a very simple thing: The planes they were analyzing were the ones returned. This means that these planes managed to return even if they got hit in those places, which means if they got hit in other places, they couldn’t achieve the same thing.

4. There is No Intelligent Design

I was one of the people who think too long that they cannot start the thing they want to. I would research to find the best way before starting the actual work. In the end, I would never get started since I was already lost in the pursuit of finding the best way and learning the required things to achieve that.

5. Distractions Are Potential Killers

Silicon Valley culture… It is based on software engineers who change their jobs very frequently. What is the purpose of this? I think there are two: By doing this, technological ideas and improvements are scattered between companies. Secondly, it started a competition to hire the most experienced engineers, which has made compensations to hire such people higher and higher. In the fancy YouTube videos of software engineers (I also enjoy watching several of them), we can see amazing offices with free offered food, and high compensation numbers. With all of these shiny objects, lots of people want to be a part of them.

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