Paul Graham on Determination

Paul Graham just posted a new essay on determination. It is probably my favorite of his essays so far. I particularly like this paragraph:

That word balance is a significant one. The more willful you are, the more disciplined you have to be. The stronger your will, the less anyone will be able to argue with you except yourself. And someone has to argue with you, because everyone has base impulses, and if you have more will than discipline you’ll just give into them and end up on a local maximum like drug addiction.1

In part I like this passage because it reminds me of this aphorism of Nietzche’s:

Once the decision has been made, to shut your ears even to the best counterarguments: a sign of a strong character. Also an occasional will to stupidity.2

And in part I like it because it reminds me of the reasons why I and so many of the people I care about chose to become straightedge as teenagers.

  1. Paul Graham : The Anatomy of Determination
  2. Friedrich Nietzsche : Beyond Good and Evil : Part Four : 107