Single player games and timescales

The Farnam Street Blog shared the transcript from a wonderfully insightful interview with Naval Ravikant. I read it a few days back and have been thinking about certain insights since. Today, I’d like to share 2 pieces that resonated. The first is about single player games and multi-player games.


Socially, we’re told, “Go work out. Go look good.” That’s a multi-player competitive game. Other people can see if I’m doing a good job or not. We’re told, “Go make money. Go buy a big house.” Again, external monkey-player
competitive game. When it comes to learn to be happy, train yourself to be happy, completely internal, no external progress, no external validation, 100% you’re competing against yourself, single-player game. We are such social creatures, we’re more like bees or ants, that we’re externally programmed and driven, that we just don’t know how to play and win at these single-player games anymore. We compete purely on multi-player games. The reality is life is a single-player game. You’re born alone. You’re going to die alone. All of your interpretations are alone. All your memories are alone. You’re gone in three generations and nobody cares. Before you showed up, nobody cared. It’s all single-player.


And the second is about timescales.


One thing I figured out kind of late is that generally, at least in the tech business in Silicon Valley, great people have great outcomes. You just have to be patient. Every person that I met at the beginning of my career 20 years
ago, where I looked at them and said, “Wow, that guy or that gal is super capable. They’re so smart and dedicated and blah, blah, blah. Now we’ll just be friends or hang out or whatever”, and then I kind of forgot about them, all of them, almost without exception, became extremely successful. You just had to give them a long enough timescale. It never happens in the timescale you want or they want, but it does happen.


I’ve written about similar themes a few times over the past few years. I wrote about the concept of path sharers alluding to the concept of a single-player game. I’ve also written time and time again about the focus on processes and the long run versus short run timescales. Things work out… in time.

But, it was refreshing to hear these framed in a different and compelling manner. I love the idea of single player games and of outcomes never happening in the timescale you want or they want.

I’ve learnt time and time again that it is easy to find ourselves caught in the rat race.

It is easy to forget that we aren’t rats.

And that it isn’t a race.

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