Six Profound Insights from Naval Ravikant

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Quotes, skmurphy

Here are six profound insights from Naval Ravikant in “Tribe of Mentors” by Tim Ferris

Six Profound Insights from Naval Ravikant

Ravikant (@naval) is the CEO and a co-founder of AngelList. He previously co-founded Epinions (which went public as part of Shopping.com) and Vast.com. He is an active Angel investor, and has invested in dozens of companies, including Twitter, Uber, Yammer, Stack Overflow and Wanelo.

“Suffering is a moment of clarity, when you can no longer deny the truth of a situation and are forced into uncomfortable change. Inside suffering is the seed of change.”
Naval Ravikant

Entrepreneurs suffer for a variety of  reasons. One of the most common for me when I fail to live up to what I believe my potential is: the clarity that ensues can trigger a re-assessment of my true capabilities–or frustration with my lack of willpower–and the need to make improvements. Another common source of suffering to fail to follow through on my commitments to others–cofounders, employees, customers, business partners, friends and family members. The clarity that ensues has led to much more care in making commitments, taking more care not over commit, and letting others know as soon as I realize it that I need to renegotiate. I don’t mean to make this sound easy at all, but planning for iterations  can allow you to survive small failures and gain the clarity to succeed.

“The genuine love for reading itself, when cultivated, is a superpower. The means of learning are abundant–it’s the desire to learn that is scarce. Cultivate that desire by reading what you want.”
Naval Ravikant

I have enjoyed reading for as long as I can remember. I still try to carry a book when I know I may have a wait. I agree with Naval on the value of cultivating the willingness to follow your own interests. But I have also tried to develop my ability to do research to help others. I felt this most acutely when I was helping my father-in-law come up with a plan for managing his myelofibrosis, a rare blood / bone marrow disorder. I spent a fair amount of time in on-line forums for people with rare blood disorders–many offered a lot of practical tips for managing the challenges of living with the disease–and reading medical texts and decoding words like ‘hepatomegaly.” It reminded of trying to read second year French or German, I knew many of the words but was still looking up at least new one very sentence. Trickier were plain English words that had a different meaning in a medical text (e.g. “differential” is not a math function or a gear in your rear axle but symptoms that are used to differentiate different potential diseases).

“Happiness is a choice you make and a skill you develop. The mind is just as malleable as the body. We spend so much time and effort trying to change the external world, other people, and our own bodies, all the while accepting ourselves the way were programmed in our youth.”
Naval Ravikant

I think people have a setpoint or natural equilibrium point for their average level of happiness. They may oscillate around it but different people seem to be naturally more cheerful or content. I have found meditation is useful to gaining insights about assumptions, beliefs, and behaviors that are holding me back–failure and suffering is useful for this as well but I think meditation is underrated. With practice, I find it allows me to mentally summon “the cold light of day” perspective on a situation. And sometimes I get a good nap which is rarely a waste of time either and can do as much good for promoting mental clarity.

“Do everything you were going to do, but with less angst, less suffering, less emotion. Everything takes time.”
Naval Ravikant

There are a lot of tasks that take much less time when I let go of the negative emotional soundtrack you have unconsciously summon. I sometimes find it very hard to let go of my anxiety and resistance, but at least realizing that I am making it harder can sometimes allow me to at least partially let go.

“Don’t do things that you know are morally wrong. Not because someone is watching, but because you are. Self-esteem is just the reputation that you have with yourself. You’ll always know.”
Naval Ravikant

I think you have to make amends where possible and to acknowledge a moral lapse and ask for forgiveness. I like Jordan Peterson’s advice in this regard:  “Tell the truth. Act so that you can tell the truth about how you act.” I think Naval is right that you will always know about your moral lapses, but you have to forgive and remember. Forgive yourself if you have made amends but remember the mistake so as not to repeat it.

“The only way to truly learn something is by doing it. Yes, listen to guidance. But don’t wait.”
Naval Ravikant

Lately I take more of a measure twice cut once kind of approach, but the reality is that all learning involves a considerable amount of trial and error, small failures and the need to unlearn old habits and obsolete mental models. There is a certain amount of pain that cannot be avoided when learning something, and even an argument that a certain amount of frustration is useful for forcing you to  re-visit key assumptions that  further examination may lead you to abandon. In see entrepreneurs who were “A students” sometimes handicapped by a desire to avoid the need for trial and error: there seems to be something in particular about higher education that  erects very effective internal barriers to taking an action where they may be wrong–or less than perfect.

“Forgiveness means giving up hope for a better past.”
Lily Tomlin

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See also “Forgive and Remember” by Charles L. Bosk

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