Site icon Jacob Robinson

Changing to Fit the Times

We often say that people succeed because they’re in the right place at the right time — but what if you change yourself to fit this place and this time?

I’ve always had beef with luck on this blog. I do believe luck is involved in success, and it serves as an alpha — we know most of luck can be explained away with hard work, skills, etc., but there is still some pieces to success that we genuinely don’t know the answer to.

One big piece of this puzzle revolves around timing. There are many famous cases of important pieces of technology being invented — lightbulbs, flight, computers — then forgotten, only for them to come back into light years later and be huge successes. Hard work can be augmented, and skill can mostly be achieved, but what about time?

Well, let’s face it: if you’re trying to invent the computer in the 1850s, you’re shit out of luck. But there’s two consequences of that. The first is that it is not necessarily bad to work on those things. Experiments lay the groundwork for future iterations, and those future iterations will more likely than not give you a share of the credit (which is exactly what they did for Babbage and Lovelace). But more importantly, those experiments can lay the groundwork for more fundamental skills — in other words, help with projects that are more historically relevant.

This is why it pays to experiment with a lot of things at once. You can’t tell what short-term future trends will hold, and by the time trends are current it’s too late to hop on them. It’s better to try some stuff, if its growth is stagnant then throw it out, and if its growth is great then follow the tug and do something more along those lines. But even for the things you throw out, make sure the breadcrumbs are still there — you never know if they might be useful to someone later down the line.

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