I consider this virtue an important one that can make or break a man.
And it changes you.
One example is Colin Powell, a four star general in the US army with real battle experience from Vietnam. There are too many generals around the world now, who know battle only from computer games, and this is no joke, it’s really true.
But Powell is different and it shows - you just need to look at him how he carries himself, how he talks.
Or consider Nassim Taleb, Lebanese by birth, a long time trader on Wall Street, now a professor at the NYU and a great writer. His “Fooled by Randomness” is brilliant.
Nassim’s specialty was out of money options, which he was buying.
These are financial instruments that will make you lose a little money for most of the time, except when there is a huge event in the markets and you make a fortune.
So this guy, Nassim, went to bed every night for seven, eight or nine years knowing full well that he will loose some money tomorrow. Imagine that.
Then the 2008 crisis came, which he predicted some four years earlier, and he made all the money back and then some.
This takes guts. It’s not your bread and butter nine-to-five.
It also shows that geniuses come in two flavors – one is a person with a great bold idea, the prodigy. Like the Silicon Valley wonder kids.
And the other is the one who comes through trial and error – the late bloomer, the strong and stubborn one.
But they both share something important in common – the notion of meaningful work. And this is unique and vital.
It brings with it some insights, which will surprise you, if you follow that thought.
First, you have to be prepared to constantly revise your conclusions.
Not easy at all.
Second, you will question the education system, which grooms us for so many years, preparing us for adulthood and any jobs that we may aspire to.
Let me give you an example.
Currently, jobs all over the world are lost to robots, computers and technology in general.
This is not a trend that will ever stop, it will only accelerate.
So it is a folly to teach kids subjects and concepts that directly compete with machines.
The robot in the plant is faster, more precise, doesn’t take vacation and doesn’t have a bad day. It will beat a human every time.
We need to teach the kids things that the machines can’t do - creativity, values, teamwork, responsibility. Technology doesn’t compete with these human abilities.
For this we need a new system, and there is no choice but to do it. Whichever country will figure this one first will be ahead of everybody else.
Experiences which humble you, also make want you to know one important thing, at least that is my case. If ever die, and I obviously will, I want to ask the higher power one question, and I hope that I will be allowed to.
I have made some bold decisions in my life and I want to know which of them were right, and in which cases I would be better of doing the opposite.
Not that it matters after I’m dead, but I still want to know.
Call it my requiem.
Tom Kubiak is the author of The Traveler