Wayne Hsiung
Published on
August 9, 2013

Learning by Doing

One of the lessons I've learned from the many Israelis in my life: stop thinking so god damn much about risks and uncertainties, and just go out and do something

There's a natural human tendency to procrastinate. To sit on our hands in anxiety. To aspire for some illusion of certainty or rigor. And to become paralyzed by analysis. 

But the reality is that for certain hard problems, we are living in a world of deep (Knightian) uncertainty. And a fast-changing world, at that. So even if you could learn some lesson through meta-analysis -- which you usually can't -- the lesson might very well apply to a world that no longer exists. 

The Earthlings march is a great example of this. Asaf HardufSasha Boojor (who is always telling me, "I don't give a shit about ideological disagreements; the biggest problem in this movement is a lack of ACTION."), and others in Israel had the loose contours for an international event a few weeks (days?) ago, themed Earthlings. They could have sat around for months planning it, fretting over it, pre-strategizing about it, etc. Instead, they just said, Let's go fucking do it. And then they got to work. And we now have a few thousand people rallying in cities all over the world. 

There's a lesson there for all of us: if you want to do something great, go out and do it. Don't think about it. Don't talk about it. Don't analyze it. Don't fret over it. Just go and do it

That doesn't mean to go about it in non-strategic fashion. Think hard about what you're trying to accomplish, and how you're going to accomplish it. But we learn best by doing, not thinking. There are dimensions to the problem you will not even appreciate, if you don't jump into the fray, and start getting your hands dirty with day-to-day problem solving. (The irony of meta-analysis is that, as my former teacher and Nobel Prize winner Robert Lucas has shown, the best way to learn meta lessons is by working with non-meta problems!) 

And the urgency of the now is the strongest motivator, for people to think and work harder at solving the problems of tomorrow.


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