Luis Cuende


Too many passions

Most of my schoolmates, with a few exceptions, didn’t have any passion or hobby they really loved.

Most of them drifted towards starting a college degree that would give them good pay.

Most of them didn’t feel passionate about any particular job or activity that could be valuable for the market.

That always felt weird to me, because I felt the opposite.

When I was 12, I got into the open source rabbit hole and it blew my mind. I immediately picked up programming. From there on, creating software products became my passion.

I founded my first open source project that eventually got to >20k users worldwide and some international recognition. I was still in high school, and I think finding my passion rescued me from the incredible apathy that the Industrial Era education system inflicts upon children.

As trivial as it sounds, I learned something that changed my life: there are things out there that I love doing for their own sake.

Almost right after this discovery I started playing basketball on my school’s team. I got hooked.

And when I was 15 I discovered electronic music via Eric Prydz and Avicii.

At the same time, I got into startups.

I created my first startup when I was 15, and produced my first track when I was 17. Although today I realize how amateur my attempts were, it was a stepping stone.

At some point I got tired of software and I went explorative.

I co-founded a sunglasses company (yeah, super random) and got deep into making music. The latter made me wonder if I should ditch my already successful entrepreneurial activities and do music full-time.

Fortunately, around that time I got into Bitcoin. With my time, not with my money, which I didn’t have much of. It clicked because it felt like the best combination of open source technology, but that can grow exponentially like startups. I loved the impact it could have upon society.

And then Ethereum, then founded Aragon, now Nation3…

In the process I realized I love writing. And also reading. And angel investments. And design. And coding — which I had forgotten after focusing on management at the startups I founded.

If I had unlimited lives, I would love to design and hack hundreds of cool products, become a professional musician, write dozens of books, start an investment firm and deeply study topics I’m curious about like nutrition or tools for prediction.

Don’t get me wrong, I love loving each of these topics. I could spend a lifetime on each of them and it would be a happy, fulfilling life.

But you only live once. So a question of prioritization arises.

The first logical answer can be do a bit of everything.

The problem is that if you are really passionate about something, you need to master it.

For me, being mediocre just doesn’t cut it. I don’t feel good about doing something I’m mediocre at.

So the only valid answer then is to pick a few, and reevaluate over time (e.g. every year).

The idea is to write down all your passions/hobbies and rate them on the following:

  • Passion: How burning is the feeling?
  • Knowledge: How much do you know already? The more you know the easier it gets, so at least for me the rewards are higher, as I don’t like to do mediocrity.
  • Time requirements: How much does this passion need of you? This might change over time, as newly picked passions will need more time to master them.
  • Maintenance requirements: How timeless are the skills? Once mastered, can you get the rewards without the investment?
  • Priorities might change over time, as you can go from mastering one passion to mastering the next one.

    For me, doing this exercise feels like a small part of me is dying. Or rather, that one of the versions I could be will never exist. And that has given me some anxiety before.

    Maybe this is a version of Fight Club’s famous quote, the things you own will end up owning you. Maybe it’s the hobbies you have will end up having you. And that’s where one needs to draw the line. These activities are supposed to bring joy, not to make you feel bad you are not enjoying them.

    I’m getting comfortable with the fact that at any given point in life I’ll have most passions parked, but not forever forgotten. And even if I don’t get to master and enjoy all of them… I love each of them so much that I would be fine just mastering and doing one of them.