Mia Heidenstedt

A Project of One's Own

A Project of One’s Own


The article, titled “Own”, is written by Paul Graham and was published in June 2021. It discusses the concept of working on a project of one’s own and how it differs from ordinary work. Here are the key points:

  1. Working on a project of one’s own is compared to skating, which is more fun and productive than ordinary work (walking). This kind of work is often exciting and engaging, even though it may not always lead to happiness due to the challenges and problems encountered.

  2. The author argues that a significant proportion of great work has been done by people who were “skating” in this sense. He emphasizes the importance of autonomy and the sense of ownership in work.

  3. The article also discusses the disconnect between the work children do (like building a treehouse) and the work adults do. It criticizes the school system for not making it clear to children that their playful projects could lead to serious work in adulthood.

  4. The author prefers his children to work on ambitious projects of their own rather than focusing on getting good grades. He argues that such projects have more predictive value for future success.

  5. The article also explores the concept of collaboration and how it fits into the idea of owning a project. It suggests that collaboration can either involve sharing a single project or working on separate projects that fit together.

  6. The author concludes by encouraging adults to recapture the carefree confidence they had as children when starting new projects. He suggests that adults can have the best of both worlds: being deliberate in choosing to work on projects of their own and carelessly confident in starting new ones.

productivity work life