Flat paths behind. Mountains ahead. Always.

Thinking about the upcoming year. As you do.

This perspective, from Y Combinator CEO Sam Altman on Recode Decode, taken completely out of context and used for my own purposes here, is helpful:

The thing that’s always hard about exponential curves is when you look backwards they look flat and when you look forwards they look vertical.

He’s talking about technological innovation. But it applies to just about any longview of life.

It’s difficult to really know how far you’ve come, or at least experience it as viscerally as what seems to be coming. It was all so easy. But something daunting this way comes.

Students don’t understand how much they’ve learned. Especially when they are looking at things from the perspective of information vs. education. All they see is a scary future ahead and the fear that they haven’t been given enough Formulas for Winning in the past.

Then one day they’ll be in a street fight and will be using kung-fu without having realized that they knew kung-fu.

(Whoa.)

That’s when they’ll understand why they were never given the secret lever.

But I don’t think that can happen beforehand.

Maybe it wasn’t all so easy, after all. And maybe what’s coming will look flat in the rear view, just like everything else.