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John Carmack on Doing Something Great

Spaceships (

Here’s something inspirational and motivational from John Carmack that I found in Jerry Pournelle’s “Chaos Manor mail” a few years ago:

The power of the individual or small group today is vastly greater than it was even 50 years ago. We are far wealthier, and the resources that are at our fingertips today are, in many ways, better than what could be had at any price 50 years ago. Yes, there are significant parasitic costs in our current society, but they are overwhelmed by the almost magical capabilities and opportunities we have as a modern technological civilization.

Want to go to space? Build rockets. Don’t have the skills? Go learn. Don’t have the resources? Go earn.


Don’t just wait around for an Atlas to appear. Become one. Focus on the details and the steps. It is popular to want to be a part of something so grand that the messy little details of actually doing the work aren’t important. “We are going to colonize space!” is so very far away from “Did you order a new roll of shielded cable today?” that it excuses people from making progress. If you want to do something great, take small, concrete steps towards it every single day.

John Carmack, Letter to Jerry Pournelle

Small, concrete steps. Daily.


Steps and the power of example