We have all heard the saying, ‘Fortune favors the brave.’ I like the saying, but it ain’t accurate or specific enough for me:
I’m self-teaching myself Latin
You might see that I’ve been writing a lot about etymology (history of words), as well as Latin/Ancient Greek.
The reason is this:
Studying ancient Latin or Greek is beneficial– because it helps us gain deeper wisdom or specificity of ideas, which can empower us.
For example, the saying “Fortune favors the brave” is mostly known as the Latin:
‘Audentes fortuna iuvat’
This is how I break it down:
- Audentes – audaciousness
- Fortuna – fortune
- Iuvat – like
So the saying, ‘Audentes fortuna iuavat’ kind of means like:
“Fortune favors the audacious.”
I prefer the word ‘audacious’ more than the word ‘bold’. Bold is a bit soft and fluffy. Audacious is good, because it gives you a more visceral vision — you imagine someone who is battle-hungry, a little foolish, but brave-bold at the same time.
I recently finished a good translation of Virgil’s Aeneid (for iPad/iPhone) and really liked the phrase:
“Audentis Fortuna iuvat.”
This is fun to break down, because:
- First of all, note how the word “Fortune” is written with a capital F. This alludes to the fact that in the past, “Fortune” was personified as a goddess — ‘Lady Fortune’ in my eyes. Thus, when you need empowerment and help, you can always look up to this fictional goddess, Lady Fortune, to assist you!
- Secondly, Audentis (Latin, ‘audens’) is a combination of the words: daring, venturing, risking, and eager for battle. Thus to be ‘audacious’ means that you live a life where you are eager for battle! You are excited to fight, take risks, and take personal entrepreneurial or life-risks (the concept of having ‘Skin in the Game’ by Nassim Taleb).
- Third, ‘iuvat’ means a lot of stuff (‘iuvo’ in Latin): help, aid, serve, delight, gratify, please. If you study the ancient Indo-European definition, the word ‘hewH‘, it means to “help, assist, protect.”
Thus to synthesize all of this:
Lady fortune empowers and uplifts the audacious and hungry for battle.
In practical words:
The more (epic) risks you take in life, the more likely you are to succeed!
What ‘big hairy audacious problem’ are you trying to solve?
I am a fan of Peter Thiel (co-founder of PayPal mafia). In his book, ‘Zero to One’, he brings up this concept of a ‘big, hairy audacious problem’ — which is a good visual for something difficult, challenging, and interesting you are trying to solve/fix.
1. How to fix social media
For example, I started ARSBETA.COM with Cindy and my friend Kevin to solve this big problem:
How can we make the mindless and consumptive social media practices into something productive, empowering, and helpful?
My simple idea (for now):
Give the user a direct pipeline of images, and have them easily ‘keep’ or ‘ditch’ pictures– which gives real meaningful feedback to the photographer looking to edit their work.
This is my big dream:
What if one day social media could actually empower people? Actually help them get meaningful feedback and critique, and to use social media as a bridge to facilitate more in-person (REAL LIFE) interactions?
The problem with Facebook and Instagram: it ‘gasifies’ your self-esteem and feelings via feedback on ‘likes’. This is not good for self-esteem.
As Elon Musk said (when he deleted his Instagram):
‘Instagram is so thirsty, yet gives you Death by Water.’
2. Philosophical inquiry (with yourself)
Another problem I faced:
Most of us don’t know why we do anything in life.
Thus I worked with my buddy Stoytcho to make the ‘ZEN OF ERIC’ bot— which just (sometimes annoyingly) asks you:
I treat ZEN OF ERIC like a mirror. It is just a chance for me to do some mental-sparring with myself, to distill some of my ideas.
Why be audacious?
Honestly, to be audacious is more fun.
I remember when I was in high school and I would play ‘de_dust2’ with my friends in Counterstrike 1.6, and when I was on the Counter-Terrorist side, I would often “rush mid” (almost suicidally) yet a lot of people would get caught off-guard by my audaciousness, and thus I would end up picking off everyone.
Sometimes in life, the more audacious and ridiculous you are, the more likely you are to succeed.
For example, there is a great story of Steve Jobs [Netflix interview, ‘The lost Interview’] in which he told when he was 12 years old, he called up Bill Hewlett and asked for some spare parts! This was the day when you could still find people’s private phone numbers in phone books.
Now, imagine an adult observing Steve Jobs’ behavior, they would say:
“Don’t be so audacious and bold of directly calling the CEO!!!”
But Steve Jobs had none of that fear– because he was young, and not yet clouded by ‘realism’ of adults.
So in some ways, to be more audacious means to be a little bit more ‘foolish’ and ‘child-like’.
There is a cautionary tale of Icarus who flies too high to the sun, and ends up dying (because his golden wings melt). Interestingly enough, Stanley Kubrick said something like:
I wonder if most people mis-interpret this story. Perhaps the morale of the story should be, ‘Use better glue on your wings’ (to avoid them melting off, when you fly close to the sun).
So the goal is this:
Fly as close to the sun as possible, yet, be prepared.
Be bold, audacious, and lady fortune will be on your side!