Sam Altman has worked with a large number of founders in his career.
In this post, he synthesizes thirteen thoughts on the mechanisms that led those who have succeeded.
Most people are primarily externally driven; they do what they do because they want to impress other people. This is bad for many reasons, but here are two important ones.
First, you will work on consensus ideas and on consensus career tracks.
You will care a lot—much more than you realize—if other people think you’re doing the right thing. This will probably prevent you from doing truly interesting work, and even if you do, someone else would have done it anyway.
Second, you will usually get risk calculations wrong. You’ll be very focused on keeping up with other people and not falling behind in competitive games, even in the short term.
Smart people seem to be especially at risk of such externally-driven behavior. Being aware of it helps, but only a little—you will likely have to work super-hard to not fall in the mimetic trap.