Because the Stakes are so Small

Abhishek Paul
2 min readSep 25, 2022

One of my favorite thinkers, Peter Thiel in his description of the brokenness of academic institutions spoke about the professors there. He said they tend to take their positions so seriously, hold grudges, be political mainly because the stakes in the larger perspective are so small. This was counter intuitive as I thought that how one felt about anything was directly correlated to how big the stakes were — but this is why I like Thiel, he is a real contrarian, ie not someone who simply takes an anti majority position, but someone who understands the real problem so deeply and hence his views automatically puts him in a minority.

This view keeps coming back to me as I look into my life today especially the professional side of it. I see it in the conflicts large and small between people ( myself included). Whats really at stake though? Is it being right, being seen as important / powerful / knowledgeable, the impact on our salary / promotion, being the smartest / most successful person in my peer group?

How much do these things really matter? Are these the things that I want to matter in my life? If not, why do I let it be a major part of how I feel or how I make decisions? This is something I now try to remind myself of — to ask if what’s troubling me is really worth it. A longer exercise is to try to understand for myself what are the things that are really at stake.

Remember the fight might seem the biggest at the moment, but its not really worth it if the stakes are ultimately not as big as well.

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