Three Lessons from Naval Ravikant

Take a look around at the leaders of today’s world. Many of the people at the forefront of politics, business, media and art seem to share one thing in common: they are extreme. In today’s information age, people feel the need to be radical in order to simply be acknowledged. Every mainstream role model seems to have a decisive and arguably extreme response to every question; that is, except for Naval Ravikant.

Naval is an entrepreneur and angel investor, who has struck a chord with an ever-growing following as a thought leader of this generation. Surrounded by a sea of irrational and radical “role models,” Naval stands out by virtue of his calm wisdom and unwavering level-headedness. He is a true role model from which we stand to learn.

While Ravikant’s lessons on attaining wealth have been well-documented on his Twitter page, Naval is far more than just a source of financial advice. Here are three life lessons that we can all stand to learn from Naval.

Limit Your Desires, Limit Your Suffering

“Desire is a contract you make with yourself to be unhappy until you get what you want. […] Desire is suffering. Every desire you have is an axis where you will suffer. So just don’t focus on more than one desire at a time. The universe is rigged in such a way that if you just want one thing, and you focus on that, you’ll get it, but everything else you need to let go.”

— Naval Ravikant

Borrowing from a fundamental Buddhist principle, Naval beautifully describes the relationship between desire and unhappiness. But, he makes one crucial and pragmatic change to the Buddhist idea: instead of renouncing all your desires, just focus on one desire at a time. Naval views desire as a valuable currency, rather than something that should be handed out at every turn.

So, you want to become a high-achieving lawyer because that’s what you’re passionate about? Good, that’s a worthy desire. Break it down into small steps, and focus on each one at a time. So, you want to repair a relationship with a family member? Another worthy desire. Create a step-by-step plan and focus on it when appropriate. But, once you start wanting warmer weather, more Instagram followers, a slightly better build, a better-looking partner, a bigger house and a faster car, it is essential to stop the cycle. Which of those things, if any, are truly worth desiring? By implementing Naval’s philosophy, it is likely that the answer may be few, or even none.

Don’t Read to Finish Books, Read to Satisfy Your Curiosity

“I read for understanding. So, with a really good book, I’ll flip through it. I won’t actually read it in consecutive order. I might not even finish it. I’m looking for ideas and things that I don’t understand. When I find something really interesting, I’ll reflect on it, research it, and then when I’m bored of it, I’ll drop it or I’ll flip to another book. I don’t read anymore to complete books. I read to satisfy my genuine intellectual curiosity.”

Naval Ravikant

As social creatures, we crave attention and adoration. We want to feel like we are high amongst the ranks of our social group, in terms of our appearance, popularity and intellect. There are so many things that we do to signal our intelligence, instead of actually focusing on becoming intelligent. Reading books only to brag about completing them is one of these signals.

In truth, tracking the books you read is nothing more than an ego boost. It also creates the false notion that in order to start a book, you must finish it. Sure, there are books that warrant a cover-to-cover read; but, if you’re no longer gaining knowledge that you deem valuable: put it down. It’s doing you no good, and is keeping you from reading something that could actually stimulate and satisfy your intellectual curiosity. Be curious, don’t be vain

Re-Invent Yourself & Try New Things

Everyone should just be able to do everything. I don’t believe in this model anymore of trying to focus your life down on one thing. You’ve got one life. Just do everything you’re going to do. […] When you look at the greatest artists and creators, they have this ability to start over that nobody else does.”

Naval Ravikant

What makes Naval fascinating is not just that he is a highly successful investor. It’s the fact that he is also a modern-day philosopher, an avid practitioner of meditation, and a popular podcaster.

What makes Elon Musk fascinating is not just that he is the spearhead of the self-driving car movement. It’s the fact that he is also at the forefront of space exploration, while attempting to revolutionize urban traffic and integrate brains and computers.

Becoming extremely good at only one thing is outstandingly useless in 99% of life. Once you gain the ability to excel at a variety of things, it allows you to combine them in ways that nobody would’ve thought possible or attractive. It opens up so many doors, creates massive amounts of self-confidence, and brings you closer to the hunter-gatherer, do-it-yourself ancestors we came from. Re-invent yourself as often as you can.


Naval is a true beacon of wisdom that is rarely found in mainstream media. These lessons are just three of countless teachings that are both insightful and pragmatic. You can check out his Twitter page here, as well as his outstanding YouTube series on how to attain wealth, here.

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