爱思英语编者按:PayPal的创始人之一、硅谷知名风投家彼得•泰尔近日在汉密尔顿学院(Hamilton College)2016级毕业典礼上发表了演讲,谈及如何探索创新和推动变革。,这位以嘴大敢说话而闻名的企业家之前曾公开表示,大学教育无论对于考上了的、没考上的,还是对于整个社会,都没有任何益处。汉密尔顿学院居然会这样一位曾经炮轰大学教育的仁兄来给毕业生演讲,也算是惊世骇俗的选择了。不过,彼得•泰尔在此次演讲中大谈探索创新和推动变革,倒也十分应景。以下是他的演讲原文。

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Hamilton College 2016 Commencement Address
在汉密尔顿学院2016届毕业典礼上的演讲词

Thank you so much for the kind introduction. It’s a tremendous honor to be here.
感谢您的热情介绍。能在这里演讲,我感到无比光荣。

Like most graduation speakers my main qualification would seem to be that I am one of the few people who are even more clueless about what is going on in your lives than your parents and your professors.
和大多数毕业典礼上的演讲嘉宾一样,貌似我的主要特点就是——你们的父母和老师并不清楚你们的生活究竟过得怎样,我是少数几个比父母和老师更不了解情况的人之一。

Most of you are about 21 or 22 years old, you’re about to begin working. I haven’t worked for anybody for 21 years. But if I try to give a reason for why it makes sense for me to speak here today I would say it’s because thinking about the future is what I do for a living. And this is a commencement. It’s a new beginning. As a technology investor, I invest in new beginnings. I believe in what hasn’t yet been seen or been done.
你们大多数的年纪都在二十一二岁左右,就要开始进入职场了。我已经有21年没有为别人打工了。如果我非要总结出一个为什么我今天可以站在这里讲话的理由,我想说,因为我是靠思考未来而谋生的。这是一次毕业典礼,这也是一次新的开始。作为一名科技领域的投资人,我的工作就是投资于新的开始。对于那些人们从未见过或做到的事情,我有信心。

This is not what I set out to do when I began my career. When I was sitting where you are, back in 1989, I would’ve told you that I wanted to be a lawyer. I didn’t really know what lawyers do all day, but I knew they first had to go to law school, and school was familiar to me.
当年我的职业生涯刚开始的时候,这并不是我最初的想法。1989年,那时的我正坐在你们现在的位子上,我当时最想当的是律师。我并不确切地知道律师整天都要干些什么,但是我知道,他们首先要去法学院读书,而我对学校很熟悉。

I had been competitively tracked from middle school to high school to college, and by going straight to law school I knew I would be competing at the same kinds of tests I’d been taking ever since I was a kid, but I could tell everyone that I was now doing it for the sake of becoming a professional adult.
从初中、高中再到大学,我的成绩一直都不错。我知道,考入法学院后,面对的那些考试与我从小到大经历的考试大同小异,我依然会是一个佼佼者。但我知道,我在法学院参加考试的原因是为了成为一名成熟的职业人士。

I did well enough in law school to be hired by a big New York law firm, but it turned out to be a very strange place. From the outside, everybody wanted to get in; and from the inside, everybody wanted to get out.
我在法学院表现得也足够出色,毕业后我被纽约的一家大型律师事务所录取。然而它是一个奇怪的围城,外面的人想进去,里面的人想出来。

When I left the firm, after seven months and three days, my coworkers were surprised. One of them told me that he hadn’t known it was possible to escape from Alcatraz. Now that might sound odd, because all you had to do to escape was walk through the front door and not come back. But people really did find it very hard to leave, because so much of their identity was wrapped up in having won the competitions to get there in the first place.
只干了七个月零三天,我就离开了那家事务所,我的同事们都感到十分惊讶。其中一名同事告诉我,他从没想过居然有人可以“逃出恶魔岛”。这话可能听起来有些奇怪,因为如果你真的想走,你只需要走出大门不要回头就可以了。不过很多人的确发现那是一个难以脱身的地方,因为当他们杀败千军万马进入了那家公司以后,他们的身份就在相当程度上与它绑在了一起。

Just as I was leaving the law firm, I got an interview for a Supreme Court clerkship. This is sort of the top prize you can get as a lawyer. It was the absolute last stage of the competition. But I lost. At the time I was totally devastated. It seemed just like the end of the world.
就在我打算离开那家律师事务所的时候,我得到了一次美国最高法院书记员一职的面试机会。作为一名律师,这差不多算是中了头等奖了。它绝对是竞争的最高舞台。然而我失败了。当时我感到彻头彻尾的沮丧,似乎到了世界末日。

About a decade later, I ran into an old friend. Someone who had helped me prepare for the Supreme Court interview, whom I hadn’t seen in years. His first words to me were not, you know, “Hi Peter” or “How are you doing?” But rather, “So, aren’t you glad you didn’t get that clerkship?” Because if I hadn’t lost that last competition, we both knew that I never would have left the track laid down since middle school, I wouldn’t have moved to California and co-founded a startup, I wouldn’t have done anything new.
10年后,我遇到了一位老朋友,他曾经帮我准备过最高法院的面试,我已经很多年没见过他了。他见我的第一句话并不是“你好彼得”或是“最近过得怎样”之类的寒暄,而是问我:“你难道不为没得到那个书记员的职位感到庆幸么?”因为如果我不是在那次竞争中失利了,就不可能脱离从中学便开始铺好的道路,也不会搬到加州与人一起创办了一家初创公司,更不会开创任何新的事业。

Looking back at my ambition to become a lawyer, it looks less like a plan for the future and more like an alibi for the present. It was a way to explain to anyone who would ask—to my parents, to my peers, and most of all to myself—that there was no need to worry. I was perfectly on track. But it turned out in retrospect that my biggest problem was taking the track without thinking really hard about where it was going.
回想当年立志成为律师的雄心壮志,与其说它是我对未来的计划,不如说是为当下而找的借口。这样,如果任何人——比如我的父母、同学,最主要还是我自己——问我对未来有何打算时,我就可以用这个借口来解释,告诉他们不用担心,我在这条路上走得好着呢。然而回首往事,我当时最大的问题就是,我在走这条路的时候,并没有真正地认真思考过这条路究竟通向哪里。

When I co-founded a technology startup, we took the opposite approach. We consciously set out to change the direction of the world. Very definite, very big plans. Our goal was nothing less than to replace the U.S. dollar by creating a new digital currency.
当我与人共同创办了一家科技初创公司时,我们采取了一种截然相反的方法。我们有意地改变着整个世界的前进方向。我们的计划非常明确,非常庞大,目标就是要建立一种新的数字货币,并且用它来取代美元。

We had a young team. When we started, I was the only person over 23 years old. When we released our first product, the first users were simply the 24 people who worked at our company. Outside there were millions of people working in the global financial industry, and when we told some of them about our plans we noticed a clear pattern: the more experience someone had in banking, the more certain they were that our venture could never succeed.
当时我们的团队非常年轻。刚开始创业的时候,我是团队里唯一一个年龄超过23岁的人。我们发布第一款产品时,第一批用户仅仅是在我们公司工作的这24名员工。而出了我们这家小公司的门,在全球金融界谋生的人有数百万之多。当我们把自己的计划告诉其中一些人时,我们注意到一个明显的模式:一个人在银行业滚打的经验越丰富,他就愈发确信我们的业务绝不会成功。

They were wrong. People around the world now rely on PayPal to move more than $200 billion every year. We did fail at our greater goal. The dollar’s still dominant. We didn’t succeed in taking over the whole world, but we did create a successful company in the process. And more importantly we learned that, while doing new things is difficult, it is far from impossible.
他们错了。如今,全球每年通过PayPal完成的交易超过2000亿美元。我们的确还有一个更大的目标没能实现——美元仍然是当今世界的主导货币。我们没能成功占领全世界,然而在致力于占领世界的过程中,我们的确建立了一家成功的企业。更重要的是,我们终于明白,虽然做新事物是很难的,但它远非不可能。

At this moment in your life you know fewer limits, fewer taboos, and fewer fears than you will ever in the future. So do not squander your ignorance. Go out and do what your teachers and parents thought could not be done, and what they never thought of doing.
在人生的这一阶段,你们面临的限制、禁忌和恐惧也是人生中最少的阶段。所以不要浪费你们的无畏,要勇敢地走出去,做你们的老师和父母认为不可能做到的事,和他们从没想过的事。

Now this is not to say that we should assume there is no value in teaching and tradition. And here we can take inspiration from a graduate of Hamilton College, the illustrious Ezra Pound, class of 1905. Pound was a poet, and he was also a prophet of sorts, and he announced his mission in three words: “Make it new.” When Pound said “make it new,” he was talking about the old. He wanted to recover what was best in tradition, and render it fresh.
这并不是说,我们就该认为教育和传统是没有价值的。我们可以从汉密尔顿学院的一位毕业生、著名诗人艾兹拉•庞德的身上得到启发。他是1905届的学生,也是一位预言家,他称自己的使命只有三个单词:“Make it new(意为‘推陈出新’)。”当庞德追求“新”时,他是在与“陈”作比较。他想让传统中的精华焕发出新的活力。

Here at Hamilton, in America, and that part of the world called the West, we are all part of an unusual kind of tradition. The tradition we’ve inherited is itself about doing new things. The new science of Francis Bacon and Isaac Newton discovered truths that had never been written down in books. Our whole continent is a new world. The founders of this country set out to create what they called a new order for the ages. America is the frontier country. We are not true to our own tradition unless we seek what is new.
无论是汉密尔顿学院,还是美国,乃至整个西方世界,我们都身处一种不寻常的传统之中。我们所继承的这种传统,是创新的传统,是弗朗西斯•培根的新科学理论,是伊萨克•牛顿发现的那些之前从未被写进书里的真理。我们的整个大陆都是一个新世界。这个国家的开国之父们创立了他们所称的“时代的新秩序”。美国是一个前沿国家。如果我们不去探索什么是新,就是不忠于自己的传统。

So how are we doing? How much is new today? It is a cliché to say that we are living through a time of rapid change, but it is an open secret that the truth is closer to stagnation. Computers are getting faster and smartphones are somewhat new. But on the other hand, jets are slower, trains are breaking down, houses are expensive, and incomes are flat.
那么,我们的进展如何呢?今日又有多“新”?很多人说,我们正处于一个快速变革的时代。这种说法已经滥了。事实上,创新已经日趋停滞,这已经是一个公开的秘密了。如今,计算机的运行速度变得更快,智能手机也是一种比较新的东西了。而另一方面,飞机的速度变慢了,火车故障频发,房价高企,居民收入陷入停滞。

Today the word “technology” means information technology. The so-called tech industry builds computers and software. But in the 1960s, “technology” had a more expansive meaning and meant not just computers, but also airplanes, medicines, fertilizers, materials, space travel—all sorts of things. Technology was advancing on every front and leading to a world of underwater cities, vacations on the moon, and energy too cheap to meter.
今天,“科技”一词已经成了信息技术的代名词。所谓的“科技行业”主要造的就是电脑和软件。但在上世纪60年代,“科技”的外延更加广泛,并非只意味着计算机,还意味着飞机、机械、化肥、材料、太空旅行等各种各样的事物。那时方方面面的技术都在进步,带领着整个世界向水下城市、探月旅行等方向发展,能源价格也极为便宜。

We’ve all heard America described as a developed country, setting it apart from countries that are still developing. This description pretends to be neutral. But I find it far from neutral. Because it suggests that our tradition of making new things is over. When we say we are developed, we’re saying, “That’s it.” That for us, history is over. We are saying that everything there is to do has already been done, and now the only thing left is for others in the world to catch up. And in this view, the 1960s vision of a fantastic and far better future was just a mistake.
我们都听说过,美国是所谓的发达国家,和发展中国家是不同的。这种描述貌似是中立的,但我发现它其实远非中立。因为它表明我们创造新事物的传统已经结束了。当我们说我们是发达国家时,我们的意思其实是:“我们已经完成了发展。”好像对我们来说,历史已经结束了,每一件要做的事都做完了,唯一要做的事就是等世界上的其他国家赶上来。从这个角度来看,上世纪60年代,人们对未来那美好多姿的畅想其实是错误的。

I think we should strongly refuse this temptation to assume that our history is over. Of course if we choose to believe that we’re powerless to do anything that is not familiar, we will be right, but only in a sort of self-fulfilling way. We should not, however, blame nature. It will only be our own fault.
我认为,我们要强烈反对那种认为我们的历史已经结束的倾向。当然,如果我们认为,我们没有能力做成任何我们不熟悉的事,这样悲观的预期也一定会应验。但我们不应怨天尤人,这只能是我们自己的错。

Familiar tracks and traditions are like clichés—they are everywhere, they may sometimes be correct, but often they are justified by nothing except constant repetition. Let me end today by questioning two clichés in particular.
熟悉的路径和传统就像陈辞滥调一样——它们到处都是。有的时候它们可能是正确的,然而更多的时候,它们只是被不断重复,却没有什么证据能证明它们的正确性。在今天演讲的最后,请允许我对两句陈辞滥调提出质疑。

The first comes from Shakespeare who wrote this well-known piece of advice: “To thine own self be true.” Now Shakespeare wrote that, but he didn’t say it. He put it in the mouth of a character named Polonius, who Hamlet accurately describes as a tedious old fool, even though Polonius was senior counselor to the King of Denmark.
第一句是莎士比亚的名言:“对自我要诚实(To thine own self be true)。”这句话出自莎翁笔下,却不是由他直接说出来,而是借其笔下的人物波洛尼厄斯之口说出来的。哈姆雷特准确地将其描述为一个无聊的老傻瓜,虽然波洛尼厄斯是丹麦国王的高级顾问。

And so, in reality, Shakespeare is telling us two things. First, do not be true to yourself. How do you know you even have such a thing as a self? Your self might be motivated by competition with others, like I was. You need to discipline your self, to cultivate it and care for it. Not to follow it blindly. Second, Shakespeare’s saying that you should be skeptical of advice, even from your elders. Polonius is a father speaking to his daughter, but his advice is terrible. Here Shakespeare’s a faithful example of our western tradition, which does not honor what is merely inherited.
所以说,在现实中,莎翁教给了我们两件事。第一,不要对自我诚实。你怎么知道你还有“自我”这么个东西呢?就和我一样,你的“自我”可能是在与其他人的竞争中被激发起来的。所以说你需要约束你的自我,去培养它、呵护它,而不是盲从于它。第二,莎翁是说,你应该对别人的意见保持清醒头脑,哪怕这些意见来自长辈们。在《哈姆雷特》中,波洛尼厄斯可谓对女儿循循善诱,但他的意见却十分糟糕。在西方传统中,人们不是盲目地崇古——莎翁此作就是诠释这一传统的极佳例子。

The other cliché goes like this: “Live each day as if it were your last.” The best way to take this as advice is to do exactly the opposite. Live each day as if you will live forever. That means, first and foremost, that you should treat the people around you as if they too will be around for a very long time to come. The choices that you make today matter, because their consequences will grow greater and greater.
另一句说滥了的老话是“把每天都当成人生的最后一天来活。”这个建议最好反过来听:“把每天都当成你会永生一样活。”也就是说,最重要的是,对身边的人,要像他们永远不会离去一样对待他们。你在今天做出的选择是很重要的,因为它们产生的影响会越来越大。

That is what Einstein was getting at when he supposedly said that compound interest is the most powerful force in the universe. This isn’t just about finance or money, but it’s about the idea that you’ll get the best returns in life from investing your time in building durable friendships and long-lasting relationships.
这就是为什么爱因斯坦说:“复利是宇宙间最强大的力量。”这里的复利并非指金融或金钱,而是指如果你投入时间用于建立可靠和长久的友谊,你就将得到最好的回报。

In one sense, all of you are here today because you were approved by the admissions office of Hamilton to pursue a course of study, which is now over. In another sense you are here because you found a group of friends to sustain you along the way, and those friendships will continue. If you take care of them, they will compound in the years ahead.
从某种意义上说,你们之所以今天会坐在这里,是因为你们曾被汉密尔顿学院批准在这里学习一套课程,而这套课程现在已经结束了。从另一层意义来说,你们今天之所以坐在这里,是因为你们找到了一群能在人生道路上给予你们支持和帮助的朋友,而且这种友谊还会继续。如果你能好好培养你们的友谊,它也会在未来的岁月里给你带来“复利”。

Everything that you have done so far has had some kind of formal ending, some kind of graduation. You should, and I hope that you will, take time today to celebrate all that you’ve achieved so far. But remember that today’s commencement is not the beginning of one more thing that will end. It is the beginning of forever. And I won’t delay you any further in getting on with it. Thank you.
你们到目前为止所做的每一件事,都已经达到了某种正式的结束和完成。你们应该——同时我也希望——你们今天能尽情享受你们已经取得的成就。但你们要记住,今天的毕业典礼并不是另一件将会结束的事情的开始,而是开启了一段永远之路。我就不再耽搁你们踏上这段旅程了。谢谢。