Getting the World to Do the Work for You

“What the pupil must learn, if he learns anything at all, is that the world will do most of the work for you, provided you cooperate with it by identifying how it really works and aligning with those realities. If we do not let the world teach us, it teaches us a lesson.”

— Joseph Tussman

The key to getting what you want out of life is to identify how the world works and align yourself accordingly. The problem is we often think the world should work differently than it does. The word “should” is important. Because we think the world should work in a way that it doesn’t, our approach is suboptimal.

Why don’t we align ourselves with reality?

Part of the answer is we don’t listen to the feedback of reality. When we don’t get the outcome we’re seeking, the last place we look is with our actions. It’s too easy to wiggle out of responsibility by blaming others and circumstances. It’s not that this approach is entirely ineffective. We eventually get the job half done in twice the time. The person working with the world, however, gets the job fully done in half the time.

The most common source of feedback is people not reality. One problem with feedback from people is that it’s hard to give someone else high quality feedback. Think about it. People will tell you a few helpful things but they’ll often avoid the big thing that’s holding you back. They don’t want to hurt your feelings. They want you to like them. That’s not the biggest problem. The biggest problem is that people rarely know much more than you do. If they had all the answers, they’d get better results.

Another form of people feedback comes from groups, institutions, and society. This is the way things have been done. And while there might be good reason for doing things the same way they’ve always been done, if you take your feedback from these folks, you’ll incrementally improve what’s already exists rather than use first principles to design something new.  If exiting institutions knew what they were doing, we wouldn’t have startups or bankruptcy lawyers.

How do we identify how the world really works?

Outcome over ego.  You are accountable for your outcomes. When you take responsibility for your outcomes you get feedback from reality. When you get feedback from reality, you adjust your behavior.

FS is an exploration of timeless insights that you can apply at work and business for better results. We don’t cherry pick from one discipline because the world is multidisciplinary.


Still Curious? Pair with Andy Benoit’s wisdom and make some time to think about them.