No. 463 — March 13, 2022
Welcome to Sunday Brain Food: a weekly newsletter full of timeless ideas and insights for life and business.
(Was this shared with you? Sign up here.)
Thought experiments are a classic tool used by many great thinkers. They enable us to explore impossible situations and predict their implications and outcomes. Mastering thought experiments can help you confront difficult questions and anticipate (and prevent) problems.
“When I was a brand-new lieutenant, I asked my father, “How would I know if somebody that I worked for or worked for me was going to be a good commander in combat? … How would you tell in peacetime?” He says, “You won’t. You won’t know because people have capabilities or coping mechanisms that in peacetime look fine, that doesn’t play well in war.” Then I asked him, “Okay, when you’re in combat, how do you know?” He said, “Some people keep asking for more information and what they’re trying to do is drive uncertainty to zero so that there’s really not a question on the right course of action because you know everything.” But you can’t do that. It’s not achievable. So they become hesitant. They become tentative, and they become focused on getting more and more information to ratchet the uncertainty out of the situation and they don’t act.”
→ I sat down with Ret. Four-Star General Stanley McChrystal to discuss what he’s learned about risk, decision-making under uncertainty, and leadership. Listen to this episode on FS (with show notes), Apple Podcasts, Spotify, watch on YouTube, or read the transcript.
“(There is a) remarkable asymmetry between the ways our mind treats information that is currently available and information we do not have. An essential design feature of the associative machine is that it represents only activated ideas. Information that is not retrieved (even unconsciously) from memory might as well not exist. System 1 excels at constructing the best possible story that incorporates ideas currently activated, but it does not (cannot) allow for information it does not have.”— Daniel Kahneman
(Pair with this Kahneman podcast).
What appears to be luck is often preparation and patience.
Mastering your circumstances starts with being advantageously positioned.
(Share this Tiny Thought on Twitter)
Explore Your Curiosity
“That’s critical because what it tells us is, if you can get yourself to do it — to meditate, to volunteer, to engage with social connection — you will be happier. It’s just much easier if you have a cultural apparatus around you.”
“I would like to point out the importance of chasing your own dreams. You must live with whoever you become, and those around you have to live with that. It’s important to be who you want to be, and not what others want you to be.”
P.S. Photos of Owls.