Brain Food – No. 549 – November 5th, 2023
Timeless ideas and insights for life. (Read the archives).
“A large part of the difference between the experienced decision maker and the novice in these situations is not any particular intangible like judgment or intuition. If one could open the lid, so to speak, and see what was in the head of the experienced decision-maker, one would find that he had at his disposal repertoires of possible actions, that he had checklists of things to think about before he acted; and that he had mechanisms in his mind to evoke these, and bring these to his conscious attention when the situations for decisions arose.”
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“The truly free individual is free only to the extent of his own self-mastery. While those who will not govern themselves are condemned to find masters to govern over them.”
— Steven Pressfield, The War of Art
“One of the most important things I didn’t understand about the world when I was a child is the degree to which the returns for performance are superlinear.
Teachers and coaches implicitly told us the returns were linear. “You get out,” I heard a thousand times, “what you put in.” They meant well, but this is rarely true. If your product is only half as good as your competitor’s, you don’t get half as many customers. You get no customers, and you go out of business.
It’s obviously true that the returns for performance are superlinear in business. Some think this is a flaw of capitalism, and that if we changed the rules it would stop being true. But superlinear returns for performance are a feature of the world, not an artifact of rules we’ve invented. We see the same pattern in fame, power, military victories, knowledge, and even benefit to humanity. In all of these, the rich get richer.
You can’t understand the world without understanding the concept of superlinear returns. And if you’re ambitious you definitely should, because this will be the wave you surf on.”
— Paul Graham, Superlinear Returns
Before you work harder on something, identify the leverage point.
Working smarter is the most valuable form of working harder.
Too often, the people we ask for feedback are nice but not kind.
Kind people will tell you things a nice person will not. A kind person will tell you that you have spinach on your teeth. A nice person won’t because it’s uncomfortable.
A kind person will tell us what holds us back, even when it’s uncomfortable. A nice person avoids giving us critical feedback because they’re worried about hurting our feelings.
If you’re having trouble getting started, shorten the distance between where you are and where you focus.
Climbing Everest might be the ultimate goal, but people often talk themselves out of starting because the distance from where they are to where they want to go seems impossibly big.
Keep the goal but change the focus to the next step.
You can’t reach the top if you don’t start.
Thanks for reading,
P.S. Rocking horses. Really.