No. 496 — October 30, 2022
Brain Food is a weekly newsletter with the insights you need.
Reversible and Irreversible Decisions:
Reversible decisions are doors that open both ways. Irreversible decisions are doors that allow passage in only one direction; if you walk through, you are stuck there. Most decisions are the former and can be reversed (even though we can never recover the invested time and resources).
Insight Episodes unite past guests around a single theme. In this episode, listen to Tobi Lutke, Patrick Collison, Annie Duke, Ventakesh Rao, and Maria Konnikov explore making better decisions.
“I place more value on decision speed. If you can make twice as many decisions at half the precision, that’s actually often better. And then, given the fact that the rate of improvement of decision-making with additional time almost necessarily tends to flatten out, I think that most people should be operating earlier in that curve.
Make more decisions with less confidence but in significantly less time. And just recognize that in most cases, you can course-correct and treat fast decisions as a kind of asset and capability in their own right. It’s quite striking to me how some of the organizations that I hold in the highest regard tend to do this. The second thing is to not treat all decisions uniformly. I think the most obvious axis to break them down on are degree of reversibility and magnitude. Things with low reversibility and great impact and magnitude, those ones you do want to really deliberate over and try to get right.”
Laurie Deschene on moving forward:
“Even if you’ve made choices you wouldn’t make based on what you know now, you don’t deserve to feel inadequate, ashamed, unworthy, or inferior to anyone else. You don’t deserve the anguish of beating yourself up over the past, or the insatiable emptiness that comes from believing you’re fundamentally lacking. No matter where you’ve been, you deserve the opportunity to go where you’re going, less burdened by your own mind.”
Short-term easy is long-term hard. Short-term hard is long-term easy.
I was reminded of this when one of my kids came home with a grade that wasn’t up to his standards. Rather than look at the feedback and dive in, he said, “oh, I understand it now.”
I called his bluff. When I asked him to “explain it to me” because I didn’t understand it, he stalled. He didn’t understand. This lesson isn’t just for kids.
We’d rather do the easy thing than the hard thing. That’s natural and normal. I call this the mountain. You can climb it, or you can avoid it, but it’s not going away. There is always a mountain. There is always something in front of us that we know we should do, but it just seems so … hard.
On any given day, we can avoid the climb. We can stand at the bottom, look up, and say, “I’ll wait. Hopefully, the mountain isn’t here tomorrow.” But we all know the mountain is still there tomorrow. And instead of looking smaller, it’s even larger.
When I talked to Jerzy Gregorek about the mountain, he said. “Easy decisions, hard life. Hard decisions, easy life.”
The easy path today makes a hard path tomorrow. The hard path today makes an easier path tomorrow.
The choice is yours, but the mountain isn’t going away. The longer you put off the hard thing you know you need to do, the harder it becomes to get started.
The climb is the fun part.
Warren Buffett, in a rare 1972 letter on creating a brand:
“People are going to be affected not only by how our candy tastes, but obviously, by what they hear about it from others as well as the “retailing environment” in which it appears. The latter includes the class of store, the method of packaging, the condition in which it appears, and the surrounding merchandise. Just as the New Yorker creates a different “editorial environment” for a Lord & Taylor ad than does the Village Voice, so do the surroundings in which our candy is offered affect potential customers’ mental – and even gastronomical – impression of our quality. …. It should be very hard to get, available only periodically, and then (to the consumer) apparently only in limited quantities.”
You can’t just sit around waiting for the answers:
“Young lawyers frequently come to me and say, ‘How can I quit practicing law and become a billionaire instead?’ I say, well, it reminds me of a story they tell about Mozart.
A young man came to him, and he said, ‘I want to compose symphonies. I want to talk to you about that.’
Mozart said, ‘How old are you?’ ‘Twenty-two.’
And Mozart said, ‘You’re too young to do symphonies.’
And the guy says, ‘But you were writing symphonies when you were ten years old.’
He says, ‘Yes, but I wasn’t running around asking other people how to do it.’”
P.P.S. Leverage makes a terrible master but an excellent servant. (Tweet this.)