Brain Food – No. 540 – September 3, 2023
Timeless ideas and insights for life. (Read the archives).
The Difference Between Open-Minded and Closed-Minded People:
How you respond to anomalies is a good indicator of your open-mindedness. Anomalies are like a glitch in the matrix. You can identify these moments when you find something surprising, missing, or strange. Anomalies indicate the world doesn’t work the way you thought it did. These moments can be worth their weight in gold if you pay attention. Closed-minded people tend to ignore or gloss over anomalies. Open-minded people want to dive in and understand. Of course, diving in is hard as it may require you to discard your ideas and beliefs.
“Cynicism masquerades as wisdom, but it is the furthest thing from it.”
— Stephen Colbert
“‘Give yourself a lot of shots to get lucky’ is even better advice than it appears on the surface. Luck isn’t an independent variable but increases super-linearly with more surface area—you meet more people, make more connections between new ideas, learn patterns, etc.”
— Sam Altman
Focusing on what matters requires continuous effort.
There is always something calling for your attention, pulling you away from what matters. It might be a grammar mistake begging to be corrected, an expectation put on you by someone else, or even the gas station across town that’s a few cents cheaper. Individually, none of these things really distract you much, but as days turn to weeks, they become an anchor.
It’s easy to overestimate the importance of winning the moment and underestimate how it can cost you the ultimate goal.
It’s a daily battle to focus on your ultimate goal, not the quick wins that lead to nowhere you want to go.
The surface area of luck increases if you get more shots on goal, you’re well-positioned (changes in environment, ability to endure pain, etc.), you have a long time horizon, you have access to a network of successful people, and you mix curiosity, energy, and integrity.
Beware the Metagame:
“The more abstract a subject is, the easier it is to reason about and therefore make progress on. That’s why we’ve made a lot more progress in math and physics than any other subject.”
Thanks for reading,
P.S. This classic plane is stunning.