What if you had dozens of the world’s top experts giving you advice about how to improve your life? I’ve interviewed these experts and asked them for simple action items and easy first steps you can implement right now to create a big impact in your life. These are the top answers of over a hundred responses.Read More
Everything we do in life we do to decrease uncertainty — Beau Lotto
Your perception of the world, life, yourself and others affects each and every decision you have ever made, or ever will make. Neuroscientist Beau Lotto has devoted much of his work to understanding perception, creativity, biases, and much more. He is the author of the book Deviate, which reveals startling truths about the brain and it’s perceptions. Beau argues that the next big innovation in the world is not a new technology, but rather a new way of seeing.
For A Deep Dive on Your Most Common Biases Check Out — http://www.successpodcast.com/weaponsofinfluence
Uncertainty of what your brain is receiving can lead to extreme consequences. Let’s take a simple example from Beau…
When you go down below in a boat and your eyes are moving and registering the boat, and your eyes are saying, “Oh, we’re standing still,” but your inner ears are saying, “No, no, we’re moving.” And your brain cannot deal with that conflict so it gets ill. — Beau Lotto
While getting a little seasick is not the end of the world the consequences of too much uncertainty can be tremendous. Too much uncertainty increases brain cell death. It decreases plasticity in the brain and transforms you into a more extreme version of yourself.
Think back to a time when you had to deal with extreme uncertainty. Was this a pleasant experience? Oftentimes when we are making extreme changes to our lives such as changing careers, moving to a new place, trying something potentially dangerous for the first time we see a drop in our health and mental state. This is because our brains are deeply wired to avoid this type of uncertainty at every turn.
Every minute of every day we are making hundreds of assumptions, which helps us mentally avoid uncertainty. As I type this I assume the chair I am sitting on will not give way and leave me sprawled out on the floor. I assume the desk in front of me was assembled correctly, I assume the keyboard on which I am typing will continue to work, and so on and so forth.
These assumptions are absolutely critical to our survival. Can you imagine what a nervous wreck we’d be if I stopped to make sure my chair was sturdy each minute. First of all I’d never finish writing this article but even worse I would most likely worry myself into no longer using this chair, checking the screws on my desk, and monitoring the battery life of my keyboard.
However, these assumptions can largely be a double edged sword themselves. Our brains are wired to take what is meaningless and assign it meaning. Look at the flip side, in the early development of human beings if I assumed that rustling sound was not a predator and it turned out to be a panther… it’s too late. I’m dead. Taking this information and all the inputs around you and assigning them meaning is the process of creating your own perceptions. The key is to be able to determine what can be assumed and what it worth checking out and worrying about.
Here’s the kicker.
If we do everything to avoid uncertainty, how will we ever see anything differently?
We do almost everything to avoid uncertainty. And yet the irony is that that’s the only place we can go if we’re ever going to see differently. — Beau Lotto
How would we ever be creative if we never dared to venture into the uncertainty of life? How would we learn to perceive the world differently through new information if all we did was avoid uncertainty our entire lives. Creativity begins with a question, a hypothesis, it begins with a “why?” or a “what if?” all which come through uncertainty.
This is also why it’s an interesting reaction when people become mad at one another for “flip-flopping” their opinions. Too often, especially in politics, individuals are criticized for changing their opinions to reflect new facts, new evidence, and new information. But how can we ever hope to grow and draw new conclusions if we ignore the uncertainty of new facts and opinions.
The irony of uncertainty is that while we were undoubtably hardwired to avoid it, it holds the key to our growth and to our success. As we noted, too much uncertainty for too long a period can have drastic consequences for your health but avoiding it altogether leaves one walking in place.
We’ve interviewed some incredible guests on The Science of Success. From many walks of life including spy recruiters, astronauts, bestselling authors, and more. Across each of our guest’s from widely different fields, we see many overlapping mindsets, strategies, and practices for achieving goals and a more effective life.
We’d like to share with you some of these mindset and strategies to help you achieve your goals. Whatever they may be…
Focus On Your Health
Psychology Secrets of Extreme Athletes, NFL Teams, & The World’s Top Performer with Dr. Michael Gervais — Dr.Michael Gervais has spent years and countless hours in the trenches with high performers. From Red Bull athletes and The Seattle Seahawks to everyday civilians, Gervais has been able to unlock the true potential of his clients by utilizing the psychology of high performance.
What’s Life’s Biggest Trap We Fall Into? — In Matt Bodnar’s widely popular and upvoted Quora answer he takes us through some of the biggest traps people fall into in life and how we can avoid each to get out of our own way in 2018.
The Skeptic’s Guide To Meditation with Dan Harris — Learn more about meditation and the science behind the practice. Dan Harris takes you through his personal journey (including a panic attack live on air) that led him to pursue meditation and report of the science behind the sometimes “woo woo” reputation.
The Neuroscience Behind Building A Sustainable Healthy Lifestyle with Foodist Darya Rose — Sticking to a diet plan can be very, very hard. Darya Rose takes us through how we can set the right physical health goals and use neuroscience to actually stick to them.
Overcome Your Fears
How Do You Become Mentally Strong? — In this Medium article Matt Bodnar take us through an incredible framework for developing mental toughness. Compiling and exploring some of the most validated strategies and tactics to push yourself and grow.
How This Astronaut Survived Going Blind In Space & Tools For Crushing Fear with Chris Hadfield — Chris Hadfield is one of the most decorated astronauts in history. On his first spacewalk he went momentarily blind and was able to remain calm and complete his mission. Chris takes us through some practical knowledge for overcoming irrational fears and accepting others.
Your Secret Weapon To Becoming Fearless with Jia Jiang — Most people actively will avoid rejection. How is this fear holding you back? Jia decided to actively seek rejection each day for 100 days and while his journey is very entertaining, the results he saw were very impactful.
Master Your Emotions
Discover Your Hidden Emotional Insights and What’s Truly Valuable to You with Dr. Susan David — Your emotions are there to communicate through your subconscious. By using Dr.Susan David’s framework and research you can begin to learn how listening to these emotions and using them as a compass can help you make peace with them and achieve more.
The Mental Tools Olympians, Traders, and Top Performers Use To Make High Pressure Decisions with Denise Shull — Denise Shull was the inspiration for Wendy Rhodes character on the Showtime show Billions. She’s coached countless high performers through high pressure situations by using their emotions and inner working to guide them. Find out how!
Get What You Want
Simple Strategies You Can Use To Get Anything You Want with The Godfather of Influence Dr. Robert Cialdini — Dr.Cialdini has been doing incredible work on the art of influence for years. Most recently he unveiled a researched backed tactic that you can begin to use today to help you influence anyone and make a great first impression.
How To Use Influence Tactics Like an FBI Agent — In this article from SUCCESS Magazine we highlight some of the key takeaways from all the military influence experts we’ve interviewed. Everyone from hostage negotiators to FBI Spy recruiters. Learn how you can begin to influence like a secret agent today!
Connect With Others
Never Eat Alone — How Relationship Expert Keith Ferrazzi Built His World Class Network — Keith Ferrazzi literally wrote the book on networking. Through his work and research in relationship building, Keith has identified mindsets and frameworks that you should apply to every interaction and relationship.
Proven Practices for Building The Ultimate Competitive Advantage with Todd Davis — Todd Davis is the Chief People Officer at Franklin Covey and wrote much of the company’s award-winning material. Todd takes us through several ways to build better relationships at work from all hierarchies and how to build the ultimate competitive advantage.
Build The Right Habits
Break Your Phone Addiction (and Your Other Bad Habits) with Charles Duhigg — Charles Duhigg is a Pulitzer Prize winning author and has devoted much of his life and work to discovering why we do the things we do. Specifically how our habits and routines can affect our lives for the better and for the worse. Learn how we can become the masters of our own habits today!
How You Can Use Behavior Design To Create any Habit You Want with Nir Eyal — Nir Eyal has worked with hundreds of companies to make their products more habit forming. From video games themselves to products that pull you back in such as Facebook and Instagram it’s all by design and has Nir’s fingerprints or framework all over it. Learn how you can use Nir’s framework to break your cycle and create the habits you want!
There’s an age-old debate between the right brain, the left brain and whether or not we are able to use both evenly. After completely losing the function of the left side of her brain in an unexpected stroke, Harvard-trained neuroanatomist, Dr. Jill Taylor, stumbled upon new insight on our ability to strengthen both sides.
Dr. Jill is the best-selling author of her memoir My Stroke of Insight, which recounts her experience in recovery after a severe stroke left her unable to walk, read, write or recall any of her life. Her iconic TED Talk has been viewed over 22 million times and her work has been featured all over the globe from Oprah, to The New York Times and much more.
In a recent interview on The Science of Success, Dr. Jill explains how we can create a balance between the right and left side of our brain. She says that the first and most important step in learning how to control both sides of your brain, is understanding the role each one has in your everyday life.
The Right Side
Think of the right side as your big picture thinker. The right side enjoys open schedules, freedom to explore and opportunities to innovate. The right side doesn’t like being confined, put in a box or sitting in a cubicle. Your right brain is what creates humor and wit. It’s open to new possibilities and enjoys being creative. The right side values the good of the whole community and is energized by helping others.
The Left Side
The left side brain is the detail-oriented thinker. This is the part of our brain that allows us to function in the real world. It keeps us organized and focused. The left brain is great at numbers and mechanics, and some would call it a perfectionist. The left brain values family, relationships, personal strengths and weaknesses, and is very focused on the details of who you are as a person.
Whole Brain Thinking
While most people tend to lean heavily towards one side or the other, there is a way to achieve whole brain thinking. Whole brain thinking is the perfect balance of the two and “in that blending together, comes a level of satisfaction,” — Dr. Jill on The Science of Success.
Exercising Your Weaker Side
Think about the cells in your brain like bicep muscles in your arms. If you only ever do bicep curls on your right arm, it will grow much larger and stronger than your left. If you start doing more curls on your left arm, eventually it will catch up and both arms will be even in strength. This concept is the same for the two different sides of your brain; the side you flex more will be dominant over the other.
The first step is thinking about and recognizing who you are and how you’re spending your time. Acknowledge which side of the brain you use day to day without even thinking about it.
Next, find some activities you might enjoy that will use the weaker side of your brain. Find people that are using the side you’re trying to strengthen, spend time with them and start doing some of the things that they do. What’s important here, is getting in the habit of exercising your weaker side.
One of the biggest factors in achieving whole brain thinking is to understanding that you get to choose, moment by moment, which side you step into and use.
“I think as we pay attention to what we are already doing and pay attention to what our own personal patterning is, we find the power to choose and we recognize when we have chosen,” — Dr. Jill on The Science of Success.
This skill of learning to observe and thus control your own brain can be used for other things as well. Dr. Jill suggests using this consciousness to turn around negative situations. In a moment of crisis, sadness or negativity, Dr. Jill recommends taking a step back and observing the reality in front of you, instead of engaging with your emotions about the events taking place. In other words, step out of your left brain and into your right.
“I don’t take myself that seriously. I don’t take any of this really seriously. Yet, at the same time, I take it all extremely seriously, because I’m here, I’m alive, I value life…because life to me is a precious and amazing thing,” — Dr. Jill on The Science of Success.
Dr. Jill offers many tactical actions that you can implement in your life immediately in order to gain control over your whole brain. She suggests taking one hour and writing down everything you think of. Look back at your notes and determine whether you were more focused on small details or the big picture. Use this exercise to determine your standard or base level brain usage. From there, decide which circuitry, the right or the left, you need to run more of to even out the two sides of your brain.
There is no one more credible to offer this advice than Dr. Jill; someone who has not only studied neuroanatomy at the highest level, but who has experienced losing an entire part of her brain and having to regain it step by step.
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As Wharton’s top-rated professor for the past six years running, Dr. Adam Grant knows a thing or two about what it takes to succeed. He’s one of the world’s 10 most influential management speakers, the best-selling author of Give & Take, Originals and Option B and a member of Fortune’s 40 under 40.
In a recent interview, Adam shared with The Science of Success’s Matt Bodnarthe most impactful secrets to success, starting with self-awareness. In the world of self-awareness there’s a lot of talk about recognizing one’s own strengths and weaknesses. Dr. Grant argues, however, that it’s more beneficial and reliable to trust those around you to identify these weaknesses and not rely on your own (biased) soul searching.
Why Is It So Difficult To Be Self-Aware?
According to Dr. Grant, there are two main challenges when it comes to developing self-awareness. First, there are your own blind spots. These are shortcomings that the people around us can easily see, but that we might have a hard time identifying ourselves. As humans, we’re typically better at focusing on how we think we look, versus how others most likely see us. Our blind spots only become visible to us when we solicit outside feedback. When we understand how others view us in the world, it’s easier to change our behaviors and expectations.
We also must face our internal personal bias. Biases include the negative aspects of ourselves that we don’t want to see. For many, it can be easy to see ourselves in our own personal spotlight, as the hero of our own journey, which can lead to overconfidence.
“I think the big lesson here is that any time a trait is easy for other people to see or hard for us to admit, we can’t trust our own judgment of it,” — Adam Grant on The Science of Success
How We Overcome These Challenges
The good news is that these hurdles to becoming more self aware can be overcome. Dr. Grant’s solution is developing two networks of people; a support network and a challenge network.
Build a support network filled with people that you can count on to bring you up when you’re down. These should be the people you trust, those that will always give compliments and increase your confidence.
Your challenge network should be the people who will tell you that you’re not quite where you need to be. These are the people that will push you because they care about helping you get better.
“So if in the last six months somebody has given you really harsh feedback, you’ve probably done everything in your power to drop them from your life. In the short run, that might feel good, it might help with your motivation, but it destroys your opportunity to learn. I think we all need to embrace that challenge network if we want to reach our potential,” — Adam Grant on The Science of Success
When Asked, Be A Graceful Challenger
Many believe the “compliment sandwich,” is a good way to give feedback. This is when you offer criticism in between two compliments in order to lessen the blow. People mistakenly think this is the best way to offer negative feedback, but Grant argues this method only makes it harder for the receiver.
So if you find yourself a part of someone else’s challenge network follow this framework instead. Affirm a skill, value or achievement from one area then give your negative feedback in another. The idea is that you never want to give praise and criticism at the same time for the same project, piece of work or idea. This only serves to delude your feedback all together.
If you want to soften the blow of hard feedback praise something unrelated the receiver has done and start the conversation out in a positive light. Then change the subject to the project at hand and deliver your unbiased feedback. After all, you’re in someone’s challenge network because they trust you to push them. Give them what they expect.
Embrace The Devil’s Advocate
In every situation, business meeting, discussion, etc., make sure there is one person who genuinely disagrees with the majority opinion. It’s important that this person is not just playing a role, but truly has different ideas than the rest of the group. This person should be given the opportunity to argue passionately about their viewpoint thus stimulating divergent thinking. If done properly, the group will be more likely to reevaluate the situation on the table, gather new information, update their criteria and make a better decision in the end.
Make it known that no employee or partner has the right to withhold a critical opinion. Dr. Grant emphasizes the importance of creating a space and culture where dissenting ideas are encouraged. Everyone at the office should feel comfortable speaking up for his or her opinion no matter how different it is from the boss or from the group.
“Personality traits don’t predict behavior. Different ifs activate different thens.” — Adam Grant on The Science of Success
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His accomplishments in the markets have made him one of the wealthiest American’s today. But if you begin to dive deeper you realize that’s not what makes Ray so special…
At The Science of Success, we obsess over Evidence Based Growth and learning what makes peak performers and titans of their crafts tick. Through examining their lives and work, we can take years of their experiences and research and apply what they’ve learned to our own lives. Thus, leading happier, healthier, and (hopefully) wealthier lives.
So… what makes Ray Dalio so special?
For the sake of the rest of this article let’s go ahead and knock out the obvious. Ray started and continues to grow the world’s largest hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates. Bridgewater currently has over $160 Billion (with a B!) worth of assets under management.
This has lead to Ray himself amassing a net worth of over $17.7 Billion. This amount of wealth and drive obviously make him a “special” person in business. He has attained a status and created a life that most can only dream about, filled with the things many only ever see on their vision boards.
As with most incredible individuals and stories, this is just the WHAT of the situation. The HOW and the WHY behind Ray’s journey. The way he continues to approach life and the lessons he’s learned (and is still learning) is what makes him truly unique.
His First Job
Ray was born the only child of a jazz musician and a homemaker in Jackson Heights, Queens in 1949. Ray notes that at a young age, he was a terrible student and struggled in school.
“I was a bad student. I have a bad rote memory , and I didn’t like studying.” — Ray Dalio
Like many geniuses of their time who did not thrive in a classroom setting, Ray found other ways to contribute, learn, and make money. From the age of 12, he caddied at a local golf club near his home that was frequented by Wall Street investors. By listening to their tips and conversations Ray was able to begin learning about the stock market and made his first purchase of stock ever, investing in Northeastern Airlines.
Shortly after, Northeastern Airlines was taken over by another company and Ray saw his investment triple. What makes Ray’s beginnings unique is that despite not thriving within the traditional framework of education, he was able to find another way to absorb information. Continuing to learn about things that interested him, and put these learnings into action.
We see this time and again with several great young minds. Unable or unwilling to work within the confines of a traditional education, they find other ways to learn.
The golf course was near his childhood home, lucky. Those who frequented the course exposed him to Wall Street, lucky. Being taken under Donald Scott’s wing, lucky. However, all of this “luck” would have never come about had Ray not continued to work, put himself out there, and explore possibilities with an open mind, despite his poor rote memory and initial distaste for school.
Ray is very open about practicing mindfulness and it’s critical importance within his life. Most notably, Ray is an avid meditator and practices Transcendental Meditation which according to legend, he picked up after the Beatles visited India.
Meditation, more than any other factor, has been the reason for what success I’ve had — Ray Dalio
Ray practices meditation most mornings before heading into the office and follows his own technique…
“It’s just a mental exercise in which you are clearing your mind. Creativity comes from open-mindedness and centeredness — seeing things in a non-emotionally charged way.” — Ray Dalio
Not only does Ray practice Transcendental Meditation himself but he encourages his employees to incorporate the practice into their lives as well. Many claim his business and culture is built up of “intellectual NAVY SEALs”and he believes that Transcendental Meditation provides an effective balance to that drive and hard nosed determination.
If you’d like to put the power of Transcendental Meditation to the test yourself, here’s a guide to getting started, as well as an interview with Dan Harris who explains his method and his initial skepticism around the practice of meditation all together.
Removing His Ego
I imagine it must be hard to keep your ego in check as a billionaire. I’m also in no way saying that Ray, for his entire life, has had no ego. In the past there have been several stories of outlandish (yet always passionate) behavior. Including punching a former boss in the face over an argument.
On New Year’s Eve in 1974, Dalio went out drinking with his departmental boss, got into a disagreement, and slugged him…After being fired, he persuaded some of his clients to hire him as a consultant and founded Bridgewater, operating it out of his two-bedroom apartment. He was twenty-six years old. — John Cassidy, The New Yorker
While the story sounds a lot like something from a C+ Hollywood satire of the typical corporate office party with an open bar…it happens. We all act out and get cocky at times. You, me, and billionaires alike. The key is that we continue to grow, learn and mature through life, and Ray has done all three in spades. Ray has even commented on a video of himself from the 80s saying…
"I look at that now, I think, “What an arrogant jerk!” — Ray Dalio, TED Stage
You see, there is a large difference between cockiness and confidence.
To scream from the mountaintop that you are the best and put others down simply for the sake of it, is ego and cockiness. To be sure of your position and be able to unapologetically defend it, that is confidence.
In fact, Ray has spent considerable time, money, and effort attempting to remove his ego from any and all decision making. At Bridgewater, each employee is subject to direct and completely unfiltered feedback, and Ray is no exception. A great example of this is in the email below Ray received from Jim Haskel…
Ray — you deserve a “D-” for your performance today in the meeting … you did not prepare at all because there is no way you could have and been that disorganized. In the future, I/we would ask you to take some time and prepare and maybe even I should come up and start talking to you to get you warmed up or something but we can’t let this happen again. If you in any way think my view is wrong, please ask the others or we can talk about it.
Now take a moment here and think. What would happen if you sent this kind of email to your boss? You might be fired, be asked to join your boss in a private meeting, you might even be escorted out of the building…but not at Bridgewater. Not only was Ray pleased with the feedback, he decided to share the email with all of his employees and again on the TED stage. The feedback did not pull any punches… and hey, that’s the idea.
In his book Principles we see another example of Ray removing his ego, personal life, and accomplishments from the principles he hopes to share. The 567 page book is made up of two parts. The first dives into Ray’s personal journey and the second is pure principles and teachings. In the first few pages he offers the reader an out and invitation to skip the portion related to himself…
I wouldn’t mind if you decided to skip this part of the book. If you do read it, try to look past me and my particular story to the logic and merit of the principles I describe. Think about them, weight them, and describe how much if at all they apply to you and your own life circumstances — and specifically, whether they can help you achieve your goals, whatever they may be. — Ray Dalio, Principles
Ray aims to provide the reader (you) with the value of his life and learnings, without having to hear his story. Which undoubtably takes a large amount of humility, especially in a book you took the time to write.
My painful mistakes shifted me from having a perspective of “I know I’m right” to having one of “How do I know I’m right?” — Ray Dalio
Removing your ego from your daily decision making can have incredible benefits on your daily life. Whether you systematize the process like Ray, or just make a conscious effort to remove your personal feelings about yourself from the situation you’ll notice the positive effects immediately.
Something truly unique about Ray’s approach to managing his business culture is the idea of “Radical Transparency.” The idea that everything everyone says, feels, or does, is open for honest feedback and evaluation.
Many praise this style of management as the way of the future, others liken it to a cult. One of the tools in fostering this culture was invented by Bridgewater themselves and is known as The Dot Collector.
Bridgewater employees carry iPads into every meeting; as their coworkers speak, they register real-time feedback, grading one another on such criteria as assertiveness and open-mindedness, creativity, and maintaining high standards.
Over time, all those data points reveal the collective wisdom of the group — and, the thinking goes, expose each employee’s strengths and weaknesses. At first, Dalio says, receiving such candid feedback can be difficult. But eventually, he says, it challenges you to detach from your own ego. “It forces you to recognize that you are just one of those dots,” he says, “and now you have to make a choice: Do you want to be stuck with your opinion, or go above it all? It’s an out-of-body experience.”
This data is then made available to everyone and shapes the weight of your opinion in making company decisions. This data is also used to match you with the right teams and the right projects. As noted, this process at first can be very painful for some. It’s a hard, no nonsense look at who you are, backed by the numbers.
What some may remember as “golden rules” are also adopted into everyday business practices, but not in the way you might expect. We all know that it’s generally not a great idea to talk about someone behind their back. Well, why not take that idea to new heights as well?
One rule of radical transparency is that Bridgewater employees refrain from saying behind a person’s back anything that they wouldn’t say to his face.
To some, this can be seen as too blunt or as a power move. But to hear Ray explain it, this simply allows everyone to know where they stand with everyone else. Growth in any meaningful form is often painful. In the end, everyone grows through radical transparency, even if at time’s it can be quite awkward.
Once a tape recorder had been switched on, Jensen, McCormick, and Dalio discussed the possible promotion of an internal candidate to a senior-management role. McCormick, a soft-spoken forty-five-year-old who studied engineering at West Point, argued that the candidate’s prior experience at a big Wall Street firm indicated that he could probably do the job. Dalio disagreed. An investment bank is a “totally different world,” he said. But, rather than continue the discussion, he asked one of his assistants to call in the candidate. One rule of radical transparency is that Bridgewater employees refrain from saying behind a person’s back anything that they wouldn’t say to his face.
The man arrived and stood before Dalio’s desk. Dalio explained what the discussion was about and said, “I don’t imagine that you would be a good fit for the job.” The man took a seat, and Dalio and McCormick continued their discussion about his qualifications. The candidate explained his experience on Wall Street and said he thought he could do the job well. Dalio leaned back in his chair, looking skeptical. The employee didn’t get the promotion.
Ray is also quick to point out that the culture of radical transparency is not for everyone. Around 1/3 of Bridgewater’s new hires leave the company in less than 18 months. Although, for those who accept the model and buy in wholeheartedly, it becomes a way of life.
One of the most beneficial consequences of radical transparency is a hard, unforgiving, uncompromising drive towards self-awareness. When you embrace the process and are open to the objective feedback you receive, you are forced to see yourself for what you are. This can be scary with a fixed mindset, however, with a growth mindset this can be one of the most enlightening revelations of your lifetime.
I recommend checking out The Secret Weapon of the 21st Century for more on cultivating self-awareness.
And why not embrace these ideas? A culture of radical transparency may be shocking to some but it also lets everyone know where they stand. People will also be much more careful with their words and actions when they know they will be open to the public. I think we would see a lot of the more common issues in the workplace (and the world at large) disappear if we had more radical transparency.
If you had to sum Ray Dalio up in a few words I think most would agree “Radical Transparency” would be the right fit.
Not The Hero We Wanted, But Maybe The One We Needed?
On several occasions, Ray has attempted to warn the United States government of upcoming crashes and less than sustainable programs. Certainly (and justifiably) the government must be skeptical and wary of such warnings, especially coming from someone involved in markets, potentially with something to gain. However, Ray has been correct on several occasions including in 2007 before one of the largest market crashes in history…
Searching for historical precedents, Bridgewater put together detailed histories of previous credit crises, going back to Weimar Germany. The firm’s researchers also went through the public accounts of nearly all the major financial institutions in the world and constructed estimates of how much money they stood to lose from bad debts. The figure they came up with was eight hundred and thirty-nine billion dollars. Armed with this information, Dalio visited the Treasury Department in December, 2007, and met with some of Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson’s staff. Nobody took much notice of what he said, but he went on to the White House, where he presented his numbers to some senior economic staffers. “Ray laid out the argument that the losses he foresaw in the banking system were astronomical,” a former Bush Administration official who attended the White House meeting recalled. “Everybody else was talking about liquidity. Ray was talking about solvency.” His warnings ignored in Washington, Dalio issued more jeremiads to his clients. “If the economy goes down, it will not be a typical recession,” his newsletter said in January, 2008.
Pay attention to something here — in an effort to inform the appropriate powers Ray began with the Treasury Department, and didn’t stop. Despite the fact that he was largely ignored by the department, he continued his crusade to the White House.
Hedge fund managers weighing in on the inevitability of the ups and downs of the market is nothing new. It is however notable and commendable that such a continued effort was made to sound the alarm to those with the ability to attempt to change the circumstances.
He Gives it ALL Away
Perhaps one of the most incredible things about Ray Dalio and his principles is that he gives them away, largely for free. In recent months Ray has been on a mission to spread awareness not only of his book but of the culture and tools he has created in an effort to help others achieve their goals.
Below are a few of my favorite pieces of free content that will help you see things through the eyes of the world’s most successful hedge fund manager. These ideas, principles, and tools may even help you harness the Science of Success. God Speed.
Bridgewater’s Entire Research Library Is Open To The Public — Here you can look back at the various research and findings Ray and his team have made throughout the years. These are incredible resources for those interested in how the markets (and largely the world) work.
How The Economic Machine Works — This 30-minute video can provide you with more knowledge than most Econ. 101 classes could.
Want To Go Deeper On How The Economic Machine Works? — Ray provides these FREE tools and deeper explanations of every concept mentioned in the above video. Topics include long term and short term debt, leveraging, and much more!
Ray’s TED Talk — Gives you a real-time look at Ray’s past and present and how he goes about using the Dot Collector to make better decisions and weigh ideas.
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The ability to ask good questions is one of the most valuable tools in life. Not only do great questions lead to great podcast content but they also allow you to learn more completely from another’s experience.
The best questions to ask will depend on what the format of your show is. However, I’ve always shared these few pieces of advice to those we consult with at The Science of Success to help them keep things interesting.
Do Your Research Prior
This should go without saying but if someone is taking the time to come on your show, especially someone highly sought after, do your research ahead of time. What I mean by this is take the time to search their recent projects and interviews.
This allows you to pick up on topics and points that they typically hit during interviews. This can be a great way to decide what you want to hit on, and what you want to miss or gloss over. Say your guest told a story on a previous interview and after the story you had a follow up that the interviewer missed. Note the story, mention it in your interview then present your question.
This research allows you to get a feel for what they will want to talk about but more importantly also allows you to find something original to ask that has not been asked before and makes your content original and potentially newsworthy.
Ask Questions You Actually Care About
Remember to ask questions that you actually are interested in hearing the answer to. This does not mean you should ignore the central theme or project they are looking to push. (If they’re on your show you should be interested…right?) But find a way to put your spin, humor, thoughts, or insights into the phrasing or positioning of the questions.
Always stay engaged in the conversation. Nothing is worse than speaking to someone who you can tell is just waiting for their turn to speak. Likewise, most can tell when you are already planning your next question and have checked out during their answer.
Staying more engaged will come with experience as well. If you’re not comfortable on the mic yet it might be harder to stay present but shaping the questions in a way that reflects your interests or personality will lead to a conversational interview.
Go Beyond The Surface
When someone comes out with a new book, makes the news, or starts a new project that is getting a lot of attention, they’re most likely being interviewed A LOT. It’s no fault of theirs but often people fall into routines and tend to give the same answers and stories in each interview they do. This makes things easier on them and ensures consistency in their message.
But oftentimes does not lead to anything original that gives listeners a reason to listen to you over others.
Think beyond the surface. So your TED talk on X topic has gotten over 5 million views? — Let them go over the content in their TED talk — Then don’t be afraid to dig. What was it that you saw in your life or in the world that made you think this was necessary to research? Why do you love X topic so much, how were you introduced to it? What does it mean to you? Who showed you X topic?
All these example questions go beyond what someone can typically find with a google search.
For Example. We interviewed Kamal Ravikant on The Science of Successregarding his latest book Rebirth. He told us about the book and some of the lessons in it but then Matt asked him “Why Spain? Why a pilgrimage?” and the answer we got is not only gold but is something you could never find in a search…
You want the truth? I was in Italy visiting a friend from college, and we were at this beautiful Italian woman’s house and we were very drunk on grappa that her grandmother made, and I was trying to impress her, and she told me about this pilgrimage and I said I would walk it. So I came up with the idea when I was really, really drunk trying to impress a beautiful Italian woman. The next day when I woke up I was like, “Well that was interesting, but it seems cool. Let me just go do it for a few days.” So I went off and I did it, and ended up doing the whole thing. But the whole thing started off being drunk trying to impress a woman, which was pretty much where all a lot of great male stories start. — Kamal Ravikant on The Science of Success.
So now we know the funny and completely original story of how Kamal decided to take his pilgrimage and ultimately experience the source material for his best selling book.
Original stories and thoughts behind the creation are magic. Not just the whatyou did or created, but the WHY.
Don’t Be Afraid To Push and Dig
Not everyone likes to go off script. Sometimes you have to push someone a little more in order to get great information out of someone.
NOTE: BE RESPECTFUL. ALWAYS.
However, don’t be afraid to push someone to open up a little but. Using The Mirroring Technique can be a great way to get someone to divulge more information without even having to directly ask. It goes something like this…
Person 1: To get someone to tip their hand and clarify, simply repeat the last three to five keywords in their sentence.
Person 2: You repeat the last keywords?
Person 1: Yeah, pretty crazy right? What that does is it causes me to explain my point again from a different angle, revealing more information that could be extremely valuable and also it helps you decipher my true desired outcomes and motivations.
- Chris Voss on The Science of Success
See there? Person 1 gave more information and Person 2 never even had to ask directly.
Sometimes however you have to ask directly and a great way to push for more information is to ask about the surrounding emotions behind an action, a project, or story. “How did that make you feel?” “What was your biggest takeaway from that?”
Whenever possible, tee up a story. Stories stick with people. If I simply explain something to you, it’s easily forgotten. If I can picture it in my head and play it out as if it were a movie. I’ll remember it.
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There are few situations in a young professionals life more stressful than a job interview. Especially for those first time job hunters who are unsure of what to expect. While waiting for your interview you’re left sitting alone with your thoughts. Running through all your relevant experiences you want to mention in hopes of influencing the interviewer or panel and landing a job.
Luckily, the “godfather of influence” is here to help you land that job and start your interview off on the right foot. Dr. Robert Cialdini is the best selling author of Influence & most recently Pre-Suasion. His teaching and methods have been used across the globe with many big name companies on his client list. Recently, on The Science of Success he shared his best method for starting your job interview off on the right foot and leaving a great impression.
“There is a key moment that allows a communicator to create a state of mind in recipients,” notes Dr. Cialdini. Describing the precise moment in which you sit down to begin your interview. “We’ve always been taught to say, “I’m very happy to be here. I look forward to answering all of the questions you have for me.” Which is a perfectly polite way to begin, but according to Cialdini, there’s even more than can be done in these crucial moments before questioning begins.
While there are several great conversation starters out there, Cialdini recommends a different route, “Here’s I’m going to suggest you do.” also say, “But I’m curious. I have a question for YOU.
Why did you invite me here today? What was it about my resume that was attractive to you?”
By asking this one simple question you shift the interviewers to focus to your strengths at the start of the interview. They will search your resume and say, “Well, it’s because your credentials are what we want, or it’s because the values that you indicated fit with our value statement.”
You got the interview because something stood out that potentially made you qualified for the position. Start out the interview directing their focus to those strengths and reminding them that you’re a strong candidate. This focus on your strengths will last not only in the first few minutes of questioning, but throughout the entire interview. Cialdini’s Pre-suasion technique will frame you in a positive light throughout the interview, but also shows you what qualities the interviewer wants to focus on and cares about most.
Listen to their responses taking particular note of what they like about your resume. These are the skills and points that they find to be most relevant to the open position and build on that! Where else can you utilize the Pre-Suasion method in your life?
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Let me ask you an important question…
Are you a lucky person?
Shockingly, your answer to that question actually has more to do with how lucky you are than anything else. Recently, science has proven that we actually can create our own luck. This groundbreaking research reveals several evidence-based tactics you can use to help you stumble into that next great opportunity.
Dr. Richard Wiseman has been named “The Most Interesting and Innovative Experimental Psychologist in the World Today” by The Scientific American. His research and experiments have shed light on some of science’s most interesting topics and debunked several common “self-help” practices.
In a recent interview on The Science of Success, Dr. Wiseman explains how you can find more luck in your life today with science based steps.
But First, A Story…
So you think you’re unlucky, huh? Before we get into the steps, let’s review some of the stories from the Luck Experiments. Dr. Wiseman began by gathering thousands of people who considered themselves lucky or unlucky.
To give you some context, this was the experience of one self-proclaimed “unlucky” person…
· 5 Car Accidents Within 50 Miles — On the same trip.
· Signed Up For A Dating Service…
1. First date broke a leg on the way to meet her.
2. Second, ran into a glass door and broke his nose.
3. When she got engaged, the church she was to be married in burnt down the day before her wedding.
So… maybe you aren’t as unlucky as you thought. Despite these experiences, through adopting some of the mindsets in Dr. Wiseman’s research and implementing some new practices in her life, she actually is luckier.
So let’s get into it, here’s how you can go from unlucky to lucky, in no time at all.
The Newspaper Effect — Your Attention Spotlight
One of the most interesting differences between lucky and unlucky people is their attention spotlight. Lucky people are always looking for an opportunity in the details of everyday life. Where the unlucky tend to move forward without paying as much attention and without looking for luck. This hypothesis was proven and illustrated by Dr. Wiseman’s “Newspaper Experiment”
Dr. Wiseman began by asking participants to classify themselves as lucky or unlucky. They were then asked to flip through a newspaper and count the number of pictures they saw. As a reward they would be given $100. What he did not tell participants was that there were two huge time saving opportunities embedded in the newspaper.
“One was a half-page ad with massive type that said “Stop Counting. There are 42 photographs in this newspaper” and the other was another half page ad that said, “Tell the experimenter you’ve seen this ad and collect your $100 now.” Recalls Dr. Wiseman. The findings were extremely clear. Those who considered themselves lucky saw the ad and collected their money immediately. Those who identified as unlucky sat and counted each ad, missing the valuable time saving message.
When those who considered themselves unlucky felt pushed, stressed, or concerned, their attention narrowed, they put their heads down and droned through the task. In contrast, those who identified themselves as lucky expanded their attention to try and grasp the details of what they were doing. Causing them to get “lucky” and spot this time saving message. If we take the time to slow down, pay attention to what we are doing, and believe we’re lucky, studies show, we will be.
Write It Down
In his next experiment Dr. Wiseman set out to see if we could actually change our luck. “We thought, if we take a group of people who are not particularly lucky or unlucky and get them to think and behave like a lucky person, does that increase their luck?” recalls Dr. Wiseman.
In order to shift the subject’s mindsets they were asked to keep a “luck journal”. Dr. Wiseman lays out the rules, “We asked that at the end of each day they write down the most positive thing that happened or most positive thought they had that day. Or, in some cases, something negative that used to happen that no longer happens, or at very least some thought of gratitude.”
The participants who kept these journals reoriented themselves extremely quickly. They began to see the good things in their lives and the opportunities in front of them. “It’s the most simple interventions we found had the biggest impacts,” notes Dr. Wiseman. Journaling and putting thoughts to paper has been proven to have astounding mental health benefits. By focusing on the good that happens each day we rewire our brains to see more opportunity in each day. Thus increasing how “lucky” we feel with each day.
The Silver Linings Playbook
Once you’ve begun focusing on the positive, it can be hard to stop. Carol Dweck was the first to coin the term “Growth Mindset.” One of the key pillars to a growth mindset is learning and seeing the positive in everything. If you try something and you fail, don’t beat yourself up; focus on what you learned and how you can avoid the same pitfalls in the future. This keeps us moving forward and increase how “lucky” we are in the future as we know what not to do.
By constantly thinking you’re lucky it’s incredible how it changes your perspective of everything. Dr. Wiseman recounts a slightly comical but impactful scenario, “A lucky person would take something as negative as falling down the stairs and find the good. Sure, I fell down the stairs and broke my leg, but if I had landed slightly to the left. I would have broken both of them, lucky.”
You may be thinking that breaking one leg is still a poor outcome. It’s those who train their brain to regard themselves as lucky however who do not dwell on the negative but rather find the positive, shift their focus there, and move forward.
Don’t Be Scared of Change
Oddly enough as Dr. Wiseman explains some people enjoy being unlucky. “About 20% of unlucky people rather enjoy being unlucky. Their self-identity is bound up with that.” This 20% enjoy being the clumsy guest at a party, enjoy never having things work out because on some level, it gives them an excuse.
These people according to the experiments are extremely hard to reach. While thinking lucky can dramatically change your life, you have to want to change to make it happen.
So start writing your own luck journal. Shift the way you think about yourself and the rest will trickle down into how you see the world and interact with others. If you want to start being lucky today, believe it to achieve it.
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History is filled with tales of great men and women and their triumphs. But rarely do we get a look into one of the largest factors that made them great, their struggles. Specifically their internal, lesser-known struggles, that shaped how they saw the world around them and thus, allowed them to approach changing the world in a unique way.
Dr. Gail Saltz has devoted countless hours to examining some of history’s most prominent figures from the inside out in what is known as a “psychobiography”. Dr. Saltz is a Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the New York Presbyterian Hospital Weill Cornell School of Medicine and a psychoanalyst with the New York Psychoanalytic Institute. Her work has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and more! Recently Gail sat down with The Science of Success Podcast with Matt Bodnar and shared some of the results of her “psychobiographies” to give us a look inside some of history’s most well-known figures heads.
“Close to half of Americans struggle with some sort of mental health issue” explains Gail. “In my psychobiography series, we look at iconic figures and sort of what made them tick…what shaped them into the person that they ultimately became.” By studying these figures in this way we get a peek into their view of the world. Not only that but “normal” people can find comfort in the idea that even these great figures were far from perfect. “These struggles, not only did they overcome them, but often what they are remembered for in history that we find so astonishing is in some ways a direct result of the thing they struggled with.”
Many do not know this but one of our country’s greatest presidents Abraham Lincoln waged a lifelong battle with depression. His melancholy and quiet reflective nature is well documented throughout his life. It was this internal battle however that gave him the ability to empathize and be more accepting of others, just as he had had to learn to be more accepting of himself. “The ability to really tap into what other people are thinking and feeling and being very sensitive to that helped Lincoln to be the kind of president that he was,” notes Gail. It was learning to be accepting and forgiving of himself that helped Lincoln guide our country through one of the hardest times in the history of our nation.
Gail points out, “People with depression are often seen as kind of romantic figures, really pondering, really thoughtful…but it really can cause terrible suffering as well. But on the flip side, Lincoln’s ability to tap into what other people were thinking and really be attuned to that allowed him to bring in political partners and work with other groups and not erect a wall but instead extend himself and stand in other people’s shoes in a unique way”
History is filled with figures whose internal struggles in some ways helped them to change the world from Einstein, Vincent Van Gogh, and even Leonardo Da Vinci. Gail is quick to point out that while these figures were able to use their struggles to their advantage, they lived in a different time. If you are struggling with something serious be sure to seek medical evaluation and potential treatment.
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The most legendary fighter pilot to ever walk the face of the earth knew what it took to thrive in the chaos and uncertainty of war. His life is one of the greatest largely untold stories of the last century.
This man’s name was John Boyd. But John Boyd went by many names in his life. During his time as the premier instructor at the Air Force Fighter Weapons School at Nellis (the Navy later copied this school and named it “Top Gun”) he was known as “40 Second Boyd” because he never lost a single dogfight and would take less than 40 seconds to defeat any opponent.Pilots from around the globe flew to Nellis to challenge him. All went home defeated.
Later, when Boyd would go on to confront the entire Air Force establishment, and fundamentally change the way the United States military fights and wins wars he would earn the nickname “The Mad Major.” He literally wrote the book on air-to-air combat with his Aerial Attack Study, combined the concept of entropy from physics to create the “Energy Maneuverability” theory that transformed how militaries around the world evaluate aircraft performance. Boyd is known as the father of the F15, F16 and (along with Pierre Sprey) the A10 Warthog.
That was just Boyd’s warm up act. Fed up with military bureaucracy he retired and immersed himself in a massive deep dive of everything from psychology, to philosophy, to creativity and much more. Boyd earned his final nickname “Ghengis John” when he merged the knowledge across all of these disciplines — along with a complete study of every recorded conflict in human history — to formulate a theory of war called “Patterns of Conflict.”Patterns transformed US warfighting doctrine, reshaped the US Marine Corps, and was the impetus behind one of the most devastating and rapid military campaigns in military history — the 100 hour allied victory in The Gulf War.
In short, John Boyd was a man of many talents. The lessons Boyd discovered scorching through the sky at the speed of sound are the tools that will make you someone who thrives in a chaotic and uncertain world, too.
The Biggest Lessons From Studying Every Major Conflict in Recorded History
Patterns of conflict was a massive undertaking — so much so that Boyd “condensed” these learnings into a 14 hour briefing and refused to give the briefing to anyone who wouldn’t sit through all 14 hours. Once being ordered by a General to give him a shortened briefing, Boyd told the General to “get fucked.” That General never got to see Patterns of Conflict.
There were several core ideas within Patterns. You’re probably not fighting a war anytime soon (if you are — you can get the full slides of the briefing here, though without Boyd delivering them, they are missing a lot of context) so I’ll spare you the 14 hours and give you a few key ideas below.
Here were the key themes of Patterns of Conflict:
· Fluidity of Action
· Strength Against Weakness
· Attack with Multiple Thrusts
· The Power of Ambiguity
These are the major commonalities Boyd discovered when studying every successful military campaign in recorded history — especially with a focus on examining situations where an outnumbered or disadvantaged army won the engagement.
These principles form the core of the concept of “Maneuver Warfare” which Boyd was a staunch advocate of. These are the same themes that led to the stunningly rapid US victory in the Gulf War.
The key idea of these principles is to disorient and confuse your enemy, to cause them to unravel before you even engage in combat.
That’s all well and good and believe me I love a good military history as much as anyone (after all I did read Boyd’s massive biography) — but what I really care about is applying these principles to my life and business.
After all, business and war are very different. While in warfighting the idea is to destroy the enemy, in business that is not always possible and you also have to proactively build your own business and grow your sales.
There is a major shared thread between these two domains however. A thread that, once pulled, can lead us some major insights into how we can use the lessons of Genghis John to thrive in chaos and uncertainty.
How To Thrive In Chaos, Like a Fighter Pilot
This common thread, between the military and business, is that in both cases groups of people are working together under immense pressure and stress to try and create results.
Looking under the hood at some of the greatest military victories of all time, Boyd uncovered several key ideas around organizing people in tough situations that are directly applicable to business and life. These are the cornerstone of thriving under uncertainty.
Fight The Enemy — Not The Terrain
Boyd’s most well known idea is the concept of the “OODA” loop. OODA Loop stands for Observe, Orient, Decide, Act. This is framework designed to explain the process of collecting information, interpreting it, deciding what to do with it, and then taking action.
Much has been written about the OODA loop (here’s a great in-depth explanation of it) but I want to focus on one particular aspect, the piece that Boyd thought was the most important — Orientation.
It’s easy to skip over Orientation or think it’s essentially the same as Observation. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Orientation is about your relationship to reality and the observations you’re seeing.
Orientation is about confronting your cognitive biases, your ego, and your own limited perception of the world — peeling back those layers so you can get a clear picture of reality as it truly is, not as you wish it to be.
In tough, confusing and uncertain situations we often get stuck — frozen in what was — not accepting things as they are because we don’t like them or we wish that they were different.
This is one of the most devastatingly sinister cognitive biases and can put you in serious jeopardy.
Boyd sums this up beautifully with a simple quote:
“Fight the enemy, not the terrain.” — Col. John Boyd
Don’t get stuck in your conceptions of what “should” be — don’t fight the terrain — fight the enemy as they are, not as you want them to be.
This is a lesson not only uncovered in Boyd’s deep dive into human conflict and the path to victory, but shared by world champions and financial traders.
World champion martial artist and international chess master Josh Waitzkin sums this idea up powerfully as well:
“While I learned with open pores — no ego in the way — it seemed that many other students were frozen in place, repeating their errors over and over, unable to improve because of a fear of releasing old habits. When [our teacher] made suggestions, they would explain their thinking in an attempt to justify themselves. They were locked up by the need to be correct…[They] got stuck, like the guys doing [martial arts] who don’t learn from their mistakes and practice with a desperate need to win, to be right, to have everything under control. This ultimately cripples growth.” — Josh Waitzkin, The Art of Learning
If we fail to properly orient ourselves — to see our own weaknesses, biases, flaws in our thinking and much more, we prevent ourselves from growth and we invite disaster.
Trader Jim Paul describes the same danger of getting stuck in your ego — and losing sight of the best course of action — in his book “What I Learned Losing a Million Dollars”:
“Taking either success or failure personally means, by definition, that your ego has become involved and you are in jeopardy of incurring losses due to psychological factors. Having tied your self-worth to the vicissitudes of factors beyond your control, you will be primarily concerned with protecting your ego rather than trying to determine the appropriate course of action.”- Jim Paul
You must be aware of your Orientation and consciously work to sweep away ego distortions and cognitive biases so that you can get a crystal clear picture of reality.
A tool like Charlie Munger’s Psychology of Misjudgment (a list of mental models that cause people to make bad decisions) is an excellent starting place for this. Once you’ve done that it’s often easy to Decide what to do and Act on it.
Agility & Rapid Tempo
Boyd constantly preached the importance of “Agility.” It’s critical to understand that Agility does not mean speed, but rather speed of decision-making.
The ability to rapidly move through “decision cycles” (Boyd’s OODA Loops) is what distinguished victory from defeat.
Here’s how Boyd himself put it:
“In order to win, we should operate at a faster tempo or rhythm than our adversaries — or, better yet, get inside [the] adversary’s Observation-Orientation-Decision-Action time cycle or loop … Such activity will make us appear ambiguous (unpredictable) thereby generate confusion and disorder among our adversaries — since our adversaries will be unable to generate mental images or pictures that agree with the menacing, as well as faster transient rhythm or patterns, they are competing against.” — Col. John Boyd
This quote also underscores the power and importance of building clear and accurate mental models, which reinforces our need to Orient properly.
If you’re working to grow and improve yourself — the faster you can run through decision cycles (OODA Loops) and break away from the biases and errors that will keep you frozen in place, the faster you will grow. This rapid iteration and execution of OODA loops is how you see some people quickly advance while others seem to be stuck in place.
In life and business — this principle applies to both competitive threats and opportunities. The more rapidly you can Orient yourself to what’s really true, accurately collect information about the problem, the market, your product, etc — the faster you can make the correct decision.
Over time this slightly incremental speed advantage generates massive results. Without a rapid decision-making and analysis tempo, you’re leaving yourself at risk for external forces (competitors, markets, etc) to move away from where you think they are — and your understanding of those dynamics will be flawed and incomplete, leading to a poor Orientation.
Pronounced “Shh-where-punked” — the notion of Schwerpunkt is the single most important organizational principle to come out of Boyds work in Patterns. Schwerpunkt is a vital tool for working with others and thriving under chaos and uncertainty.
Schwerpunk is one of those words that doesn’t fully translate from German to English. The meaning is rich with an idea that a single definition cannot express. The definition of Schwerpunkt is something like center of gravity, crucial focal point, point of the main effort, key goal, or commander’s intent.
This guiding principle explains another one of the most devastating military campaigns in recent history — the Blitzkrieg of WW2. German forces operated under a largely decentralized decision-making structure that was imbued with mutual trust and the ability for unit commanders in the field to make the key decisions — in alignment with the overall Schwerpunkt of the campaign.
This focus on decentralized organizational structures — where the core goal, key focus, and commander’s intent (aka Schwerpunkt) is communicated and understood by everyone — is a cornerstone of the most successful military campaigns in history.
When you let decisions happen on the “front lines” — you’re empowering people to make decisions not only much more rapidly but with much more accurate and real time information.
More importantly for you and me — it’s also a highly effect management tactic and organizational structure for modern day organizations.
Books like The Outsiders have studied companies that massively outperform over a long period of time and the concept of a highly decentralized organization that pushes decision-making to the lowest level possible is one of the cornerstones of those businesses. Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway is a classic example of a highly decentralized company.
You Can Become Someone Who Thrives In Chaos and Uncertainty
The powerful toolkit of Orientation, Agility, and Schwerpunkt will allow you to thrive in any chaotic or uncertain environments. These ideas are literally battle tested in the most unforgiving crucible imaginable — war.
Boyd explains how all these concepts fit together neatly and why they are so powerful for thriving under adversity and under stressful and chaotic situations.
“War is ever changing, and men are ever fallible” -Col. John Boyd
I like to adjust that slightly to:
“Life & Business are ever changing, and people are ever fallible.”
Cognitive biases and the inherent biological limits of the human brainconstantly cause people to make mistakes. If you are properly orienting yourself, not getting frozen in your past conceptions of reality, and rapidly iterating through your decision-cycles — you will be running circles around your competition and aligned with market demand and expectations — setting yourself up for success.
John Boyd was the ultimate bad ass. He lived an incredible life, fought in three wars and transformed the way our military fights and wins.
The lessons Boyd uncovered in Patterns have the power to transform you into someone who thrives under chaotic, uncertain and adverse conditions.
As Boyd would say, what are you waiting for, Tiger?
Learning More About Boyd
If you want to learn more about Boyd here are a few resources.
I also highly suggest reading his Biography “John Boyd The Fighter Pilot Who Changed The Art of War”
If you want to dig into the source material, here is a catalogue of all of Boyd’s work in a military archive.
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No matter what your job is — no matter what you’re working on — creativity and resourcefulness are the cornerstones of building a successful life.
I’m sure you’ve heard the quote:
“It’s not the lack of resources, it’s your lack of resourcefulness that stops you.” — Tony Robbins
History is filled with examples of people who’ve achieved epic things thanks to being resourceful, despite having a lack of resources.
One of my favorites is the story of how Peter Diamandis launched the creation of a spaceship. He did this with no money and no engineering ability but got it done purely through the raw power of resourcefulness.
Peter wanted a spaceship. Pretty ambitious, right? To start, he didn’t have the money, he didn’t have the technical ability — he didn’t have any real resources at all to help him build that spaceship.
And yet — through sheer creativity he created the X Prize– and found a sponsor to fund it — effectively leveraging some of the smartest people in the world to create dozens of space ship designs and ultimately produce the SpaceShipOne.
So if Peter can create a freakin rocket ship out of thin air — is it possible you could get a bit more resourceful and creative towards achieving your goals?
I’ve been there too. I was stuck in the same rut in my life — feeling frustrated and thinking that nothing I could do would make a difference in my life and business
But then I broke out of that rut by beginning a daily creativity practice that has helped me get super focused and incredibly creative.
It’s helped me begin building my own rocket ships and it can do the same for you, here’s how.
How To Build Your Creative Rocket Ship
The way I execute this is simple — every morning (at least three times a week) I force myself to brainstorm ten ideas.
This could be ten ideas for a new business, ten ideas to fix a problem in my current business, ten ways to get more customers, ten possible pivots for my business, ten ways to get more free time — any challenge you are facing in life or other areas where you want to improve and move forward.
I always keep a list of topics created ahead of time, that I add to on the fly using Evernote, so I don’t spend my time thinking “what should I journal about today?” — I always have a steady list of topics I want to apply this method to.
I’ve found this to be incredibly powerful.
In a company where I’ve recently taken over as CEO, I was facing a major challenge and I could not figure out how to solve it. I kept thinking of one or two solutions but was telling myself (in my internal dialogue and self talk) “there aren’t many things I can do to solve this problem.”
So I added that challenge to my list of topics to journal on.
When I set out to brainstorm 10 ways to solve this problem — I ended up finding 18 possible solutions — none of which I had implemented or executed yet.
It is much easier is it to face that challenge now, knowing that I have a tool kit of 18 possible solutions that could work to resolve it. It took less than 30 minutes to come up with those ideas.
So how do you do it? It’s pretty simple.
· Use a tool like Evernote to keep a running list of challenges or topics you want to brainstorm on
· Make sure you are distraction free when doing this exercise
· Set aside 15–30 minutes in the morning, a few days a week. A time constraint is good as it keeps the exercise from becoming overwhelming and also forces the brain to be creative.
· Brainstorm ten ideas or more on how you could solve this challenge in your life or business.
· Here’s another secret — don’t worry if they are good ideas or bad ideas — there is a distinction between idea creation and idea selection — you can’t be as fully creative as you need to be if you’re in selection mode — so throw off the shackles of judgment and just throw ideas out there. The more bad ideas the better.
Woah There’s Science That Backs This Up Too?
You bet there is! — there is a bunch of science that backs this idea up.
There is some fascinating research that has been written about this. Much of it popularized by Dr. Adam Grant in the book Originals. He also shared this insightful example in a recent interview:
“I was reading [Dean Simonton’s] research and he said, in a nutshell, that the more bad ideas you have, the more creative you are. I read that and I thought, “What? How could this be true?” I thought I always had this vision of creative people as dreaming up there masterpiece and then going and executing on it… What Simonton shows very clearly in his data and now we have experiments also showing that it’s s true for ordinary people, not just sort of outlier original thinkers, is a huge part of creativity is the volume of ideas that you generate…
So if you look at Beethoven, Bach and Mozart, one of the things that differentiates them from their peers as they produced not just a few more, but hundreds more compositions, into the 600 and 700. At least in Bach’s case, I think about a thousand, when most of their peers we’re in the sort of below a hundred range. And there’s a really nice linear relationship — number of compositions that you do in a lifetime and your eventual greatness… We see this in all kinds of domains.” — Dr. Adam Grant on The Science of Success
Looks like it’s time to get out there and generate some bad ideas.
Forming this habit was hard at first, but now it’s so much fun coming up with new, creative and whacky ways to look at, think about, and solve challenges in my life.
I find my brain is actually addicted to it — when I don’t do the journal in the morning my brain keeps going “hey when can I do some brainstorming? When can I unleash my creativity on something?”
It’s like weight lifting for creativity and resourcefulness. Try it for a week and you will be amazed how powerful it is. And maybe, just maybe, you can start pulling some rocket ships out of thin air, too.
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In my conversations with some of the world’s top experts I kept hearing this one idea come up again and again.
It seemed as if almost every guest I interviewed on The Science of Successkept bringing up the same key skill necessary for success in today’s world.
That skill is self awareness.
In fact, I kept hearing self awareness crop up so frequently in my interviews with experts, neuroscientists, and psychologists that I sought out a leading research psychologist who specializes in self awareness — Dr. Tasha Eurich.
She called self awareness “The Secret Weapon of the 21st Century.”
Self awareness underpins nearly every other skill. If you’re self aware, you can grow, improve, learn, and get better. If you’re not, you usually plateau and end up stuck.
Here’s how Dr. Eurich puts it:
“The reason self awareness is the meta-skill is basically our self-awareness sets the upper limit for so many of the skills that we need to be successful in the world right now. Things like communication skills, influence, emotional intelligence, collaboration. We can only be as good at each of those things as we are self-aware. The other thing I call it sometimes is the secret weapon of the 21st-century. So many people think they’re self-aware, but they actually aren’t. So people that work on it are the ones that really I’ve seen reap the rewards time and time again.” — Dr. Tasha Eurich
Are You Self Aware?
According to Dr. Eurich’s research — 95% of people think they are self aware, but only 10–15% of people actually are.
That’s pretty scary stuff. The even crazier thing is that those who have the least self knowledge are often the least aware of it.
The good news is that research also shows that self awareness is an “infinitely learnable skill” according to Dr. Eurich.
So what happen when you don’t have self awareness?
- You don’t see yourself objectively.
- You don’t understand your own strengths, and much more importantly your own weaknesses.
- You aren’t aware of your own cognitive biases.
- You aren’t aware of the thought patterns and mental addictions that prevent you from achieving what you want.
- Deluding yourself.
- You reject criticism and feedback because you don’t like it
- You reject ideas because you don’t like them.
- You make blame and excuses for your failures instead of taking responsibility for them
- You don’t know your own limiting beliefs.
- You don’t recognize patterns of self sabotage that repeatedly manifest in your life.
Developing Self Awareness
You have to know your own strengths and weaknesses.
Ray Dalio, the billionaire founder of the hedge fund Bridgewater, created an incredible book called Principles that teaches the philosophy of how he views the world. Self knowledge and the search for objective truth are the core ideas of his work. For some bonus points you can also view his TED Talk here.
Here’s a sample:
“Let’s imagine that your goal is to have a winning basketball team. Wouldn’t it be silly to put yourself in a position that you don’t play well?If you did, you wouldn’t get what you want. Whatever your goals are, achieving them works the same way. If you see that you are not capable of doing something, it is only sensible for you to have someone else do it. In other words, you should look down at you and all the other resources at your disposal and create a “machine” to achieve your goals, remembering that you don’t necessarily need to do anything other than to design and manage the machine to get what you want.
If you find that you can’t do something well, fire yourself and get a good replacement! You shouldn’t be upset that you found out that you are bad at that — you should be happy because you have improved your chances of getting what you want. If you are disappointed because you can’t be the best person to do everything, you are terribly naïve because nobody can do everything well. The biggest mistake most people make is to not see themselves and others objectively.” — Ray Dalio
Accepting When You Make Mistakes
We’ve heard it from a billionaire, now let’s see what a research psychologist who’s studied tens of thousands of people has to say. Here’s a paraphrased passage from one of my favorite books of all time — Mindset by Carol Dweck.
“Instead of trying to learn from and repair their failures, people with a fixed mindset simply try to repair their self esteem…by assigning blame or making excuses…You can still be in the process of learning from your mistakes until you deny making them.” — Carol Dweck in Mindset
That last line is extremely important. The only way to learn from your mistakes is to actually accept that you made them. To be self aware enough to say “yeah, I screwed up” and to take responsibility for it.
Without self knowledge, you are constantly ignoring feedback from reality. Carol Dweck explains this further in a recent interview.
“If you’re looking to repair your self-esteem, maybe you’re looking for people who did worse, maybe you’re looking to place the blame, maybe you’re looking to deny the failure, in any of those cases, you’re not going to be better off going forward.
Neuroscience research shows that when people are in a fixed mindset, the part of their brain that processes errors is hardly active. They are just turning away from that error as quickly as possible. As a result, they’re not correcting the error at the next opportunity as much as people in a growth mindset.
In a growth mindset, that area of the brain is on fire, it’s just super active, they’re looking at the error, they’re processing it, they’re learning from it and they’re correcting it.” — Carol Dweck
The resounding lesson taught by everyone from Navy Seals to ancient stoic philosophers is clear — take responsibility for your own mistakes — be self aware that you screwed up and own it — that’s the only way to create a learning opportunity.
Tools To Build Self Awareness
So what can you do to improve your self awareness?
Here are a few simple evidence based strategies you can use starting right now.
- Meditate. Yeah, everyone says meditation. That’s because there is a ton of science about how it really does work. One of the first things meditation teaches you is how to be aware of your own thoughts and biases. That’s a key step in the journey of self awareness and self knowledge. This podcast “The Skeptic’s Guide To Meditation” is a great place to start.
- Develop a Growth Mindset. Carol Dweck touched on this earlier — and goes much more in depth in this interview as well as in her book. Developing a growth mindset gives you permission to look at your own mistakes and shortfalls without ego or defensiveness getting in the way. A growth mindset gives you the ability to objectively judge your own abilities. This is a cornerstone of self knowledge.
- Journal. Journalling helps put thoughts on paper, clear up your thinking,develop self awareness, and lets your return later to assess your thought process.
- Read up on rationality and cognitive biases. Check out people like Charlie Munger who speak about mental models and cognitive biases so you can learn to spot them in your own thinking.
- Check out this interview with Dr. Eurich to learn more. She’s an expert in self awareness after all. Listen to that episode, check out some of her work, and learn the strategies she recommends for becoming more self awareness.
So there you go — this is the first step on the journey towards rationality and clear thinking — start developing your self awareness!
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I was recently asked “what one sentence has changed your life?”
This was my answer.
“You cannot learn from a mistake if you deny that you ever made it.” -Dr. Carol Dweck
Pretty simple — most people make excuses, blame others, and do everything they can to refuse to admit that they made a mistake — but the reality is that when you do that, you rob yourself of the ability to learn from that mistake and grow.
This is a huge reason why we have such a hard time even agreeing on what’s objectively true.
That single quote is also one of the biggest things that distinguishes people who achieve their goals and are very successful from those who plateauand can’t figure out why they are stuck.
This is based in hard psychology science from an acclaimed Stanford psychology professor Dr. Carol Dweck.
Here’s what Dr. Dweck said about the robustness of the research in a recent interview:
“We’ve been doing research on the fixed and growth mindset for about 35 years. We have actually, and others have hundreds of studies with people of all ages. For example, in some of the studies, we might measure people’s mindsets about their intelligence, ask them to answer questions like this, agree or disagree. Then we look at say in students, we look at their achievement over time and we have often found that students endorsing that growth mindset, achieve more in terms of grades or test scores or going on to college or graduating from college. Achieve more over time. Recently we did a study with all the 10th graders in Chile, 168,000 students. Those who held more of a growth mindset, achieved substantially more at every level of family income.” — Dr. Carol Dweck on The Science of Success
You See… It’s all about Your MINDSET
The above graphic (which was created originally by Nigel Holmes) summarizes the essential lessons of having a “growth mindset” (which is what Dr. Dweck calls it).
One of the key items here is to understand that when you’re in a “Fixed Mindset” you care about appearances — you care about demonstrating how great you are, showing everyone how smart you are — but you’re secretly terrified to ask a dumb question or look dumb.
OK — but what does that mean — the fixed mindset and the growth mindset?
Dr. Dweck’s recent interview goes much deeper on explaining this topic, but here are a few key lessons and highlights that may help explain the core idea behind Dr. Dweck’s work.
What Exactly Is a Mindset?
“Well, when I say mindset in the sense that it’s used in my book, I mean people’s beliefs about their most basic abilities and talents. When people are in a fixed mindset, they believe their basic abilities, talents, personal attributes, personalities. That these are fixed traits, you have a certain amount, you have a certain type and that’s it.
But, when people are in more of a growth mindset, they believe that, people differ but everyone can develop their talents, abilities and personal qualities.Again, it doesn’t mean everyone’s the same or everyone will go to the same place ultimately.” -Dr. Carol Dweck on The Science of Success
What Does It Feel Like To Be In A Fixed Mindset?
Being in a fixed mindset sucks. I should know, I was incredibly fixed mindset before I read Dr. Dweck’s book.
If you are worried about looking dumb or think that being eager and asking basic questions will somehow hurt you, instead of helping you, you’re probably in a fixed mindset.
Dr. Dweck goes on in this interview to explain the pain of having a fixed mindset in your daily life:
“When you’re in a fixed mindset, you think, for example. My intelligence is just fixed, I have a certain amount, I can’t do anything about it, I really value being intelligent. The goal of my life becomes to look smart at all cost and all situations and never look dumb.
When you’re in that fixed mindset, a voice in your head says, maybe you shouldn’t do this, maybe you’ll mess up here. Hey, do this, people will think you’re really brilliant. When someone else is looking really smart, you feel threatened by that, when you’re working on something hard and maybe struggling a little, you get really anxious, you think, maybe I’m not as good at this as I hoped I was, as I want to be.
When you hit a setback, that’s a calamity, that’s a real condemnation of your natural talent. If you are so talented, would you have had that failure? Would you have plunged into this mistake like that? Will everyone know it? Will you be unmasked, will you be found out finally? The fixed mindset system is kind of this fear based system, kind of fear alternating with arrogance because if you’re going around thinking it’s fixed and you have this arrogance you feel, I’m better than other people who have less of it but if you’re struggling or having setbacks, then you’re feeling really kind of insecure.
But, what we found in our research whether you’re in the arrogant phase or the un arrogant phase, you’re not primarily a learner. You’re not looking always to grow your skills to create teams that will help you develop and so forth. You’re primarily about showing you’re smart.” — Dr. Carol Dweck on The Science of Success
What Does It Feel Like To Live In a Growth Mindset?
Having a positive outlook and a growth mindset can massively transform the way you live your life, think about yourself, deal with setbacks, handle criticism, and much more. Dr. Dweck continues:
“The growth mindset as I mentioned is a place where you believe your abilities can be developed. Again, it doesn’t mean you saying you’re Michael Jordan or Mia Ham or Yoyo Ma but you understand that abilities can be developed through hard work, learning good strategies, pushing out of your comfort zone as often as possible.
Just keep pushing that limit and getting lots of great input and mentoring from others. It’s a place where if you’re not pushing out of your comfort zone, something’s wrong. If you’re just feeling smart but not feeling you’re getting smarter, something’s wrong.
When you get feedback rather than being threatened, you try to learn from it. If you see someone who is really better than you at something you pride yourself on, instead of thinking, maybe they’re the ones with the talent, you think, I wonder how they got there? I wonder what they can teach me? I wonder how I can get as far as they got or maybe even further.
The focus is, not on looking and feeling smart all the time or being perfector beating out the competition for smartness all the time. But, it’s about becoming smarter, growing, learning. Again, pushing out of your comfort zone, using mistakes and setbacks as opportunities to learn. It was a long time before I could really get in to the idea that setbacks were welcomed, setbacks were inevitable because it’s so different from a fixed mindset place.” — Dr. Carol Dweck on The Science of Success.
Want To Learn More About Mindset?
There is a tremendous amount of research, information, and actionable insight from Carol Dweck’s work, and going much deeper is beyond the scope of this article. To that effect, I wanted to provide you with some additional resources to follow up, check out, and absorb if building a growth mindset is something that interests you.
If you want to learn more about developing a growth mindset and implementing the things Dr. Dweck mentions above, you may enjoy checking out the following books, interviews, and podcasts:
- The book Mindset by Dr. Carol Dweck
- This interview with Dr. Carol Dweck on Mindset
- Dr. Carol Dweck’s Ted Talk “The Power of Believing That You Can Improve”
Moving into a growth mindset is a critical piece of putting on your rationality oxygen mask. It helps you move ego out of the way and accept things as they are, so that you can move forward and grow.
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What does science say about the best way for you to deal with difficult or negative emotions?
Dealing with negative emotions was a very personal challenge for me and so I set out and tried to find as many experts as I could to interview on that subject.
In fact, negative emotions are a topic I cover a ton on The Science of Success and something I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about and working on personally.
These are the core lessons I learned from talking to them.
What Do Negative Emotions Mean?
Let’s start with two core ideas about emotions and what they mean.
(1) Emotions are unavoidable.
You cannot avoid experiencing negative emotions — and by trying to or by pushing them down, ignoring them, and distracting yourself — you are actually causing these emotions to intensify and become greater. Trying to avoid experiencing negative emotions, paradoxically, makes you experience them more frequently and with more intensity.
Tal Ben Shahar — who taught the most popular class in Harvard’s history which was on Happiness — famously says that only two types of people never experience negative emotions — psychopaths and dead people. He has also shared a number of paradoxical strategies to embrace and accept negative emotions and improve your happiness.
Emotional perfectionism — or the idea that you should always be in positive emotional states — can cause some serious problems — and worsen the experience of going through negative emotions. Cultivating self compassion and a more realistic perspective that negative emotions are inevitable and natural helps tremendously (more on Emotional Perfectionism and Self Compassion in minute).
Your emotions are messengers trying to send you information. The sooner you accept that and listen to what they are saying, the better off you will be.
(2) Emotions are data, not direction.
Negative emotions provide you with meaningful and relevant information that you can use to make decisions, prioritize, and understand that something is going on in your life. Listen to that message. But also know that emotions aren’t necessary correct or right — they don’t mean you have to go in that particular direction, but they are providing you with incredibly useful information that you should listen to and incorporate into your behavior.
In fact, when you look at high stakes performers like stock traders and professional poker players — they don’t try to remove emotion from the equation — they leverage their emotions to improve their decision-making process.
Two Reasons To Handle Your Emotions
It seems to me that there are two obvious reasons you want to better handle your emotions:
- Peace of Mind
Here are the key strategies for doing each of those (and there is a lot of overlap between these strategies as well).
Mastering Your Emotions For Peak Performance
I would suggest studying someone like Josh Waitzkin — a multi-time national chess champion who then became a multi-time world champion martial artist. This guy knows what it takes to master both mind and body at the highest levels of global competition, and he wrote an amazing book about it called The Art of Learning.
Here’s an awesome quote from The Art of Learning that gets at the core of how you can work to master your mind and emotions:
“My whole life I have worked on this issue. Mental resilience is arguably the most critical trait of a world-class performer, and it should be nurtured continuously. Left to my own devices, I am always looking for ways to become more and more psychologically impregnable. When uncomfortable, my instinct is not to avoid the discomfort but to become at peace with it.” -Josh Waitzkin, The Art of Learning
You can practice the ability to embrace discomfort in, as Josh puts it later on in that passage, “the little moments of our lives.” It’s all about expanding your sphere of discomfort day by day and getting past what makes you uncomfortable.
Mastering Your Emotions For Peace Of Mind
Now — lets look at the two primary tools for mastering your emotions to create peace of mind.
The first is meditation. Meditation is proven again and again in the science to be one of the most effective paths of dealing with anxiety, stress, and negative emotions.
In a recent interview I did with Dr. Rick Hanson, author of the book Buddha’s Brain, which is about the neuroscience behind meditation, he shares a number of insights into how meditation helps deal with stress and anxiety.
The second strategy for mastering your emotions is self compassion. This helps combat emotional perfectionism and build an understanding that it’s OK to experience negative emotions.
The Importance of Self Compassion
Self compassion is at the root of taking better care of yourself both mentally and emotionally. We often reserve the most brutal and severe self talk for ourselves — we say things to ourselves that we would never dream of saying to a close friend facing the same challenge, and we expect things of ourselves that we would never expect of anyone else.
Self-compassion is not woo-woo or soft — its very much grounded in psychology research. For example, Dr. Susan David, a Harvard Medical School psychologist and author, discusses self compassion at length in this interviewincluding the below statement:
“The idea of being self-compassionate can seem very woo-woo and very soft.People might think, for example, that being self-compassionate is about being lazy or it’s about being weak or it’s about going easy on yourself. In fact, the research shows the opposite. The research shows that when people create a self-forgiving and safe psychological space within themselves, that those individuals tend to be more experimental, more able to take risks and to take chances, because they recognize that if they fail, that they still save their self-face. That individuals who are self-compassionate tend to be less weak, less lazy and, in fact, more honest with themselves and are able to get through setbacksand transitions more effectively.” Dr. Susan David
Dr. Susan David goes on in that interview to discuss specific strategies for implementing self compassion in your life, beyond just the intellectual acknowledgement that it’s important, including the following passage:
“Recognize how you might speak to yourself, because, of course, we all speak to ourselves. We all have inner dialogue. Some studies show that we have something like 16,000 spoken thoughts every single day and many, many, many, thousands more course through our minds. So many of these thoughts are about ourselves. We will have a dialogue with ourselves where we will say, “You’re such an idiot,” or, “You’re being a fraud,” or, “You are not cut out for this.” A lot of our language is lacking in self-compassion, where we would not use that language with people who we truly love and yet we use it with ourselves. A first aspect of cultivating self-compassion is simply become aware. Simply start noticing the language that you use to actually attack yourself, and that’s really critical.
A second part of creating this felt experience of self-compassion, there are many different ways, but one of the ways that’s frequently very powerful is when you’re going through a setback or a difficulty and you’re starting to be really hard on yourself, is to imagine yourself as a very young child running to yourself as, you, the adult and saying, “Oh my goodness! This happened to me today,” and imagine in yourself how you would treat that very young child, that three or four year old who’s failed at something, who’s done wrong at something and to imagine the kind of love that that child actually needs and the experience that that child actually needs of someone reaching out and giving a hug. That can be really powerful.” — Dr. Susan David
One of the biggest things working against self compassion is emotional perfectionism. This is the mistaken belief that you need to be in a positive emotional state all the time and can actually worsen your subjective experience resulting in behavior like “getting anxious about being anxious” or “being angry about being angry” etc.
One of the most profound and personally impactful conversations I’ve ever had about smashing emotional perfectionism was this discussion with Megan Bruneau. We discuss how perfectionism creates an illusion of control and distorts your reality, how to become aware of the critical inner voice at the root of your pain and unhealthy habits, the incredible power of self compassion, and much more.
Cultivating Self Compassion & Mindfulness
Dr. Ronald Siegel, another psychologist with Harvard Medical School, he discusses proven strategies for cultivating mindfulness and self compassion (one of the cornerstones of which is meditation). He share this insight:
“When we are hurting, when we notice that we’ve had a disappointment, we’ve had a failure, something hasn’t turned out well, which [it] inevitably will. Inevitably, we’ll have these moment of defeat, that we can just be nice to ourselves and give ourselves a hug, feel the feeling of vulnerability, feel the feeling of failure, and trust that that’s okay too, that it’s just part of the cycle and we don’t have to identify with that or believe in it. Because as it turns out, none of us are so great and none of us are so terrible.” Dr. Ronald Siegel
Meditation, along with loving kindness practices, can be powerful tools for cultivating and building self compassion. So if you want to take better care of yourself mentally and emotionally, start with the simple act of being more loving and compassionate to yourself.
One More Tool… Emotional Intelligence
One last tool is building the skill of Emotional Intelligence.
Emotional Intelligence is at the cornerstone of managing both your own emotions and understanding what’s going, emotionally, with others. Dr. Daniel Goleman is credited with popularizing and sharing the concept. In this interview titled “How To Master Emotional Intelligence & Why Your IQ Won’t Make You Successful” Dr. Goleman discusses a number of critical ideas including the four pillars of emotional intelligence, how to development emotional intelligence and how to cultivate emotional self control.
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Objective truth is under attack.
College students are protesting objective facts as a tool of the patriarchy. Politicians are labeling anything they disagree with as fake news. The government just banned the Center for Disease Control from using the word “evidence-based.” Huge chunks of the population don’t believe in statistics anymore.
We can no longer determine, or even agree on, what basic facts are. This war on truth, this lack of an objective reality is a threat to the very fabric of our society.
And the crisis our society faces is rooted in a crisis we each face individually. We are profoundly unaware. We live in a bubble where algorithms confirm everything we want to believe, without any regard for what’s actually real.
This deafening lack of self-awareness is at the heart of the crisis our society faces. It’s the biggest threat we face in 2018.
Why This Matters For You
If you want our society to survive this crisis, if you want to grow and thrive, you must start with putting on your rationality oxygen mask first.
You have to wake up and help yourself before you can help others.
But modern personal development is in the midst of the same crisis. It has failed to deliver on its promise. The self-help world is filled with charlatans and half truths.
You don’t even know if there’s oxygen flowing to the mask. Or which mask to wear.
As the voice behind the popular podcast The Science of Success, I’ve been surprised by the overwhelming conclusion every guest I’ve interviewed makes.
At the heart of this danger is a pervasive lack of self-knowledge. We are deluding ourselves. Specifically:
• Not seeing yourself objectively
• Rejecting criticism you don’t like
• Rejecting ideas you don’t like (worse!)
• Blaming and externally rationalizing failures
• Unawareness of your cognitive biases
• Not understanding your strengths
• Failing to perceive your weaknesses
We need these vital skills to save our society and ourselves.
There’s still true, real and valuable information out there. But we have confusion en masse and a huge signal vs noise problem.
Where can smart, rational people who crave the genuine insights and improvement necessary for themselves and our society turn?
That is where Evidence Based Growth comes in.
The Quest For Objective Truth
Between the sociopolitical battle over truth’s very nature and the natural biological biases and limits of the human mind — it’s becoming harder and harder to figure out what’s true. We’re slowly slipping into an Idiocracy.
There are people who unwittingly inundate themselves with inane unproven ideas that are toxic and insidiously sabotaging.
There’s a cynically motivated war on truth itself that victimizes those caught in the crossfire of misinformation.
Then there’s also the ambitious intellectual elite who fail to spot, understand and admit to the flaws in their own thinking, in the most destructive way possible.
Objective truth solves all this. We need more truth seekers. We need rational optimists. We need to collectively push forward and rub the dirt from our eyes.
I’m asking you to join this movement.
To join a group of truth seekers dedicated to blowing apart bias and self delusion. To become one of the people who believes that truth is NOT relative and WILL set us free.
We believe humans must quest for truth and answer these questions before it’s too late:
- What’s true about our society?
- What’s true about human nature?
- What’s true about how the world works?
- What’s true about ourselves?
- What’s true about making the world better for all us?
Evidence Based Growth
The Evidence Based Growth movement is organized around the deep belief that objective truth can be found, that there are real answers out there, and evidence and science can improve the lives of us as individuals and WE as a civilization.
We are champions of rationality and clear thinking. We’re ruthlessly investigating our own biases and mental addictions. Our mission is to build a better world out of truth, facts and clear thinking.
We’re harnessing the wisdom of the smartest people on our planet to transform ourselves and to rise to the challenges of our time.
That’s what the Evidence Based Growth movement is all about. We’ve been waiting for you.
Join The Evidence Based Growth Movement
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Mental toughness is one of the most common traits of top performers. So how do you become mentally strong?
Let’s look at the strategy used by a world champion
One of the absolute best strategies to become mentally strong is to embrace discomfort.
Josh Waitzkin is a multi-time national chess champion who transitioned into becoming a world champion martial artist. To put it simply, this guy knows what is takes to perform under serious pressure at the absolute highest levels.
He wrote an amazing book about his journey and what it takes to be a top performer called The Art of Learning. You can also get a great summary of some of the key ideas from The Art of Learning in this incredible interview Josh did with Tim Ferriss a few years ago.
My favorite quote from The Art of Learning perfectly answers the question of how to build mental toughness:
“My whole life I have worked on this issue. Mental resilience is arguably the most critical trait of a world-class performer, and it should be nurtured continuously. Left to my own devices, I am always looking for ways to become more and more psychologically impregnable. When uncomfortable, my instinct is not to avoid the discomfort but to become at peace with it.When injured, which happens frequently in the life of a martial artist, I try to avoid painkillers and to change the sensation of pain into a feeling that is not necessarily negative. My instinct is always to seek out challenges as opposed to avoiding them. This type of internal work can take place in the little moments of our lives. I mentioned how my style over the board was to create chessic mayhem and then to sort my way through the chaos more effectively than my opponents. This was a muscle I built up by training myself to be at peace with the unclear and tumultuous — and most of the training was in everyday life.” — Josh Waitzkin, The Art of Learning
Josh provides some incredible wisdom in that quote. Embracing discomfort and becoming at peace with it is the best way to cultivate mental toughness and resilience — and this is key — that work takes place in your everyday life.
The little moments where you can push yourself beyond your comfort zone and get uncomfortable build tolerance and slowly expand your ability to get tougher and tougher.
The Sphere of Discomfort
I call this the “sphere of discomfort” and it reminds me of this quote:
Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear. — George Addair
When you do something for the first time it’s scary. When you do it for the 10th time, you’re staring to get the hang of it. When you do it for the 1000th time, you’re practically getting bored.
When you play on the edges of your comfort zone, those edges slowly expand, and expand, and expand — and you start to be able to do more things, to push more boundaries, to achieve goals you never thought possible.
The strength and courage to break out of your comfort zone happens, as Josh said, in those little moments of your life. Take the opportunity to make yourself uncomfortable. Take a cold shower. Talk to a stranger. Ask the coffee shop for a free cup of coffee, just because. That’s how you start to get more and more comfortable with discomfort. Rejection therapy is another great tool to start really getting out of your comfort zone.
In the podcast episode below, I even tell a story of how this very Medium post would never exist without me, personally, progressively embracing discomfort!
How To Get Uncomfortable
For a few resources on how to go deeper on this I would recommend checking out the following:
- In this Google Talk — Josh Waitzkin explains many of his ideas and concepts around performance.
- In this podcast episode I break down a number of strategies for embracing discomfort in your daily life (and go deeper on Josh’s story).
- In this interview Jia Jiang discusses “rejection therapy” which can be a great way to familiarize yourself with discomfort (especially if you struggle with social situations).
- In this interview Dr. Andy Molinsky, a professor of psychology, explains a number of strategies for getting outside your comfort zone.
All of those resources, along with the book The Art of Learning, would be a great starting point toward becoming mentally tougher.
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I’ve studied many of the most successful people in the history of our planet from titans of industry like John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie to modern day financial wizards like Warren Buffett, Charlie Munger, and Ray Dalio.
What I’ve discovered from studying such a wide array of incredibly successful individuals is there are some striking similarities between what enabled a 19th century oil baron to succeed and what makes modern day billionaires like Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and Elon Musk thrive.
In fact — there is a core principle that holds the secret to what these uber-achievers unlocked — and it’s something I call “high leverage thinking.”
But before we dig into the core ideas of high leverage thinking — and how you can harness them for yourself, starting right now, it’s important to understand the relationship between time and value creation.
The Secret of Leverage
There is a non-linear relationship between time and value creation. The amount of time you spend on something does not have a direct relationship to the amount of value you create.
This doesn’t just have to do with financial success — but it is extremely easy to demonstrate this principle using money.
For someone making $50,000 a year, if they work twice as a hard, maybe they can double their income to $100,000 a year. Once you start moving up the ladder, this logic really starts to break down. It wouldn’t be possible for the same person to work 10x as hard to make 10x as much ($500k a year), because that would require working 400 hours per week, and the week only has 168 hours!
The numbers get crazy when you look at billionaires and titans of industry. According to Wealth-X data from 2013, Warren Buffett made $12.7bn that year which breaks down to $37mm per day and $1.54mm per hour. Now that’s a serious hourly rate.
Is Warren Buffet working 254,000 times harder than someone making $50k a year?
In fact, Warren Buffett says himself that he spends 80% of his day reading! But we will come back to the tactics and strategies these ultra achievers use to be so productive in a minute.
So what gives? How is this possible? What’s the missing ingredient?
The missing piece of the puzzle is LEVERAGE. Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, and all of these titans of industry are masters of leverage. Achieving more by doing less and focusing on what’s important. Warren Buffet is making 254,000x more per hour because he is more high leverage.
The math behind this phenomenon is the 80/20 principle, which pervades huge amounts of our lives describing everything from the distribution of craters on the moon, to the size of files on your hard drive, to rabbit populations, pea pods, and the distribution of wealth of both nations and individuals.
Simply put, the 80/20 principle (which is a “Mental Model,” more on that in a minute) states that a few of your inputs create most of your outputs. A few high leverage activities create the vast majority of the results in your life, and this powerful economic principle, applied many times over, is the math that drives the mammoth differential between Warren Buffets return on time and yours or mine.
The Art of Decision-Making
So now we know that these titans of industry are vastly more high leverage than people who are making millions per year. But what are they doing?
After studying them deeply, interviewing the experts, reading dozens biographies, combing through speeches and articles, and picking apart activities and daily routines — I’ve uncovered the two core strategies these uber-achievers use to become as high leverage as possible.
The first strategy of high leverage thinking is improving your decision-making ability — this is what I call “The Art of Decision-Making.”
Here are five core components of The Art of Decision-Making:
- Use contemplative routines to determine what’s most important to focus on
- Harness the power of compounding by building on your knowledge and getting 1% smarter every day
- Focus on and study things that don’t change or change very slowly over time — master the principles and you can invent the tactics
- Follow the path of worldly wisdom and focus on acquiring multidisciplinary knowledge across academic disciplines like psychology, mathematics, and biology
- Build a toolkit of mental models so that you can better understand reality and achieve their goals.
Lets borrow some wisdom from Charles Duhigg the author of Smarter, Faster, Better and The Power of Habit.
In a recent podcast interview, Charles discussed how research shows that the most common rituals that highly successful people share are what he calls “contemplative routines.”
What actually seems to correlate with success is that the people who are most productive and most successful, they tend to have what researchers refer to as contemplative routines, as habits in their life that push them to think more deeply.
Journaling is a great example of this, because the act of journaling often times forces us to sit down and to try and make sense of how we spent our time recently.
What our goals actually ought to be as opposed to what we happen to just get obsessed with or fixated on right now, and how we should arrange our life so that those priorities, so that our energy and our activity is actually focused on our priorities rather than instantly responding to life’s many sort of busy work request. The basic insight here is that, particularly now, being busy and being productive are not synonymous.” — Charles Duhigg
The Power of Compounding
Improving your ability to think, understand reality, and make better decisions is one of the core principles of high leverage thinking. The more time and energy you invest in your decision-making ability, the more it continues to build and build on itself by harnessing the power of compounding(compounding is another example of a Mental Model, by the way).
Becoming a master at the Art of Decision-making cascades through everything you do. It’s not incremental growth in your knowledge, it’s exponential growth. Einstein described the power of compounding as the “eight wonder of the world” — and if you’ve ever crunched some numbers on a compound interest calculator you know how powerful compounding can be over time.
If you get 1% better at thinking — at understanding how the world works, how human behavior works, how economic systems function, and understanding your own brain — that 1% improvement impacts everything you do. You’re not just going to benefit at work, but when you deal with your spouse, or negotiate the purchase of a new car, or decide where to invest your savings. You’re entire life is essentially a long chain of decisions. Wouldn’t it make sense to invest in the ability to make better decisions and continuously improve that skillset?
These small incremental improvements in decision-making aren’t noticeable at first, but they eventually result in a huge transformation in how you think, act, and understand the world.
Here’s a quote from our dear friend Warren Buffett, when asked what the key to success was he pointed to a stack of books and said:
“Read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it.”
Study Things That Never Change Over Time
A key piece of building a compounding machine of knowledge — that over time will let you vault over almost everyone on the planet in terms of sheer brain power — is focusing on knowledge that doesn’t change or changes very slowly over time.
Many people focus their time and energy on learning rapidly changing tactics, the minutiae, highly specific actions and pieces of advice without a broader context. As Sun Tzu once said “tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat” and Ralph Waldo Emerson said:
“As to methods, there may be a million and then some, but principles are few. The man who grasps principles can successfully select his own methods. The man who tries methods, ignoring principles, is sure to have trouble.”
I’m here to teach you how to be one of the people who masters the principles that govern reality — so that you can wield them to achieve whatever goals you want to achieve.
People gobble up the latest article “10 Things You Can Do To Improve Your Email Opt-In Rate” but the problem with studying knowledge like that is that it changes — it doesn’t give you something to build up and build upon over time — in 18 months all of the advice in that article will be useless. If you spent a year in 2004 reading every book on high performance banner ads — none of that knowledge would be relevant today.
But if you flip that, if you study the strategy — spend your time mastering the core principles that underpin psychology and human behavior, reading things like the book Influence by Robert Cialdini — you can invent marketing tactics on the fly — because you understand the bigger picture. And that knowledge changes very slowly over time — it’s a core foundation that you can build upon and grow from.
This also means that the best kind of knowledge to focus on and spend your time investing in is not ephemeral junk like facebook, twitter, and buzzfeed, but the core pillars of human knowledge and the major academic disciplines, which brings us to the principle of Worldly Wisdom.
The next key component of The Art of Decision-making is cultivating what Charlie Munger (the billionaire business partner of Warren Buffett) calledWorldy Wisdom.
Here’s a great description of the concept of worldly wisdom from Robert Griffin’s book “Charlie Munger: The Complete Investor:”
Munger has adopted an approach to business and life that he refers to as worldly wisdom. Munger believes that by using a range of different models from many different disciplines — psychology, history, mathematics, physics, philosophy, biology, and so on — a person can use thecombined output of the synthesis to produce something that has more value than the sum of its parts. Robert Hagstrom wrote a wonderful book on worldly wisdom entitled Investing: The Last Liberal Art, in which he states that “each discipline entwines with, and in the process strengthens, every other. From each discipline the thoughtful person draws significant mental models, the key ideas that combine to produce a cohesive understanding. Those who cultivate this broad view are well on their way to achieving worldly wisdom.”
Being multidisciplinary means collecting knowledge from lots of different disciplines and areas of life and building an approach to understanding the world that integrates all that knowledge into a cohesive framework.
In order to get what you want you have to understand how to get there, and in order to do that, you have to understand how things work — things like human behavior, economic systems, money, biology, and mathematics. Josh Kaufman explains this beautifully in The Personal MBA:
“Every business fundamentally relies on two factors People and Systems…To understand how businesses work, you must have a firm understanding of how people tend to think and behave — how humans make decisions, act on those decisions, and communicate with others. Recent advances in psychology are revealing why people do the things they do, as well as how to improve our own behavior and work more effectively with others.
Systems, on the other hand, are the invisible structures that hold every business together. At the core, every business is a collection of processes that can be reliably repeated to produce a particular result. By understanding the essentials of how complex systems work, it’s possible to find ways to improve existing systems, whether you’re dealing with a marketing campaign or an automotive assembly line.”
The problem is that too many people have a very narrow focus — they master one piece of the puzzle, say marketing or finance, and think that has all the answers. But reality is messy and complex and interwoven. Most big events in our lives aren’t caused by one simple explanation; they are the result of an interplay of factors.
A multidisciplinary approach intertwines and strengthens itself by enabling you to pull from different disciplines of knowledge and bring the exact tools necessary to understand and solve tough challenges and to achieve complicated and difficult goals. As Peter Bevelin writes in Seeking Wisdom:
“Since no single discipline has all the answers we need to understand and use the big ideas from all the important disciplines: Mathematics, physics, chemistry, engineering, biology, psychology, and rank and use them in order of reliability.”
A Framework of Mental Models
Now its time to go deeper into Mental Models, which we briefly touched on earlier. A mental model is simply a concept, an idea, a tidbit of wisdom that in some way explains how the world works. Mental models are one of the cornerstones of high leverage thinking. In fact, Charlie Munger puts it pretty bluntly:
“Developing the habit of mastering the multiple models which underlie reality is the best thing you can do.”
When a billionaire tells me something is “the best thing I can do” — I listen.And I’ve spent a tremendous amount of time studying billionaires, people like Charlie Munger, and mental models so that you don’t have to.
A few examples of mental models would be concepts like the 80/20 principle and compounding, both of which we discussed earlier, as well as concepts like expected value and base rates from mathematics, notions such as confirmation bias, anchoring, and social proof from psychology, the prisoner’s dilemma from game theory, or the concept of natural selection from biology.
While this may seem a bit overwhelming, the good news is that you don’t have to become an expert in physics and chemistry just to become a high leverage thinker. The whole idea is to master the big ideas . Take the major principles from a 101 textbook and combine them into a framework of mental models that offers a rich and deep tool kit to look at, understand, and manipulate reality to your ends.
The Key Ideas
Remember the core ideas behind the Art of Decision-making:
(1) Use contemplative routines to determine what's most important to focus on
(2) Harness the power of compounding by building on your knowledge and getting 1% smarter every day
(3) Focus on and study things that don’t change or change very slowly over time — master the principles and you can invent the tactics
(4) Follow the path of worldly wisdom and focus on acquiring multidisciplinary knowledge across academic disciplines like psychology, mathematics, and biology
(5) Build a toolkit of mental models so that you can better understand reality and achieve your goals.
When you combine all of these factors, you are putting your brain on a high leverage rocket ship — and with the power of compounding you will start leaving other people in the dust.
But making great decisions is only half the battle. What can the titans of industry teach us about the other key element of being high leverage?
Here’s What Rockefeller & Carnegie Do
We just went deep on The Art of Decision-making — now let’s look at the other big strategy used by high leverage thinkers like Bill Gates, John D. Rockefeller, and Andrew Carnegie — hiring people to replace yourself.
Hiring people and constantly replacing yourself is one of the single greatest ways to continuously gain higher and higher leverage on your time. Too often entrepreneurs get caught up in the trap of having to (or feeling like they have to) do it all themselves. This is a dangerous road to walk — and while it can be useful in the early days — it quickly becomes a detriment and ends up bottlenecking your growth.
You often see the most high leverage people doing things that an average person would think is “wasting money” — like hiring someone to do their grocery shopping, paying for lawn care services, having a maid, hiring a handyman to do the work around your house, or paying for a virtual assistant.But it is exactly because a high leverage persons time has become so valuable — that they cannot possibly fathom investing it in an activity that they could outsource for 1/10th or less of their own hourly rate.
This applies in your business too. Anything that anyone else can do 80% as good as you can — in order to leverage your time as effectively as possible you have an obligation to replace yourself as quickly as you can.
I want to share two of my favorite quotes on this topic from some serious titans of industry.
The first is from the book Andrew Carnegie by David Nasaw:
“When A.B. Farquhar, a Pennsylvania businessman, boasted that he was in his office every morning ‘by seven in the morning’ and was the last one to leave in the evening, Carnegie laughed at him. ‘You must be a lazy man if it takes you ten hours to do a day’s work. . . . What I do . . . is to get good men, and I never give them orders. My directions seldom go beyond suggestions. Here in the morning I get reports from them. Within an hour I have disposed of everything, sent out all of my suggestions, the day’s work is done, and I am ready to go out and enjoy myself.’”
The playbook for success has been out there for a long time — over a hundred years ago some of the most successful individuals in history where sharing their exact strategies for how to leverage your time as effectively as possible. But, Andrew Carnegie was only the second wealthiest person in modern history. Let’s hear from the wealthiest.
The next quote is from John D. Rockefeller (from the book Titan by Ron Chernow) when he was speaking to a young recruit at the Standard Oil offices:
“Has anyone given you the law of these offices? No? It is this: nobody does anything if he can get anybody else to do it . . . As soon as you can, get someone whom you can rely on, train them in the work, sit down, cock up your heels,and think out some way for the Standard Oil to make some money.”
That is high leverage thinking in a nutshell. As soon as you can — find someone you can train, replace yourself, and spend your time thinking, reading, learning, and focusing on the big picture — as Michael Gerber would call it — working on your business not in your business — that is the essence of being becoming high leverage.
As Carnegie notes above — you want to hire good people to replace yourself, and that’s not always easy. Going deep on the hiring practices and strategies is well beyond the scope of this post, but I did want to offer a great resources for that journey. The book “Who: The A Method for Hiring” by Geoff Smart and Randy Street is a great starting point for learning how to both source and evaluate talent when hiring people.
Let Go (Of The Need To Do Everything)
One of the first big steps to replacing yourself is letting go of the need to do everything. Needing to do everything is the same thing as knowingly becoming a bottleneck to your own success. It’s rooted in perfectionism and does nothing but hold you back.
Sadly, this is actually more of a curse for people who are very talented — because they know they can do a great job at every piece of the puzzle — they often can’t tolerate when someone doesn’t do it just as they would have liked. The end result, however, is that these people end up frazzled, trying to do 3 people’s jobs at once, and mired in busy work and minutia that they have to do “just right” — missing the bigger picture and destroying their ability to achieve leverage on their time and output.
The sooner you can let go of the need to be in the middle of everything, andrealize that it’s OK if someone else does it a bit differently — the faster you can start leveraging your time. As Tim Ferriss notes “what you do is infinitely more important than how you do it.”
A good rule of thumb here is that if someone can perform as task 80% as well as you can, go ahead and give it to them and move it off your plate. Peter Drucker makes this point abundantly clear in The Effective Executive:
“[The effective executive’s] first look at the time record makes it abundantly clear that there just is not time enough to do the things the executive himself considers important, himself wants to do, and is himself committed to doing. The only way he can get to the important things is by pushing on others anything that can be done by them at all.”
Design A System — And Let Your Team Execute It
It always amazes me to see the same themes and ideas echoed across centuries. Ray Dalio is describing the same strategy that John D. Rockefeller espouses — designing and managing a machine that lets you get what you want. A key part of that strategy is constantly replacing yourself in any area where you are weak.
Ray Dalio is a billionaire who was named by Time as one of the 100 most influential people in the world and named one of the 100 wealthiest by Forbes. Ray is known for his unrelenting pursuit of truth — and provides great insight, in his book Principles, into why you should constantly focus on understanding your own strengths and weaknesses and replace yourself with someone as quickly as possible:
“Let’s imagine that your goal is to have a winning basketball team. Wouldn’t it be silly to put yourself in a position that you don’t play well? If you did, you wouldn’t get what you want. Whatever your goals are, achieving them works the same way.
If you see that you are not capable of doing something, it is only sensible for you to have someone else do it. In other words, you should look down at you and all the other resources at your disposal and create a “machine” to achieve your goals, remembering that you don’t necessarily need to do anything other than to design and manage the machine to get what you want. If you find that you can’t do something well, fire yourself and get a good replacement!
You shouldn’t be upset that you found out that you are bad at that — you should be happy because you have improved your chances of getting what you want. If you are disappointed because you can’t be the best person to do everything, you are terribly naïve because nobody can do everything well. The biggest mistake most people make is to not see themselves and others objectively.”
You don’t have to be the person working any given part of the machine — but you must be the one designing it and managing it — guiding it towards the goals that you ultimately want to achieve.
Once you have a system and a trusted team — delegate and give them a large dose of responsibility. In the book The Outsiders by William Thorndike the author examines eight companies that outperformed the SP500 by an average factor of 20x — and uncovers the strategies their management team used in order to achieve such incredible results. One of the core strategies used by these unconventional CEOs was described as “delegation to the point of anarchy.”
Constantly Replace Yourself
I consider myself a pretty lazy person — and that’s why I’ve always loved the Bill Gates quote:
“I always choose a lazy person to do a difficult job, because he will find an easy way to do it.”
In fact — I’ve been able to wield my laziness as a weapon to constantly and relentlessly replace myself in anything I am doing that is not my absolute zone of strength. Whenever a task lands on my desk from one source or another — the first thing I ask myself is how can I delegate this, and if I can’t — the next question I answer is how can I build a system so that it’s possible to delegate this in the future.
It is only by continuously asking “it is really necessary that I do this” that you can start to free yourself from the self imposed constraints of perfectionism and move forward with building a system and a team to execute it — freeing your time to focus on bigger and more important issues.
Focus On Your Strengths
By building a team and replacing yourself — you can focus on your true areas of strength, and spend the most possible amount of time living and working in your strengths. By doing this you achieve a double compounding effect — more if your time is spent in your strengths and you are getting better at those strengths (by investing that time in the Art of Decision-making). Once you truly start to move down this path, you begin to achieve more and more leverage.
It’s been said many times, but I think Peter Drucker sums it up wonderfully in the Effective Executive when he says:
“Making strengths productive is therefore much more than an essential of effectiveness. It is a moral imperative, a responsibility of authority and position. To focus on weakness is not only foolish; it is irresponsible. A superior owes it to his organization to make the strength of every one of his subordinates as productive as it can be.
But even more does he owe it to the human beings over whom he exercises authority to help them get the most out of whatever strength they may have. Organization must serve the individual to achieve through his strengths and regardless of his limitations and weaknesses.”
Focusing on your strengths not only lets you be more high leverage — its literally a moral imperative to only do what you’re good at, and surround yourself with other people who’s strengths fill in your weaknesses.
Becoming A High Leverage Thinker
So there you have it — the essence of becoming incredibly high leverage. These are the major tools and strategies used by history’s most successful individuals. The common themes between a 19th century oil barron and a modern day hedge fund master of the universe are no accident — these principles are the timeless strategies that top performers use to become exponentially more effective than an average person.
Just like compound interest, these changes accrue very slowly, almost imperceptibly, at first, but before you know it — you will look back and be shocked at the incredible leaps and bounds you’ve made and find it hard to pinpoint the exact moment of departure, when you become a High Leverage Thinker too.
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Dr. Jude Miller Burke explains how you can turn your childhood hardship into career and life success!
In her latest new book, The Adversity Advantage, Dr. Jude Miller Burke, discusses how childhood trauma and adversity, in all forms ranging from abuse and neglect to poverty and violence, does not have to deter you from attaining personal happiness and career success. Survival skills learned during childhood can be used to enhance career success. Drawing from her background of counseling hundreds of men and women for over 25 years, as well as her most recent phase of research into childhood adversity and work success, Dr. Burke continues to study factors that lead to and interfere with career success and paints a clear picture on how to ensure childhood problems are not compromising your career and how to use hard-won survival skills to your advantage at work.
In her latest book, The Adversity Advantage, Jude Dives Into...
- Adversity affected the men and women at the same rate.
- The Big 5 Personality Traits that enhance success regardless of one’s childhood
- How to Rebuild Shattered Self-Confidence from Past Trauma
- How to Recognize and Resolve Your Emotional Triggers at Work
- The Importance of Setting Healthy Boundaries in Your Career
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Learn more about Dr. Jude Miller Burke - http://judemillerburke.com/
Purchase Her New Book - https://www.amazon.com/Adversity-Adva...
Learning how to make better decisions is a lifelong endeavor. Just as important as learning how to learn is learning WHAT to learn.
In our interview with Shane Parrish from the Farnam Street Blog we discuss the importance of learning things that do not change over time, keeping a decision journal, and how to get started building a mental model toolbox to face any situation. All this and more with Shane Parrish in our full interview below.
Shane is the founder and author of the Farnam Street Blog. His work has been featured in Forbes, The Wall Street Journal and more! He writes on and teaches topics such as decision making, learning, and mental models.
Farnam Street Blog: https://www.farnamstreetblog.com/
Follow Shane on Twitter: @farnamstreet