The American education system trains us to make decisions based on knowing “all” the information. No one consistently gets A’s on tests after internalizing 70% of the material. You want to be 95%+ sure before committing to an answer.
In real life very few decisions are irreversible. It’s rare that you can’t move forward with 70% confidence, course-correcting on the way.
Most post-game analysis reveals the importance of gathering 40-70% of the insight needed before making a decision, but that there is little reason – and even adverse affects – for trying to acquire more than 70% certainty.
Paralysis by analysis can hold you back. You don’t have to be an A student in everything. Life isn’t pass/fail.
Effectiveness is doing things that move you closer to your goals. Efficiency is doing things (whether effective or not) economically.
Efficiency without regard for effectiveness is the default mode of humans, which is why we park our cars close to the gym, only to go inside and walk on a treadmill for 45 minutes.
Technology and automation make it possible to easily apply efficiency to tasks that don’t matter. To counter this, focus on processes and tasks that are worth doing because they move you towards your goals, and only then work to make them more efficient.
An Olympic gold medal winning crew team had a coach that challenged the athletes to a simple but powerful litmus test for every decision they made during training season.
Ask the question: Will this make the boat go faster? Should I stay out late tonight? Eat this doughnut? Skip my next workout? It doesn’t take a high IQ to derive the answer to a question that precise.
What life goal is meaningful enough to you that you can create your own version of this question?
Being an intellectually curious obsessive nutcase when it comes to human performance, I consume a lot of new information. The high cost of task-switching between deep work and consumption makes it a bad idea to consume info haphazardly. Here’s what I do instead:
– Automatically or manually move content to the pocket app
– Consume blogs, articles, podcasts, etc. during a scheduled “reading list” appointments I make throughout the week
Without rules and systems for important things, bad habits form – or at the very least, good ones don’t. Batching and scheduling tasks rather than waiting until I “have time” has proven useful.
It saddens me to hear people say “I’m just a [insert job title]”. I sense that some don’t convey (or even feel) “passion” for the work they do. Here are multiple ways to think and be passionate about your work, even if that work doesn’t seem interesting:
– being passionate about your actual work (the obvious one)
– being motivated by results (e.g., sales)
– the love of solving hard problems
– the ability to support/collaborate with coworkers, colleagues, customers
– variety of people, businesses, industries, outcomes
– constant learning opportunities
– a chance to improve lives, change minds, plant positive seeds
For most of my adult life my operating strategy has been:
1) Be open to multiple ideas and execute on the best ones
2) Keep doing what works
3) Stop doing and learn from what doesn’t
It occurs to me that no real growth can happen with each success, as by definition I’m not changing anything. Only when we make mistakes do we have a chance to reflect and grow.
Ray Dalio, one of the world’s most successful investors, is obsessed with post-game mistake analysis, and summarizes it as: “pain plus reflection equals progress.”
To be authentic means first to be fiercely self-aware, which means you NEVER lie to yourself. It means you develop genuine relationships such that both people are better off. It means you’re mindful and present.
You’ll be less stressed as there will be fewer (or no) discrepancies between what you actually are and what you think you need to be to gain respect from people (some of whom don’t matter). You’ll spend more time with people who encourage you to be you.
It means wherever you go, you’ll be celebrated, not just tolerated. That includes alone time.