There is a principle in quantum physics called Heisenburg’s Uncertainty Principle or Uncertainty Principle. It’s an interesting catch 22 that can be used as a metaphor. The uncertainty principle begins with the duality of matter, being both particle and wave. It states that you can never simultaneously know the exact position and exact speed or momentum of an object. As you measure the position of an object, measuring the wave properties of that object become less accurate. In contrast, as you measure the momentum using the wave properties, the exact position becomes more abstract. This particle wave duality is intriguing because we experience this situationally. Our very lives take on this duality as we try to both understand the momentum or speed we are going as well as the position we are standing in today. Considering the momentum, we look to our future and how simple actions, repeated habits, and big decisions will impact our singular position. We also look at who we are and our lives today and try to understand what that means toward the direction we are heading. It takes courage to address this ever present dilemma because as you get an accurate picture of one property, you lose the accuracy of the other.
God will not have his work made manifest by cowards
The courage to stand up when you’ve been knocked down. Courage to pursue into the unknown and pursue your dreams. Creating something new for the first time and showing it to the world. Putting yourself out there, for anyone to judge. That’s what it takes and God will not have his work made manifest by cowards. No pursuit worth embarking on required peace and tranquility. No adventure or mission was ever paved with the comfort of stability. But how do you know when the pursuit is worth the challenge? Prayer, mentor guidance, knowing your purpose, guiding principles, and gut.
I’ve been keeping a running list of principles or mental models that can act as guideposts. As you read and remember more of these, they will show up as applicable in your life. Any way you can find to give yourself an edge on decision making is a good thing. This certainly is one approach I use to make less decisions.
Wisdom Acquisition is a moral duty
Without lifetime learning, you have nothing.
Method of learning
You can progress only when you learn the method of learning
A man who doesn’t know what happens before he was born goes through life as a child. – Cicero
Avoid sloth and unreliability. It doesn’t matter your virtue if you are unreliable
I’m not entitled to have an opinion on this subject until I can state the arguments against my position better than the people who support it.
It’s not necessary to hope to persevere
Self-Pity is never an answer
Self-serving bias is real and needs to be avoided. But always expect it in others.
Only work for people you admire
Appeal to others interest
Just in Time vs. Just in Case
Retain information just in time not just in case. If a book is just in case, notate it on the “to read” list and pick something up you can apply. The same goes for articles, documentaries, etc.
Routines are required for life. Checklists routines prevent many errors.
Get a lot of practice into the hands of the people with the greatest aptitude to learn and the greatest tendency to be learning machines.
2 Kinds of Knowledge
Real knowledge – Those who have done the work
Memorized knowledge – regurgitated with no substance
You must follow where you have intense interest
Anticipate trouble and be prepared if it comes
Ask the opposite of your problem. Often by considering what we want to avoid rather than what we want to get, we come up with better solutions.
Fail to disprove instead of proving something true. Conformation bias is a deeply ingrained mental habit, both energy-conserving and comfortable, to look for confirmations of long-held wisdom rather than violations. Instead, try and root out precisely the opposite.
Circle of confidence:
Identify the areas where you truly are an expert. Know the edge of your own competency. When making an informed decision, if anything falls outside of that circle find an expert to help you make the decision.
It is vanity to do with more, what can be done with less. An idea should be a simple as possible, but no simpler.
We should not attribute to malice that which is more easily explained by stupidity.
Second order thinking
In all human systems and most complex systems, the second layer of effects often dwarfs the first layer, yet often goes unconsidered. In other words, we must consider that effects have effects. Second-order thinking is best illustrated by the idea of standing on your tiptoes at a parade: Once one person does it, everyone will do it in order to see, thus negating the first tiptoer. Now, however, the whole parade audience suffers on their toes rather than standing firmly on their whole feet.
The map is not the territory
The map of reality is not reality itself. There will always be an imperfect relationship between reality and the models we use to represent and understand it.
Draw X Promotion = Yield
A way to logically carry out a test in one’s own head that would be very difficult or impossible to perform in real life. Einstein imagining himself traveling on a beam of light in order to solve the problem of relativity.
The market is like a moody neighbor, sometimes waking up happy and sometime waking up sad/mad. Your job as an investor is to take advantage of him in his bad moods and sell to him in his good moods.
The world is defined by probabilities, not deterministic ones. We are wise to ascribe odds to more or less probable events when making decisions about the future.
Though the human brain has trouble comprehending it, much of the world is composed of random, non-sequential, non-ordered events. We are “fooled” by random effects when we attribute causality to things that are actually outside of our control.
The “resting position” of common sense, whereby the burden of proof falls on assertions to the contrary. Given the problem of opportunity costs and limited time and energy, a default status is nearly always necessary to avoid wasting time.
Compounding is the process by which we add interest to a fixed sum, which then earns interest on the previous sum and the newly added interest, and then earns interest on that amount, and so on ad infinitum.
Multiplying by zero
Any reasonably educated person knows that any number multiplied by zero, no matter how large the number, is still zero. This is true in human systems as well as mathematical ones. In some systems, a failure in one area can negate great effort in all other areas. As simple multiplication would show, fixing the “zero” often has a much greater effect than does trying to enlarge the other areas.
The Bayesian method is a method of thought (named for Thomas Bayes) whereby one takes into account all prior relevant probabilities and then incrementally updates them as newer information arrives. This method is especially productive given the fundamentally non-deterministic world we experience: We must use prior odds and new information in combination to arrive at our best decisions. This is not necessarily our intuitive decision-making engine.
Chaos Dynamics (Sensitivity to Initial Conditions)
In a world such as ours, governed by chaos dynamics, small changes (perturbations) in initial conditions have massive downstream effects as near-infinite feedback loops occur; this phenomenon is also called the butterfly effect. This means that some aspects of physical systems (like the weather more than a few days from now) as well as social systems (the behavior of a group of human beings over a long period) are fundamentally unpredictable.
We find that in most systems there are irreducible quantitative properties, such as complexity, minimums, time, and length. Below the irreducible level, the desired result simply does not occur. One cannot get several women pregnant to reduce the amount of time needed to have one child, and one cannot reduce a successfully built automobile to a single part. These results are, to a defined point, irreducible.
Tragedy of the Commons
A concept introduced by the economist and ecologist Garrett Hardin, the Tragedy of the Commons states that in a system where a common resource is shared, with no individual responsible for the wellbeing of the resource, it will tend to be depleted over time. The Tragedy is reducible to incentives: Unless people collaborate, each individual derives more personal benefit than the cost that he or she incurs, and therefore depletes the resource for fear of missing out.
Gresham’s Law, named for the financier Thomas Gresham, states that in a system of circulating currency, forged currency will tend to drive out real currency, as real currency is hoarded and forged currency is spent. We see a similar result in human systems, as with bad behavior driving out good behavior in a crumbling moral system, or bad practices driving out good practices in a crumbling economic system. Generally, regulation and oversight are required to prevent results that follow Gresham’s Law.
Via Negativa – Omission/Removal/Avoidance of Harm
In many systems, improvement is at best, or at times only, a result of removing bad elements rather than of adding good elements. This is a credo built into the modern medical profession: First, do no harm. Similarly, if one has a group of children behaving badly, removal of the instigator is often much more effective than any form of punishment meted out to the whole group.
Fragility – Robustness – Antifragility
Popularized by Nassim Taleb, the sliding scale of fragility, robustness, and antifragility refers to the responsiveness of a system to incremental negative variability. A fragile system or object is one in which additional negative variability has a disproportionately negative impact, as with a coffee cup shattering from a 6-foot fall, but receiving no damage at all (rather than 1/6th of the damage) from a 1-foot fall. A robust system or object tends to be neutral to the additional negativity variability, and of course, an antifragile system benefits: If there were a cup that got stronger when dropped from 6 feet than when dropped from 1 foot, it would be termed antifragile.
The safest way to get what you want is to deserve what you want. Deliver what you would want to buy if you were the customer.
Evaluate Than Empower
- Knowledge – Think about what people need to know in order to do anything you intend to give them.
- Skill – Nothing is more frustrating than being asked to do things for which you have no ability.
- Desire – No amount of skill, knowledge, or potential can help a person succeed if he doesn’t have the desire to be successful.
Here are the literal next actions I used to walk through this process. I’d be interested to know how it goes for you.
- Read this list weekly
- Apply the principles to your life