Saturday, May 8, 2021

Sports Psychology for Top Performers

Sharing an interesting article this week on peak performance, the link for the full article is at the end of the mail.

There are many lessons that entrepreneurs can learn from athletes, and vice versa. Sports psychology, and ideas like mental imagery, performance routines, and focus, for example, can transfer over perfectly to business.

If you’re an entrepreneur, a peak performer, a businessman, or someone interested in becoming one, you will most likely be familiar with a certain phenomenon that is popular in the business world: the connection between business, sports, and war.

The works from Machiavelli, Sun Tzu, Marcus Aurelius, Napoleon, etc. are discussed in the business world. Quotes from Mike Tyson, Mohamed Ali, Rafael Nadal, Pele, etc. are often used as motivation. Strategies used in the business world by Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Amancio Ortega, etc. end with the total destruction of rivals…

There are many connections, similarities, and common underlying principles between sports, war, and business. More than we could ever write in one single essay.

The main connection between the three is that they represent instances of peak human competition and rivalry. And when there is competition, there are winners and losers.

One of the key aspects that differentiate winners from losers, and one we can learn from, is mentality and psychology. Specifically, to how peak performers across different fields learn from each other and apply mental models from each field to their skill stack.

However, athletes are some of the greatest peak performers in the world, and they are both alive and have made many mistakes we can learn from. They have many more opportunities for iteration and feedback loops than the rest, which is why sports psychology is highly interesting.

The main lesson we can gain from them and that we can emulate is their mentality and psychology, which is what this essay will expand on.

According to Foster, there are five major skills related to sport psychology that transfer from sport to business. Some of these sport psychology principles and techniques can be applied in a large variety of business settings, leadership, and teamwork. These skills she identified in regards to mental training are:

  1. Mental imagery
  2. Performance routines
  3. Positive self-talk
  4. Activation control strategies
  5. Focus and sustaining attention

Mental Imagery in Sports Psychology

Athletes are not only physical beings, half of their work is mental. Mental imagery, also known as visualization, is mental rehearse of practice routines or different scenarios one can be subject to during the competition.

The greatest of athletes all have experiences with mental imagery as a key part of their mental training. In fact, visualization and mental imagery have their scientific explanation as to why they work and why we should incorporate them into our skill stack as athletes do.

The purposeful practice and rehearsal of different mental situations applied in sports and in learning skills transfer perfectly well into the business world and entrepreneurial settings.

Instead of rehearsing for your pre-game walk-through, you rehearse your meetings with VCs for potential funding. Instead of mentally going through different scenarios of the game, you go through different scenarios for your business and team.

The fact is, visualizing the process (not the result) in our minds helps fire the neurons that are fired when actually engaging in the process. The possibilities of rehearsing and practicing mentally, every day, should be part of the self-mastered individual’s skill stack.

Performance Routines

A key mental aspect that athletes engage in that entrepreneurs can learn is related to performance and pre-performance routines. Pre-performance routines consist of personal routines that serve the purpose to optimize preparation for performance.

Performance routines shouldn’t be confused with superstitions, like entering the football field and touching the goal post for better luck. But they can include exactly that: entering the field and touching the goal post.

The main point behind performance routines is to add familiarity and a sense of control before engaging in the event. The sequence of steps and actions followed to allow for the athlete to enter the right mindset and focus on the activity at hand, something that is key in regards to sports psychology.

For the entrepreneur, entering a football field and touching the goal post doesn’t apply. However, the entrepreneurs and peak performers can have a checklist to go over before starting work, or mental rehearsing and breathing, or whatever personalized routine which works for them to add familiarity and focus.

Positive Self-talk

Positive self-talk is a tricky subject to write about, mainly due to how easy it is to go off-topic and ignore reality. Correctly seeing the reality of a situation and being slight “irrationally confident” with yourself is a hard balance to strike.

Athletes’ self-talk is powerful. The conversation and dialogue that you have with yourself greatly determine your chances of success. In regards to sports psychology, any athlete that creates pre-emptive excuses about why they won’t make their shot successfully will most likely not make the shot correctly.

Listen to an interview by successful athletes and they all are confident in themselves, their skill, and their preparation. And they are confident precisely because of their preparation and their will to succeed, which allows them to train hard, smart, and pursue smart goals.

In fact, their self-belief and self-talk are so overly confident that it borders irrationality. They all have stories of many who doubted them while they were training, only to be finally redeemed once they win.

However, we all know of people who are extremely confident and have positive self-talk that has no tie to reality and is based on nothing, just delusion. The athlete is confident due to the training and preparation. Without it, their belief is not true to anything real or tangible.

For the entrepreneur, positive self-talk and self-belief need to be similar to athletes’ self-talk: based on preparation, talent, skill, and determination. The entrepreneur who believes in himself has to work hard to make the rest of the world believe in him just as much as he does.

When we adopt positive self-talk, we can properly start to set the systems in place to achieve all the goals we desire. For the athlete, the positive self-talk leads to training, because the athlete believes that he or she can achieve success, setting the systems needed to achieve said success.

For the entrepreneur, positive self-talk leads to trying things out, setting up a business, to learning new skills, etc. This positive self-talk and self-belief lead to the creation of various systems and routines, which can lead to eventual success.

Activation Control Strategies In Sports Psychology

As mentioned above, one of the core benefits of visualization or mental imagery is related to performance readiness plans.

Performance readiness plans consist of planning for various different scenarios that can occur during a match, performance, duel, competition, etc. of an athlete. To quote Mike Tyson, “everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth” (didn’t we mention above that athlete were being quoted in many different settings?).

Athletes who have mastered sports psychology prepare for many different scenarios because nothing ever goes to plan. Whoever plans and trains for the scenario that ends up happening on the playing field has a higher chance at success than who doesn’t.

For the athlete, this means to train for in situations of disadvantage, to plan for offensive and defensive strategies, to study the rival or the competition and create counter plans, etc. For the entrepreneur, performance readiness plans can be applied to a wide array of situations.

Entrepreneurs do not have the luxury of playing a game with defined rules and a closed environment like athletes do, which means their performance readiness plans cannot be as detailed or specific.

No one can have a plan for every value the stock market will have, nor a plan for every price of every component of your business, etc.

While we cannot have a plan for every price of the stock market, we can have a plan or two of worst-case scenarios of the economy. Or a plan for when a pandemic occurs and we have to be locked inside for a few months. We can even also have a plan for when things do not go according to plan…

The point is, the entrepreneur does not have a set of rules for the game, but the entrepreneur can plan, get ready, and prepare for different scenarios as the athlete does. If for the athlete almost nothing ever goes to plan, why should it be different for the entrepreneur?

Focus & Sustaining Attention

Athletes are masters of focus and sustaining attention, as well as achieving long-term goals. How they approach every training session determines how they will perform on the day of competition. How they maintain the discipline to not miss a day of training, to not miss a day of proper diet, or to not miss a night or enough sleep and recovery are examples of the sacrifices they make to achieve their goals.

Motivation is not something that lasts for long. Discipline does. For athletes to keep sight and not lose focus on their long-term goals they need discipline and systems. For the entrepreneur, it is no different.

An entrepreneur needs just as much discipline and focuses as the athlete, if not even more. Way too many projects end up in failures due to lack of focus. Way too many talented people end up wasting their potential due to lack of focus and direction.

There are many lessons that entrepreneurs can learn from athletes, and vice versa. Being some of the top peak performers in the world, athletes train both their body and mind to excel and perform at the highest level for long periods of time.

For entrepreneurs, every slight edge over the competition can become crucial at the later stages of the game. Applying mental models and systems from athletes can be just that difference that makes or breaks a business.

Source –

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Becoming A Better Reader

Sharing a good article on becoming a better reader. I have taken the liberty of shortening the original piece and still keeping its essence, the link to the original is at the end of the mail.

Why is it that some people seem to be able to read a book once and remember every detail of it for life, while others struggle to recall even the title a few days after putting down a book?

The answer is simple but not easy.

It’s not what they read. It’s how they read. Good reading habits not only help you read more but help you read better.

“I cannot remember the books I have read any more than the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me.”

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Active Vs. Passive Readers

Passive readers forget things almost as quickly as they read them. Active readers, on the other hand, retain the bulk of what they read. Another difference between these two types of readers is how the quantity of reading affects them differently. Passive readers who read a lot are not much further ahead than passive readers who read a little. If you’re an active reader, however, things are different.

The more that active readers read, the better they get. They develop a latticework of mental models to hang ideas on, further increasing retention. Active readers learn to differentiate good arguments and structures from bad ones. Active readers make better decisions because they know how to get the world to do the bulk of the work for them. Active readers avoid problems. Active readers have another advantage: The more they read the faster they read.

Effective Reading Habits

To get the most out of each book we read it is vital to have a plan for recording, reflecting on, and putting into action the conclusions we draw from the information we consume. In this article, we will show you how to get maximum benefit from every single page you read.

First, let’s clear up some common misconceptions about reading. Here’s what I know:

·         Quality matters more than quantity. If you read just one book a week but fully appreciate and absorb it, you’ll be far better off than someone who skims through half the library without paying much attention.

·         Speedreading is bullshit. The only way to read faster is to actually read more.

·         Book summary services miss the point. A lot of companies charge ridiculous prices for access to summaries written by some 22-year-old with exactly zero experience in the subject matter of the book. This misses the point of not only reading but how we learn.

·         Fancy apps and tools are not needed. A notebook, index cards, and a pen will do just fine. (For those of you wanting a simple and searchable online tool to help, Evernote is the answer.)

·         Don’t read stuff we find boring. 

·         Finishing the book is optional. You should start a lot of books and only finish a few of them.

A lot of success in reading boils down to preparation. What you do before you read matters way more than you think.

Filter Your Reading

There are no rules when it comes to choosing books. We don’t have to read bestsellers, or classics, or books everyone else raves about. In fact, there’s an advantage to be gained from reading things other people are not reading. This isn’t school and there are no required reading lists. Focus on some combination of books that: (1) stand the test of time; (2) pique your interest; or (3) resonate with your current situation.

The more interesting and relevant we find a book, the more likely we are to remember its contents in the future.

Know Your Why

What are you reading this book for? Entertainment? To understand something or someone you don’t know? To get better at your job? To improve your health? To learn a skill? To help build a business? You have to have some idea of what you want to get from the book. You don’t just want to collect endless amounts of useless information. That will never stick.

Intelligent Skimming

Before starting to read a book (particularly non-fiction), skim through the index, contents page, preface, and inside the jacket to get an idea of the subject matter.  (This article on how to read a book is a brilliant introduction to skimming.) The bibliography can also indicate the tone of a book. The best authors often read hundreds of books for each one they write, so a well-researched book should have a bibliography full of interesting texts. After you’ve read the book, peruse the bibliography and make a note of any books you want to read next.

Take Notes

Making notes is an important foundation for reflecting and integrating what you read into your mind. As you are reading a book, write your chapter summary right at the end of the chapter. If your reading session is over, this helps synthesize what you just read. When you pick up the book tomorrow start by reading the previous two chapter summaries to help prime your mind to where you are in the book.

Stay Focused

Decide that for the time you will be reading, you will focus on the book and nothing else. No quick Twitter checks. No emails. No cell phone. No TV. No staring into midair. Understanding and absorbing a book requires deep focus, especially if the subject matter is dense or complex. Remember, we are aiming for active reading. Active reading requires focus and the ability to engage with the author.

Mark Up the Book

Most of us were taught as children to treat books as something sacred – no folding the page corners, and no writing in the margins, ever. However, if you want to remember what you read, forget about keeping books pristine. I’ve spent a lot of time helping my kids unlearn the rule that books are not to be written in.

Build a Vivid Mental Picture

Building vivid mental pictures is one of the most effective techniques for remembering anything, not least what we read. When you come across an important passage or concept, pause and visualize it. Make the picture as salient and distinctive as possible.

Make Mental Links

Books do not exist in a vacuum. Every concept or fact can be linked to countless others. Making an effort to form our own links is a fruitful way to better remember what we read.

Keep Mental Models in Mind

Mental models enable us to better understand and synthesize books. Some of the key ways we can use them include:

·         Confirmation bias: Which parts of this book am I ignoring? Does this book confirm my opinions? (Okay, but does it actually affirm your beliefs or are you just seeing what you want to see? If you cannot think of a single point in the book that you disagreed with, confirmation bias is perchance distorting your reasoning.)

·         Bayesian updating: What opinions should I change in light of this book? How can I update my worldview using the information in it? Keep in mind the words of John Maynard Keynes: “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?”

·         Pareto principle: Which parts of this book are most important and contain the most information? If I had to cut 99% of the words in this book, what would I leave? Many authors have to reach a certain word or page count, resulting in pages (or even entire chapters) containing fluff and padding. Even the best non-fiction books are often longer than is imperative to convey their ideas. (Note that the Pareto principle is less applicable for fiction books.)

·         Leverage: How can I use lessons from this book to gain a disproportionate advantage? Can I leverage this new knowledge in a tangible way?

·         Incentives: What motivates the characters or the author? What are they seeking? What is their purpose? Here’s how Kurt Vonnegut described the importance of incentives in books: “When I used to teach creative writing, I would tell the students to make their characters want something right away – even if it’s only a glass of water. Characters paralyzed by the meaninglessness of modern life still have to drink water from time to time.”

·         Availability bias: Are the books I have recently read affecting how I perceive this one? How are my neoteric experiences shaping my reading? Am I assigning undue importance to parts of this book because they are salient and memorable?

·         Stereotyping tendency: Am I unconsciously fitting the author, characters, or book in general into a particular category? Or is the author stereotyping their characters? Remember, there is no such thing as a good stereotype.

·         Social proofHow is social proof — the number of copies sold, bestseller status, the opinions of others — affecting my perception of this book? Is the author using social proof to manipulate readers? It is not unusual for authors to buy their way onto bestseller lists, providing social proof which then leads to substantial sales. As a result, mediocre books can end up becoming popular. It’s a classic case of the emperor having no clothes, which smart readers know to look out for.

·         Narrative instinctIs the author distorting real events to form a coherent narrative? This is common in biographies, memoirs, and historical texts.

·         Survivorship bias: Is this (non-fiction) book a representation of reality or is the author failing to account for base rates? Survivorship bias is abundant in business, self-help, and biographical books. A particular case of a successful individual or business might be held as the rule, rather than the exception.

·         Utility: If a book offers advice, does it have practical applications? At what point do diminishing returns set in?

Stop When Bored

As a general rule, people who love reading never, ever finish a crappy book.

Nassim Taleb also emphasizes the importance of never finishing a substandard book:

The minute I was bored with a book or a subject, I moved to another one, instead of giving up on reading altogether – when you are limited to the school material and you get bored, you have a tendency to give up and do nothing or play hooky out of discouragement… The trick is to be bored with a specific book, rather than with the act of reading. So the number of the pages absorbed could grow faster than otherwise. And you find gold, so to speak, effortlessly, just as in rational but undirected trial-and-error-based research.

The Learning Process

Most people think that consuming information is the same as learning information. No idea could be further from the truth.

The basic process of learning consists of reflection and feedback. We learn ideas gained through experiences – ours or others – that remain unchallenged unless we make the time to reflect on them. If you read something and you don’t make time to think about what you’ve read, your conclusions will be shaky.

Apply What You’ve Learned

So, you’ve finished the book. Now what? How can you use what you have learned? Don’t just go away with a vague sense of “oh yeah, I should totally do what that author says.” Take the time to make a plan and decide how to implement key lessons from the book.

The Feynman Technique

The Feynman technique is named after the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman. You can think of it as an algorithm for guaranteed learning. There are four simple steps: choose a concept; teach it to a toddler; identify gaps and go back to the source material; and review and simplify.

Make Your Notes Searchable

Reread (If Necessary)

Great books should be read more than once. While rereading them can seem like a waste of time because there are so many other books to read, this is a misunderstanding of the learning process. The best time to start rereading a great book is right after finishing. The goal is not to read as many books as possible; I’ve tried that and it doesn’t work. The goal is to gain as much wisdom as you can.

Rereading good books is of tremendous importance if we want to form lasting memories of the contents. Repetition is crucial for building memories. As Seneca wrote: “You should be extending your stay among writers whose genius is unquestionable, deriving constant nourishment from them if you wish to gain anything from your reading that will find a lasting place in your mind.”

Source –

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Not afraid of being wrong

Sharing an interesting article on keeping an open mind and holding strong opinions weakly.

The smartest person I've known didn't, on the surface, appear to be that smart. She used qualifiers like "I think." "Seems." "Suggests." "Indicates."
When asked for her opinion she could appear unsure, frequently asking for feedback and shifting the conversation to what other people thought.
To make perception matters worse, she was quick to change her positions. New facts? New decisions. New situations? New strategies. New agendas? New tactics. She changed her mind -- a lot.
In time, I realized those behaviors masked a staggering intellect. She wasn't just "book smart" -- although she definitely was -- but smart smart. Insightful. Perceptive. Clever. Smart about things. Smart about people.
In time, I realized those behaviors were the sign of a staggering intellect.

The rarely mentioned flip side of the cognitive bias described by social psychologists Dunning and Kruger in which people believe they're smarter and more skilled than they actually are, is that people with high ability tend to underestimate how good they are.

High-ability individuals tend to underrate their relative competence, and at the same time assume that tasks that are easy for them are just as easy for other people. The smarter you are, the less you think you know -- because you realize just how much there is to actually know.
That didn't mean she suffered from Jeff Haden syndrome, the inner belief that she was inadequate and mediocre despite evidence that showed she was highly skilled and extremely successful.

As Adam Grant writes -
Great thinkers don't harbor doubts because they're impostors. They maintain doubts because they know we're all partially blind and they're committed to improving their sight. They don't boast about how much they know; the marvel at how little they understand. They're aware that each answer raises new questions, and the quest for knowledge is never finished. The mark of lifelong learners is recognizing that they can learn something from everyone they meet.

That didn't mean she was indecisive or unsure, even though she often changed her mind.

According to Jeff Bezos :
The smartest people are constantly revising their understanding, reconsidering a problem they thought they'd already solved. They're open to new points of view, new information, new ideas, contradictions, and challenges to their own way of thinking.
To Bezos, consistency of thought isn't a positive trait. Bezos encourages those around him to seek new data, new analyses, new perspectives -- to have "strong opinions, which are weakly held."

Because wisdom isn't found in certainty. Wisdom is knowing that while you might know a lot, there's also a lot you don't know.

Wisdom is trying to find out what is right rather than trying to be right.
Wisdom is realizing when you're wrong, and backing down graciously.
Great thinkers aren't afraid to be wrong. Great thinkers aren't afraid to admit they don't have all the answers. Great thinkers aren't afraid to say "I think" instead of "I know."
As Grant writes, "Arrogance leaves us blind to our weaknesses. Humility is a reflective lens: it helps us see them clearly. Confident humility is a corrective lens: it enables us to overcome those weaknesses."
Humility enables us to embrace the fact that we already know what we know.
What we don't know is what other people know.
At least not yet.

Friday, March 26, 2021

The Many Life Lessons From Sports

This week a blog that has been a work in progress for some time but and still feels incomplete!! The many lessons that sports can teach us for life and vice-versa.  

You are only as good as your today’s performance. What you did yesterday does not count for much.

The higher you go the more intense the competition.

Coaches are very important. So is the ecosystem. Choose well.

Practicing hard is important. Rest is equally important.

Both technique and temperament are important. Both can be improved.

When performing at the highest level, tiny but improvements are a huge edge.

You will be lucky on some days, not always.

Setbacks are a part of the package.

How we handle ourselves in victory and defeat speaks volumes of our character.

Killer instinct is imp. So is respect for the competition.

Short cuts will take you ahead for some time, but will not take you far.

One needs to make sacrifices – social life, family time, work life balance – if one needs to operate at the highest level.

Part of the performance is art, part science.

Goals are important, having a plan to achieve those goals is equally imp.

More often than not, the margin between no 1, 2 and 3 is not very high.

It is important to give back more than what we gained from our coaches and the ecosystem.

The only competition is with yourself.

Records are meant to be broken.

Talent and hard work is an unbeatable combination.

Even In an individual sport, its always the team’s effort that matters.     

It is important to figure out what you are good at and then keep getting better at it.

Unpredictability is an integral part of the package. Both underdogs and favourites sometimes fail to live up to their reputations.

Wishing you and your loved ones a very happy, joyful and safe Holi, please feel free to add to the above list as per your observations and experiences.

Friday, March 12, 2021

Intelligence and Wisdom

God give me the strength to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.

Sharing a forward this time, source unknown. The subtle differences between intelligence and wisdom.

Intelligence leads to arguments.
Wisdom leads to settlements.

Intelligence is power of will.
Wisdom is power OVER  will.

Intelligence is heat, it burns.
Wisdom is warmth, it comforts.

Intelligence is pursuit of knowledge, it tires the seeker.
Wisdom is pursuit of truth, it inspires the seeker.

Intelligence is holding on.
Wisdom is letting go.

Intelligence leads you.
Wisdom guides you.

Intelligence knows everything.
Wisdom knows that there is still something to learn.

Intelligence always tries to prove his point.
Wisdom knows there really is no point.

Intelligence freely gives unsolicited advice.
Wisdom keeps his counsel until all options are considered.

Intelligence understands what is being said.
Wisdom understands what is left unsaid.

Intelligence speaks to say something.
Wisdom speaks when there is something to say.

Intelligence sees  everything as relative.
Wisdom sees everything as related.

Intelligence tries to control the mass flow.
Wisdom navigates the mass flow.

Intelligence preaches.
Wisdom reaches.

These days when phones are smart and devices are intelligent, being wise seems to be a good choice 🙂🙂

Friday, February 26, 2021

The Currencies Of Time And Attention

The Currencies Of Time And Attention

Nothing vast enters the lives of mortals without a curse – Sophocles      

This time condensed wisdom from a very wise man (not me 😊). Nir Eyal is the bestselling author of Hooked (2014) and Indistractable (2019) and I came across a very good podcast of Nir and Shane Parrish (Farnam Street) discussing Mastering Indistraction. While I have tried my best to summarise the key points, I would encourage you to check out the podcast episode yourself, link at the end of the blog.

The timing was particularly apt as I have been wrestling with the question of screen time and how much of it is good, both for us and our kids. Like most things in life, there is no correct answer and the truth is always nuanced, but the podcast does offer a very balanced view and helps provide a good perspective. 

Many of us cannot choose to be away from our phones. Technology is a great enabler for us to lead better lives, get more done and expand our horizons. However some of the same technologies also lead us to be less productive and hold us from being our best. So how does one deal with this?

Most of the distractions beings from within. It is not dependent on external factors but internal factors. Boredom, fatigue, uncertainity, anxiety. Time management requires pain management. All human behaviour is driven by avoiding discomfort. We can choose to avoid discomfort in a healthy or unhealthy way.

Addiction and distraction are different things. We need to gain back control. Traction is the opposite of distraction. Any distraction can be converted into traction by scheduling time for it so that we can do things as per our agenda.  

We need to make choices. We can choose to spend 1 hour on social media or 2 hours on the play station. That is not distraction. Distraction is what takes us away from what we are doing and what we want to do.

We pay attention. We spend our time. No wonder we have been always told that time is money. No it is not just a saying. This is real. Spend your time wisely on things that are important to you.

If something is really important and needs to be done, it needs to be on your calendar, not on your to do list. Putting time against a task helps to finish it by actually spending time on it. Tip – filling up your calendar with things is not good either.

Blamers – social media is addictive, my boss/spouse/kids. Shamers – I have a short attention span/there must be something wrong with me. Claimer – while we can’t change how we feel, how do we react to an emotional trigger can be changed, with practice. The podcast has some very good tips on dealing with external and internal triggers.  

Indistractible is not about never getting distracted. It is about realising the triggers that lead to distraction and doing things to get the control back. External triggers, internal triggers, lack of planning.

Work is Reflective or Reactive. Reactive time keeps you busy responding to triggers. Reflective work is difficult and is a big competitive edge. It is a good idea to keep time throughout the day to respond to mails and messages. It is not such a great idea to keep looking for the latest mail and message to respond to.

This is in no way a template. Please pick up and implement what works for you. And while I haven’t read the books yet, I plan to correct that very soon 😊

Source –

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Inversion - The Crucial Thinking Skill

Sharing a brilliant article from James Clear, the bestselling author of Atomic Habits.

The ancient Stoic philosophers like Marcus Aurelius, Seneca, and Epictetus regularly conducted an exercise known as a premeditatio malorum, which translates to a “premeditation of evils.”

The goal of this exercise was to envision the negative things that could happen in life. For example, the Stoics would imagine what it would be like to lose their job and become homeless or to suffer an injury and become paralyzed or to have their reputation ruined and lose their status in society.

The Stoics believed that by imagining the worst case scenario ahead of time, they could overcome their fears of negative experiences and make better plans to prevent them. While most people were focused on how they could achieve success, the Stoics also considered how they would manage failure. What would things look like if everything went wrong tomorrow? And what does this tell us about how we should prepare today?

This way of thinking, in which you consider the opposite of what you want, is known as inversion. When I first learned of it, I didn't realize how powerful it could be. As I have studied it more, I have begun to realize that inversion is a rare and crucial skill that nearly all great thinkers use to their advantage.

How Great Thinkers Shatter the Status Quo with Inversion
The German mathematician Carl Jacobi made a number of important contributions to different scientific fields during his career. In particular, he was known for his ability to solve hard problems by following a strategy of man muss immer umkehren or, loosely translated, “invert, always invert.” Jacobi believed that one of the best ways to clarify your thinking was to restate math problems in inverse form. He would write down the opposite of the problem he was trying to solve and found that the solution often came to him more easily.

Inversion is a powerful thinking tool because it puts a spotlight on errors and roadblocks that are not obvious at first glance. What if the opposite was true? What if I focused on a different side of this situation? Instead of asking how to do something, ask how to not do it. Great thinkers, icons, and innovators think forward and backward. Occasionally, they drive their brain in reverse. They consider the opposite side of things. Occasionally, they drive their brain in reverse. This way of thinking can reveal compelling opportunities for innovation.

Inversion is often at the core of great art. At any given time there is a status quo in society and the artists and innovators who stand out are often the ones who overturn the standard in a compelling way. Great art breaks the previous rules. It is an inversion of what came before. In a way, the secret to unconventional thinking is just inverting the status quo.

This strategy works equally well for other creative pursuits like writing. Many great headlines and titles use the power of inversion to up-end common assumptions. As a personal example, two of my more popular articles, “Forget About Setting Goals” and “Motivation is Overvalued”, take common notions and turn them on their head.

Success is Overvalued. Avoiding Failure Matters More.
This type of inverse logic can be extended to many areas of life. For example, ambitious young people are often focused on how to achieve success. But billionaire investor Charlie Munger encourages them to consider the inverse of success instead.

“What do you want to avoid?” he asks. “Such an easy answer: sloth and unreliability. If you’re unreliable it doesn’t matter what your virtues are. You’re going to crater immediately. Doing what you have faithfully engaged to do should be an automatic part of your conduct. You want to avoid sloth and unreliability.”

Avoiding mistakes is an under-appreciated way to improve. In most jobs, you can enjoy some degree of success simply by being proactive and reliable—even if you are not particularly smart, fast, or talented in a given area. Sometimes it is more important to consider why people fail in life than why they succeed.

The Benefits of Thinking Forward and Backward
Inversion can be particularly useful in the workplace. Leaders can ask themselves, “What would someone do each day if they were a terrible manager?” Good leaders would likely avoid those things.
Similarly, if innovation is a core piece of your business model you can ask, “How could we make this company less innovative?” Eliminating those barriers and obstacles might help creative ideas arise more quickly. And every marketing department wants to attract new business, but it might be useful to ask, “What would alienate our core customer?” A different point of view can reveal surprising insights.

You can learn just as much from identifying what doesn't work as you can from spotting what does. What are the mistakes, errors, and flubs that you want to avoid? Inversion is not about finding good advice, but rather about finding anti-advice. It teaches you what to avoid.

Here are some more ways to utilize inversion in work and life:

Project Management
One of my favorite applications of inversion is known as a Failure Premortem. It is like a Premeditation of Evils for the modern day company.
It works like this: Imagine the most important goal or project you are working on right now. Now fast forward six months and assume the project or goal has failed.
Tell the story of how it happened. What went wrong? What mistakes did you make? How did it fail? In other words, think of your main goal and ask yourself, “What could cause this to go horribly wrong?”
This strategy is sometimes called the “kill the company” exercise in organizations because the goal is to spell out the exact ways the company could fail. Just like a Premeditation of Evils, the idea is to identify challenges and points of failure so you can develop a plan to prevent them ahead of time.

Most people want to get more done in less time. Applying inversion to productivity you could ask, “What if I wanted to decrease my focus? How do I end up distracted?” The answer to that question may help you discover interruptions you can eliminate to free up more time and energy each day.
This strategy is not only effective, but often safer than chasing success. For example, some people take drugs or mental stimulants in an effort to increase their productivity. These methods might work, but you also run the risk of possible side effects.
Meanwhile, there is very little danger in leaving your phone in another room, blocking social media websites, or unplugging your television. Both strategies deal with the same problem, but inversion allows you to attack it from a different angle and with less risk. This insight reveals a more general principle: Blindly chasing success can have severe consequences, but preventing failure usually carries very little risk.

Marie Kondo, author of the blockbuster best-seller The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, uses inversion to help people declutter their homes. Her famous line is, “We should be choosing what we want to keep, not what we want to get rid of.”
In other words, the default should be to give anything away that does not “spark joy” in your life. This shift in mindset inverts decluttering by focusing on what you want to keep rather than what you want to discard.

What behaviors might ruin a marriage? Lack of trust. Not respecting the other person. Not letting each person have time to be an individual. Spending all of your time on your kids and not investing in your relationship together. Not having open communication about money and spending habits. Inverting a good marriage can show you how to avoid a bad one.

Personal Finance
Everyone wants to make more money. But what if you inverted the problem? How could you destroy your financial health?
Spending more than you earn is a proven path to financial failure. It doesn’t matter how much money you have, the math will never work out for you over time. Similarly, accumulating debt is a hair-on-fire emergency to be resolved as quickly as possible. And gradually creeping into unchecked shopping and spending habits can lead to self-inflicted financial stress.
Before you worry too much about how to make more money make sure you have figured out how to not lose money. If you can manage to avoid these problems, you'll be far ahead of many folks and save yourself a lot of pain and anguish along the way.

Consider the Opposite
Inversion is counterintuitive. It is not obvious to spend time thinking about the opposite of what you want.
And yet inversion is a key tool of many great thinkers. Stoic practitioners visualize negative outcomes. Groundbreaking artists invert the status quo. Effective leaders avoid the mistakes that prevent success just as much as they chase the skills that accelerate it.

Inversion can be particularly useful for challenging your own beliefs. It forces you to treat your decisions like a court of law. In court, the jury has to listen to both sides of the argument before making up their mind. Inversion helps you do something similar. What if the evidence disconfirmed what you believe? What if you tried to destroy the views that you cherish? Inversion prevents you from making up your mind after your first conclusion. It is a way to counteract the gravitational pull of confirmation bias.

Inversion is an essential skill for leading a logical and rational life. It allows you to step outside your normal patterns of thought and see situations from a different angle. Whatever problem you are facing, always consider the opposite side of things.

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Sunday, January 31, 2021

Happy or Satisfied

Sharing a good article that I recently came across.

What makes an individual happy? What makes a person feel satisfied? Can someone be satisfied even if they’re not happy, or will they find happiness even when they’re not completely satisfied? Knowing the difference between happy and satisfied can be tricky.


Throughout life, we strive for happiness while also having wants that need to be satisfied. But, how are they different and is it possible to be both happy and satisfied?


What Is Happiness?

Happiness is defined as both an emotion and state. It’s a subjective term used to describe a wide-range of positive emotions, such as joy, pride, contentment, and gratitude. Sonja Lyubomirsky, author of The How of Happiness, further describes happiness as “the experience of joy, contentment, or positive well-being, combined with a sense that one’s life is good, meaningful, and worthwhile.” A person can be happy, even though they’re not satisfied.


What Is Satisfaction?

Satisfaction, on the other hand, is a state of contentment where all of your desires have been met. You typically find it in possessions and the enjoyment of things that bring you desire.

Meeting the desires of your heart, as well as the demands of your needs, doesn’t mean that you’ll necessarily be happy – despite the fact that you will never want for anything when you are satisfied.

Take for example purchasing a home. You’re initially happy with the purchase, but that level of satisfaction will diminish over time. Even though you’re happy, you may no longer be satisfied with your home.

Additionally, people can be happy when even their most basic needs haven’t been met. For example. if you see poverty as a blessing, as opposed to a curse, you are content with what you do have.

In this case then your chances of being happy are actually greater. Someone other person who views material possessions as a necessity in life won’t be quite as happy..


The Differences Between Happiness and Satisfaction

The easiest way to compare happiness and satisfaction is by quickly looking at the characteristics of each.

1. State: Happiness is a state of bliss, while satisfaction is a state of contentment.

2. Loss: Happiness is often lost after an individual fails to achieve something, but satisfaction only decreases when the individual cannot achieve something.

3. Enjoyment: Happiness is shared and enjoyed with others, while satisfaction is enjoyed within.

4. Measurability: Happiness can be measured, but satisfaction cannot.


How Can You Become Both Happy and Satisfied?

Despite the differences between happiness and satisfied, and being able to have without the other, it is possible to cultivate both by:

1. Keeping life as simple as possible.

A lot of us over-analyze everything and make things more complicated than they have to be. Sometimes it’s alright to keep things simple like saying ‘no,’ reducing the amount of clutter in our lives, or just going through a walk in the park.

2. Being thankful for everything you have now and show gratitude.

Reflect on the things that you’re thankful, such as having a roof over your head, food to eat, a job, or spouse, and jot these thoughts down in a gratitude journal. Also thank the people in your life who have made it better.

3. Living in the moment.

Don’t dwell in the past or obsess about the future. Enjoy right now.

4. Becoming self-satisfied.

Stop wanting more so that you can enjoy what life has already given you.

5. Nurturing and enjoying your relationships.

Stay connected with your nearest and dearest, invest in quality time with them, offer sincere compliments, and only hang-out with others who are happy.

6. Loving yourself for who you are.

Stop trying to be someone else or someone you aren’t. You don’t have to change anything about yourself in order to be both happy and content.

7. Beware of indecision.

Life isn’t easy and you’re going to make tough decisions. Instead of missing out on an opportunity you can’t be indecisive. At the same time, make sure that you’re objective by gathering as many facts as you can so that you can make more informed decisions.

8. Avoid anger and negative energy.

Always try to remain positive and optimistic and eliminate any anger or negativity in your life, such as that friend who always complains.

9. Having a sense of humor.

Don’t take yourself so seriously. Laugh, joke, and have fun!

10.Helping others and living with meaning. Volunteer, give back to the community, treat others with respect and kindness, play to your strengths, and get in the flow.

11. Embracing your mistakes.

We all make mistakes. Learn from them and move on.

12. Spending money on experiences.

Happiness and satisfaction over material items fade over time. Experiences, however, become a part of who we are, can be shared with others, and gives us a sense of meaning.

13. Taking care of your health.

Make exercise a regular habit, eat healthy, mediate, and get the quality sleep that you need each night.


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