Anyoung! Welcome to this week's digest. This is a very special "That reading shit is hard" edition (so much <3 for The Boondocks and Thugnificent... though I don't serve Incredible Hulks [yet]), because fuck there was a lot of reading this week, yielding all sorts of wisdom nuggets (Note: I am considering a name change for this digest to 'Dank Wisdom Nugs'. Thoughts? ;D). This week's topics include the pursuit of meaningful wisdom, misreading minds, roads to wealth, Aristotelian guidance, and conquering happiness. Enjoy!
If you like this digest, please consider sharing with friends, spit-roasting wild pterodactyl, and / or rapping Red Red Wine. xoxoxo <3
"It is remarkable how much long-term advantage people like us have gotten by trying to be consistently not stupid, instead of trying to be very intelligent." ~ Charlie Munger
MORNING MANTRA OF THE WEEK - I AM THE CEO OF MY LIFE. ACCEPT THAT RESPONSIBILITY.
Every day, as part of my morning ritual, I read my "morning wake-up poster". It is a collection of mantras that I find incredibly motivating. Continuing the momentum from these past few weeks, I will select a mantra and go into detail on why it is important to me.
This week's highlighted morning mantra is "I am the CEO of my life. Accept that responsibility." The genesis for this mantra is Ben Horowitz's The Hard Thing About Hard Things. In the context of decision making, Ben makes a point about the CEO's unique perspective at the epicenter of myriad intelligent, credible stakeholders with wildly different perspectives, biases, and needs. Only the CEO can make the decision, and a bunch of great people will probably be pissed at them regardless of what they decide. When I read this mantra, it reminds me that I am the only one with the unique perspective at the center of my existence to make the hardest decisions. Many smart people I love, like family and friends and mentors, can offer their perspective and support; but ultimately I have to make the tough calls, and many of those amazing people will probably disagree with my decision. And that's OK... I am the one who bears the full burden of all of the benefits and costs.
BEST OF WHAT I CONSUMED THIS WEEK
BOOK - Seeking Wisdom by Peter Bevelin - Peter's book is an efficient synthesis of wisdom from a variety of interesting subjects like biology, statistics, behavioral economics, and business. It is approximately 1/3 quotes from Warren Buffett and Charles (Charlie) Munger, so if you're down with Berkshire you'll be *really* excited to read this. My highlights below are from the first quarter of the book alone (no Kindle edition yet, so these were actually physically highlighted in my hardcover copy). This dense bastard was a lollapalooza of wisdom nuggets. Plus there are simple checklists sprinkled throughout, summarizing the learnings, and giving us efficient tools to use for our most critical decisions.
Our culture influences our biology by creating the environment in which natural selection is tested.
Install systems and rules that encourage the behavior you want. [Note: For ourselves and for others.]
Charles Munger: "All commissioned salesmen [e.g., consultants, bankers, lawyers] have a tendency to serve the transaction instead of the truth... Mark Twain used to say, 'A mine is a hole in the ground with a liar on the top.'"
Warren Buffett: "I have no use whatsoever for projections or forecasts. They create an illusion of apparent precision. The more meticulous they are, the more concerned you should be. We never look at projections, but we care very much about, and look very deeply at, track records."
Charles Munger: "...a guy who's bringing reality into a pleasant party, and making people face their own limitations and errors, will have poor prospects."
The more we know or think we know about a subject, the less willing we are to use other ideas. Instead, we tend to solve a problem in a way that agrees with our area of expertise... We need a full toolkit... [P]roblems don't follow territorial boundaries...
Charles Munger: "It is remarkable how much long-term advantage people like us have gotten by trying to be consistently not stupid, instead of trying to be very intelligent."
We deny and distort reality to feel more comfortable, especially when reality threatens our self-interest.
We want what we can't have... When we can't get something, we lower our opinion of it. When we can get something that others don't want, we don't want it either.
The more emotional a decision is or the more choices we have, the more we prefer the status quo.
Unconscious processes seem largely responsible for much of what we do habitually in daily life, and conscious processes seem largely responsible for making sense of what we do so that we can explain it to ourselves and others... [W]e can only guess at what’s going on inside our heads to construct those conscious experiences.
It seems that your vision is a realistic reflection of the way the world is out there, when it is actually a constructed product that exists in here.
When you don’t know the actual facts about yourself, your consciousness pieces together a compelling story, much in the same way it does when you’re trying to read the minds of other people to make sense of why they act as they do. Blind to the constructive processes that actually guide our thoughts, feelings, emotions, and choices, we’re left with the illusion that we know more about own minds than we actually do.
If the illusions you hold about your own brain lead you to believe that you see the world as it actually is and you find that others see the world differently, then they must be the ones who are biased, distorted, uninformed, ignorant, unreasonable, or evil.
...failing to engage your ability to reason about the mind of another person not only leads to indifference about others, it can also lead to the sense that others are relatively mindless.
You will become way less concerned with what other people think of you when you realize how seldom they do... Others may not give us much thought, but when they do, they generally cut us more slack than we’d imagine, because they’re not ruminating on our mistakes as much as we are ourselves.
The less we know about the mind of another, the more we use our own to fill in the blanks.
People using ambiguous mediums [e.g., e-mail. text] think they are communicating clearly because they know what they mean to say, receivers are unable to get this meaning accurately but are certain that they have interpreted the message accurately, and both are amazed that the other side can be so stupid.
What’s more problematic is that if your belief about the other side’s perspective is mistaken, then carefully considering that person’s perspective will only magnify the mistake’s consequences. This is particularly likely in conflict, where members of opposing sides tend to have inaccurate views about each other.
When you’re trying to understand another person, getting perspective fails if your direct questions turn speculative... Attempts to get perspective should focus on “what” more than “why.”
The egocentric biases... make you believe you are communicating your thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, and instructions more clearly than you actually are. To really enable someone to understand what’s on your mind, you not only need to be clear, you need to be painfully clear. If you’re getting someone’s perspective, you not only need to listen, you need to verify that your understanding is correct.
TWEET STORM - How to Get Rich (without getting lucky) by Naval Ravikant - Naval serves up a variety of pithy soundbites. Which ones resonate with you will probably depend on what challenges you are facing right now. "Learn to sell. Learn to build." resonated deeply with me. I am finally waking up to how (relatively) commoditized execution is for most segments of knowledge workers, and how many ultimately have to transition into either selling or building (or both) to 'move up' in their hierarchies.
You will get rich by giving society what it wants but does not yet know how to get. At scale.
Play iterated games. All the returns in life, whether in wealth, relationships, or knowledge, come from compound interest.
Learn to sell. Learn to build. If you can do both, you will be unstoppable.
Arm yourself with specific knowledge, accountability, and leverage.
Embrace accountability, and take business risks under your own name. Society will reward you with responsibility, equity, and leverage.
Capital and labor are permissioned leverage. Everyone is chasing capital, but someone has to give it to you. Everyone is trying to lead, but someone has to follow you.
Set and enforce an aspirational personal hourly rate. If fixing a problem will save less than your hourly rate, ignore it. If outsourcing a task will cost less than your hourly rate, outsource it.
Become the best in the world at what you do. Keep redefining what you do until this is true.
When you're finally wealthy, you'll realize that it wasn't what you were seeking in the first place.
The fundamental tenet of peripatetic philosophy is this: the goal of life is to maximise happiness by living virtuously, fulfilling your own potential as a human, and engaging with others – family, friends and fellow citizens – in mutually beneficial activities.
For Aristotle insisted that happiness is constituted by something greater from and different to an accumulation of agreeable experiences. To be happy, we need to sustain constructive activities that we believe are goal-directed. This requires conscious analysis of our goals and conduct, and practising ‘virtue ethics’, by ‘living well’.
Nobody would call a man ideally happy if he has not got a particle of courage nor of temperance nor of decency nor of good sense, but is afraid of the flies that flutter by him, cannot refrain from any of the most outrageous actions in order to gratify a desire to eat or to drink, and ruins his dearest friends for the sake of a penny …
Most appealing of all, Aristotle insists that individuals who want to treat others fairly need to love themselves. There is no room for self-hatred, self-flagellation or self-deprivation in his humane system.
Aristotle’s ethical writings, however, contain few explicit instructions about how to act. Aristotelians need to take full responsibility in deciding what is the right way to behave and in repeatedly exerting their own judgment.
MOST FAVORITE FROM THE PAST
BOOK - The Conquest of Happiness by Bertrand Russell (My full Kindle notes)- Another minefield of simple wisdom nuggets, this time from 1930. This is one of those old books that feels like it was written yesterday, specifically for your biggest challenges (aside from the 1930's racism and misogyny sprinkled throughout).
Success can only be one ingredient in happiness, and is too dearly purchased if all the other ingredients have been sacrificed to obtain it.
…By cutting short their sleep for the sake of their amusements, they debilitate their physique... Voluntarily or involuntarily, of choice or of necessity, most moderns lead a nerve-wracking life, and are continually too tired to be capable of enjoyment...
Do not be afraid of irreverence towards the memory of those who controlled your childhood. They seemed to you then strong and wise because you were weak and foolish; now that you are neither, it is your business to examine their apparent strength and wisdom, to consider whether they deserve that reverence that from force of habit your still bestow upon them.
The happiness that requires intoxication of no matter what sort is a spurious and unsatisfying kind. The happiness that is genuinely satisfying is accompanied by the fullest exercise of our faculties, and the fullest realization of the world in which we live.
No satisfaction based upon self-deception is solid, and, however unpleasant the truth may be, it is better to face it once and for all, to get used to it, and to proceed to build your life in accordance with it.
The best type of affection is reciprocally life-giving; each receives affection with joy and gives it without effort, and each finds the world more interesting in consequence of the existence of this reciprocal happiness.
Most people, when they are left free to fill their own time according to their own choice are at a loss to think of anything sufficiently pleasant to be worth doing. And whatever they decide on, they are troubled by the feeling that something else would have been pleasanter. To be able to fill leisure intelligently is the last product of civilization, and at present very few people have reached this level.
Consistent purpose is not enough to make life happy, but it is an almost indispensable condition of a happy life. And consistent purpose embodies itself mainly in work... Without self-respect genuine happiness is scarcely possible. And the man who is ashamed of his work can hardly achieve self-respect.
Every civilized man or woman has, I supposed, some picture of himself or herself, and is annoyed when anything happens that seems to spoil this picture. The best cure is to have not only one picture, but a whole gallery, and to select the one appropriate to the incident in question. If some of the portraits are a trifle laughable, so much the better; it is not wise to see oneself all day long as a hero of high tragedy.
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