If you ever had furniture from IKEA you know what it means to assemble it yourself. You have a package with all the pieces, materials to assemble (screws and etc), and most importantly visual instruction. Step by step in every page it guides you on how to connect different pieces properly so you don’t mess up and break something.
Now imaging you’ve got this furniture without instruction, would you be able to assemble?
Or imagine you’ve got screws but no screwdriver, what would you do?
It is a simple analogy that illustrates that to build or assemble something in life properly you need to have the right tools and know how to use them. You can not screw something with a hammer, you can only hammer it. So every tool (mental model)or combination of them works for a particular problem. It also shows the importance of “mental tools” that you can apply in life situations and find the most effective ways in your decision making.
The vast majority of the people operate based on their habitual thinking and never step back to assess the situation properly and find what tool has to be used to unlock the problem they are facing.
Our brain is wired in such a way that it relies on instincts and short-term thinking instead of long-term. People are craving for immediate gratification. Among all people, there are few outliers that put an effort to think deliberately, cut through the noise and find the most optimal decisions. They don’t choose what is easy, they choose what is right in a given situation.
Warren Buffet, Charlie Munger and Elon Musk are among them.
There are 3 parts of mastering mental models:
- Recognize and understand your existing mental models.
- Learn new models.
- Finding the discipline to use them — the hard part. Only practice and post result analysis can reveal what worked or not and why. Overtime practice will become a habit, a very good habit. You would know exactly when you need to take a “hammer” or a “screwdriver”.
“The first rule is that you’ve got to have multiple models-because if you just have one or two that you are using, the nature of human psychology is such that you’ll torture reality so that it fits your models. And the models have to come from multiple disciplines because all the wisdom of the world is not to be found in one little academic department” — Charlie Munger
Identifying your existing models
We all have our limitations. Some more, others less. Important to admit that how we think about reality might not be right, but if we accept that, then we can test out other possibilities and use the results to close in on the truth. With this mental model, we admit the one thing that gives us the power to change our lives: We don’t know what we don’t know.
Everyone can see a very small fraction of the world through their filter of personal perception and mentals models, make a judgment and think what they see is a real world. But in practice, it is just a perception.
Religious people see the world from the set of rules described in their religion and make a decision upon what is allowed and not in this religion. Muslims won’t eat pork, Christians will celebrate Easter, Buddhists won’t kill any animal or even insects due to believing in reincarnation. Vegetarians won’t eat meat 🍖 . Some people believe that the earth is flat. There are many beliefs that people hold true for themselves for many different reasons.
What is your specific big belief?
Whether all of them are right or wrong is hard to say sometimes without proper evidence. There are more than 7 bln people on this planet and each has its own set of beliefs and mental models.
These examples illustrate that some mental models can be harmful. Recognizing them can help avoid many mistakes.
Essentially, some models are wrong, but some are useful. — George Box
The first step is to recognize what models you have that help you live a good life and find out models that stand on your way to success whatever it means for you.
There was and still sometimes a popular mental model that in order to achieve the success you should wake up much earlier than any other people and work hard on your goals. Many people followed that path to realize later on that they become sleep deprived, unproductive, depressed and lacked energy.
We all have our biology clocks and you can’t fit everyone to the same context. Camel won’t survive in Norway and white bear won’t survive in Africa.
So finding what works for you that sparks enthusiasm, high energy, and great outcomes is a very important fundamental principle in life. Once you get your fundamentals right you can build on it with important nuances.
First, master fundamentals. Then, play infinite games.
— James Stuber
Look back on your past 1–2 years and recall the important decisions you made. How did you make them?
Did you follow your default behavior and easy path or deliberately thought through potential second and third-order consequences?
Default stay is helpful when you are in your circle of competence to make a decision. A great musician has achieved the level of effortless mastery so he doesn’t need to think what next note he has to play next. It all comes naturally to them. Before they reached that state of mind they had to think slowly about every note.
So your default state might work very well if the decision you take is in your area of competence. If it is not then you need to avoid default state and think deliberately how to apply the optimal mental model.
Life will through at you plenty of challenges. Some of them you will create yourself intentionally or unintentionally. Every problem has an opportunity to become better at solving them and become better as a human. The harder is the problem the bigger is the impact on you. Challenge is to find most optimal solution. Unfortunately, many of us create solutions without even thinking if there is a real problem to solve in the first place. Did we frame the problem in the right way before solving it? Very often, we fall in love with our favorite solution that worked before and then define the problem as the absence of that solution. We pursue a solution for the sake of solution, innovation for the sake of innovation without stepping back and asking ourselves is it a real problem worth solving it? What tools I have to solve it? What tools I really need to solve it?
Somebody said: If you found a good solution, look for a better one
Just because you have tools that are available to you it doesn’t mean they are the right one. You have to zoom out from time to time and see the bigger picture, the range of tools, and find the right one.
Our intention is to help you learn these tools gradually and practice in real life.
Here are just some of them that we will help you to learn in the Bold app.
- A map is not a territory
- Pareto Principle
- First principle
- Second-order thinking
- Parkinson law
- Hanlon’s razor
- Stockdale Paradox
- Loss aversion
- and many more …
You power comes from self-believe and skillset of applying right tools for the right situation.
Your mind is your most powerful tool.
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