Made, Not born

The best executives are made, not born. They absorb information, study their own experiences, learn from their mistakes, and evolve. They are fearless when tackling difficult problems. They have common decency, value honesty and most importantly are generous towards others.

Photo by Alexander Redl on Unsplash

Are you a fox or a hedgehog?

Fox vs Hedgehog

Some 2,700 years ago, Archilochus wrote, “The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.” This is the foundational thinking between specialists and generalists.

To have a best 30-second mind, you need to have a broadest thinking. Thinking is surprisingly underrated activity. What is Thinking? Thinking is concentrating on one thing long time to develop an idea about it. Developing your own ideas. Our thoughts are always influenced, by someone else ideas. It’s only by concentrating, sticking to the question, being patient, letting all the parts of mind come into play, that you can arrive at an original idea.

This is where long attention span becomes important. long attention span, that is, ability to stay focused for an extended period of time. Actual thinking is really hard work. Henry Ford rightly captured, “Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably why so few people engage in it.” 

Hey Nobody’s that smart, they just spend more time thinking, reading, learning, and obtaining worldly wisdom.

First Principles Thinking

First principles thinking requires you to dig deeper and deeper until you are left with only the foundational truths of a situation. Why this is needed? This is needed because different solutions present themselves at different layers of abstraction. This is the “art of reductionism“.

So how do we do this?

Just follow the Feynman technique, and four simple steps:

1. Pick and study a topic.

2. Take out a blank sheet of paper and write at the top the subject you want to learn. Write out what you know about the subject as if you were teaching it to someone who is unfamiliar with the topic—and not your smart adult friend but rather a ten-year-old child who can understand only basic concepts and relationships.

3. When you must use simple language that a child can understand, you force yourself to understand the concept at a deeper level and to simplify relationships and connections among ideas. If you struggle, you have a clear understanding of where you have gaps in knowledge. This is valuable feedback, because you have now discovered the edge of your mental capabilities. Knowing the limits of your knowledge is the dawning of wisdom.

4. Return to the source material, and then reread and relearn it. Repeat step 2 and compile information that will help you fill in those gaps in your understanding that you identified in step 3. Review and simplify further as necessary.

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