What do the 2008 financial crisis and hipsters have in common?
They are overly concerned with abstractions rather than the underlying qualities.
Hipsters aim to appear interesting and unique. They pay premium prices for obsoleted technology. They choose experiences for their story value. They dress for their shock value. In their desire to become unique they have become the same. They strived to become individuals but instead became labelled.
The 2008 financial crisis was caused by derivatives of derivatives. Essentially banks were making loans to home buyers. This is not an inherently high-risk activity. However, they started selling these loans to investment banks. These investment banks packaged groups of these loans into new fangled derivatives. They then onsold these derivatives to their customers. The customers believed they were buying high quality investments. They did not realise they were buying the mortgages of low income, high-risk workers who were counting on ever increasing property prices.
In both these cases, we took what was an underlying quality (individuality, home loans), created abstractions to represent them (style, story, CFDs) and then got so caught up in these abstractions that we forgot about what we were actually dealing with.
This is a natural tendency – we create models as we seek to understand nature. We then test our models, and let them fail. When our models fail we create new ones and start again. This is what science has been doing for hundreds of years.
However, it is always beneficial to see our bad ideas fail as soon as possible. We can then move on to better and more refined models. We should aways keep in mind the underlying quality we are striving for.
- Happiness research is interesting, but don’t get caught up in the data and forget your feelings.
- A strong body is good for health and wellbeing, but remember there is a difference between “looking healthy” and “being healthy”
- The pick-up community has refined dating to a fine art. They are finding the techniques counterproductive in establishing a long-term relationships.
- Venture capitalists like to invest in startups that are going to become successful. Now startups believe receiving venture capital is a measure of success.
- Exams were supposed to be a measure of academic aptitude. Now the education system is focussed around passing tests.
We must realise that in mapping to quality to quantity we are already applying an abstraction to the world.
This process is lossy. A quantity is never a complete representation of a quality.
A word is not a feeling.
A wave is not a song.
A name is not a person.
A quality can be mapped to many different quantities.
A song can be mapped to it’s name
A song can be mapped to it’s genre
A song can be mapped to a stream of 1′s and 0′s
When we map a quality to a quantity we are telling a story.
I am sad.
I am Jonathan.
I am short.
A quality can be described by an infinite number of stories. When you map a quality to a quantity you are choosing the story you want to tell.
When one is dealing with quantities, one must realize that they are just one of an infinite number of quantities that could have been derived from the quality.
It is said we are all equal. I would instead say we are incomparable. To be able to use terms such as equal, greater or lesser one needs to quantify. To quantify one needs to choose a story. True lies only in quality.
Not every idea can be communicated through a book or a lecture.
The Oracle: Sorry, kid. You got the gift, but it looks like you’re waiting for something.
The Oracle: Your next life maybe, who knows? That’s the way these things go.
Sometimes it can only be communicated through experience or misdirection.
Leverage – ideas that scale.
- Leverage your career/impact/finances through a startup.
- Leverage technology through software which can spread at exponential rates.
- Leverage your learning through focussing on high impact activities (Pareto).
- Leverage your effectiveness by building meta-skills (learn to learn, learn to speed read, learn to validate ideas efficiently).
- Leverage your voice. Internet marketing = leveraged reach.
- Leverage your software development. DRY on Rails, avoid premature optimisation, stand on the shoulders of Open Source giants.
- Leverage your wisdom. Listen to others, learn from other’s experiences. Surround yourself by a diverse group of people.
- Leverage your value. Money is a low form of value. Relationships are a high form of value.
- Leverage your time. Eliminate, automate and outsource.
- Leverage your life. Personal development and reflection to make sure you are working toward the right goals.
- Rappers start rapping about becoming a rapper.
- Motivational speakers who motivate through their story of becoming a successful motivational speaker.
- Bloggers who blog about blogging.
- Internet marketers who market their internet marketing course.
You can never start off meta. You can only become it.
If I can read Jobs biography and understand a genius, surely it should not be hard for people to understand me?
I often feel that no matter what I say, I could never fully communicate who I am.
BUT, I do think that through my actions I could tell a pretty accurate story of myself.
To be honest, part of me doesn’t even believe the stories I tell myself while I still don’t have achievements to back them up.
They say “first you make your habits, then they make you.”
I prefer “first you write your story, then you become a character in your story.”
Your achievements become your abilities.
Your failures become your limits.
What you did well at becomes what you can do well.
What you didn’t try becomes what you can’t do.
What you didn’t learn becomes what you don’t know.
Radical Honesty is impossible.
I cannot completely convey my thoughts to another human.
- Some ideas can only be communicated through experiences
- Some ideas can only be communicated through absence of communication
- Some ideas can only be communicated indirectly
- Some ideas can only be communicated through others
- Some ideas can only be communicated through behaviour
Attempting to convey my thoughts directly can actually end up misrepresenting my views.
Welcome the meta-marketer:
Convince people you are creating value by convincing them that you have convinced people that you have created value.
Promote your products through promoting the authenticity of your marketing.
Market your marketing to market your products.
I would not give a fig for the simplicity this side of complexity, but I would give my life for the simplicity on the other side of complexity.
A wise man rejects belief. An effective man projects single-minded belief.
Everybody’s thinking about the Quantified Self. But how about the Qualified Self?
- Remember – see effectiveness stories as mnemonics
- Think – see narrative psychology, cognitive behavioural therapy
- Communicate – see any advertising textbook
Weak body, weak mind.
Ask for forgiveness, not permission.
Because people don’t like taking responsibility for [your] decisions.
If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.
Motivation must be manufactured, without any.
Get Out of The Building and Validate Your Assumptions
Sounds a bit like Lean Startup for Personal Development?
Purpose is not found by searching, but doing.
Finding a purpose requires a degree of self awareness.
Self awareness cannot come through pure reflection. Experience is essential to knowing one’s self.
- How can you know your strengths if you have never exercised them?
- How can you know your weaknesses if you have never failed?
- How can you know your passion if you never dedicated yourself to anything?
What you don’t say can be as valuable as what you do say.
Biographies and other types of stories can teach us much more than any encyclopaedia.
- Our mind processes stories, not simply facts
- Stories are qualitative and contain a lot more information than quantitative filtered knowledge
- Stories are the most efficient method of learning
- Stories are how ideas are spread
Reason is great, but if one restricts themselves to knowledge which society understands well enough to explain logically, they are putting themselves at a sever disadvantage.
It can be hard to find a mentor when you have nothing of value to offer, and are not yet worth a mentor devoting time to you.
In the meantime, books and the internet are a great way of accessing the insights of great minds.
Steve Jobs’ “Reality Distortion Field” == Storytelling prevailing over Rational Arguments