What I Learned from Thinking about Thinking

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Learning from Others to Improve Yourself

Whether you’re trying to break into a new industry at work or understand a complex lesson in school, you often have to use others’ experiences to understand new concepts in life. You do not, however, get the chance to solve a problem on your own as often. Due to this imbalance, it can be hard to gain the right skills to balance how much you’re influenced by others versus how much you forge your own path. Some fundamental values to consider, however, are the patterns in thinking behind these experiences.

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Mitigating Risk versus Optimising Success

As you identify whether others are influencing you in a negative or positive way, you might be surprised to discover the sheer number of times you make decisions based on the influences of others. Of course, this makes sense as it is easier to do what everyone else is doing than to weigh the pros and cons of a decision on your own. Doing this, however, means that you’re often trying to slightly improve from the rest of the pack across endless iterations. Instead of game-changing discoveries, you’re just reacting to what your competition does and trying to get ahead by doing the same thing better. This is the approach where you mitigate risk and play it safe by mainly sticking to what everyone else is doing.

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Underestimating the Emotions behind Decisions

With these principles considered, it is important to keep in mind that humans are inherently flawed when it comes to making decisions, whether they be little ones like what colour to paint a room or bigger ones like how best to spend money on research. People talk about that gut instinct, background research, forecasting models, and so on to help them make decisions. At the core of it, however, few understand how their experiences shape how they make decisions. One of those people is celebrity psychiatrist, Phil Stutz:

  1. Force yourself to accomplish those things;
  2. And create a habit to look for fear to address.
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Key Takeaways

  • Understanding the principles of philosophy and psychology improves your ability to address pragmatic issues.
  • It is important to learn from others, but also recognise how they influence you.
  • It is easier to follow everyone else, but you have to think for yourself to create real change.
  • Embrace risk; it means you’re doing something most others aren’t.
  • Luck plays a big, yet unnoticed, role in anyone’s success.



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Madhav Malhotra

Madhav Malhotra

Cofounder at The Plastic Shift. Learning how to create a sustainable planet. Linkedin: linkedin.com/in/madhav-malhotra/