A fault in my thinking

December 7, 2016 § Leave a comment

Human brains are miraculous machines for pattern matching.

I read quite a few books and many times I find thinking the same things as the author – esp if the author is a big intellectual authority. As a younger man (23), I found a lot of things in common with Vivekananda.

Now, I feel a sense of pride when I see Silicon Valley philosopher-kings like Naval who recommend some of the same books that I do, and I read these books/authors before them, or before knowing they also recommended these books. Cases in point – Sapiens  – for which I followed the author’s lectures before the book was published, and Jiddu Krishnamurti which I discovered in a book fair in a small town 9 years ago.

This drives me into a self-congratulatory mode. But here’s the catch. These guys have also read and recommend a lot of books which I have not read yet.

And that’s where I need to focus to maximize learning.

As we grow familiar with people, places and ideas, we like them more. We feel more comfortable with them. And we stop growing. Looking for gaps helps in growing, and keeps you humble.

Similar thing also happens when I read books. I used to underline the ideas I already agreed with, and glaze over things which were new. Or something startlingly new. But to uncover new perspectives, I now try to highlight things/names/places/ideas which I know little about. This is very different. Hope to learn and grow more.

In general, the negative, the not, helps you learn more. To analyze someone’s behavior, it helps to think of things they have not done. This reveals their unconscious biases, which might be better predictors of their behavior than conscious actions. Similarly, to understand a product, sometimes it helps to ask what does the product not do. Here you can either get into the mind of the creator to better understand the product, or sometimes discover opportunities to create better ones.




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