Welcome to the latest issue of The Qi of Self-Sovereignty. The newsletter exploring what it means to be free in an increasingly not-so-free world.
Whether you're looking to locate your authentic self or investigate sovereignty, you're in the right place! Each week, with just a few minutes of reading, I aim to expand your awareness through a quote and a piece of content that made me go hmm...
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"If you argue for your limitations you get to keep them." ― Kelly Lee Phipps
What truly blows me away is how often we fall prey to current norms, standards and technology. We humans, find it incredibly difficult to think outside the box and envision the world from a clean slate.
Before the invention of the modern keyboard layout, typing too quickly would cause typewriters to jam. The solution... the QWERTY layout. A key arrangement designed to slow down typing speed, reducing key blockage. Sounds rational, except that we no longer use typewriters, nor do we face key jamming, yet we still use this keyboard. In essence, we're sticking to what we are familiar with, carrying forth the limitations of the past.
And this self-limiting isn't just in our technology, it's in our language. Just listen to the phrases we use:
"Don't rock the boat."
"Upset the apple cart."
"Putting the cart before the horse."
...We unknowingly fall prey to conformity.
This aversion to differentiation is ingrained in us. It not only arises in our language. We see it in our educational facilities in an attempt to churn out cookie-cutter students, in our social settings, where we mimic one another to fit in and meet our attachment needs, and in our neurological response when we attempt to take the path less travelled.
One study found that going against the norm literally triggers an internal stress response, or as the authors of the study put it, "a pain of independence."
If I were to take a guess, I'd say this neurological response is a survival mechanism. As hunter-gatherers, sticking with the clan maximizes our chance of survival. Whereas, venturing out on our own exposes us to the harsh reality that we're pack animals, not built to survive alone. This stress response is our mind's way of telling us, "go back to the pack and conform!!!"
In saying that, what I left out from the quote above was:
"If you argue for your limitations you get to keep them. But if you argue for your possibilities, you get to create them!"
It is my belief that genius has to be destroyed, not created. There is genius in all of us!
A perfect example of this (I apologize, I can't locate the source 😬) is that if you give a child an object, such as a pencil, they'll most likely able to name 101 things the object can be used for:
"a poking stick"
"a pillar of support for a plant"
"a hair accessory"
And the list goes on....
But when adults are given that same object, they come up blank. Outside of all the um'ing and ah'ing, the usual response when given a pencil is, "writing... duh."
We have succumbed to the societal and neurological pressures to conform. We accept the world as it is and use things in the way they are presented to us.
However, it doesn't have to be this way. We don't have to fall victim to the status quo or give up our genius. We can venture out into the unknown in search of treasure. But we have to reprogram our thought processes.
This brings me to...
Insightful content which made me go, hmm...
"Think Like a Rocket Scientist" by Ozan Varol.
In this super informative book, Varol, a former rocket scientist, breaks down his methods for thinking outside the box, or as I see it, rediscovering our genius.
Let's look at a few of the powerful methods Ozan highlights in his book, which may help us reawaken our genius.
First Principles Thinking
How should I think? > How do I think?
First-principles thinking entails dissecting a problem into its fundamental components and core truths, posing probing questions to delve into the core of the matter, separating facts from presumptions, and finally constructing a viewpoint from the ground up.
The other day, a friend said to me, "why does everyone say think outside the box? What is inside the box that they don't want us to think about?"
In a nutshell, this is first principles thinking. It is this type of questioning that triggers ingenuity, creativity and innovation.
A high-level overview of first principles thinking:
- Identify our assumptions
- Breakdown the problems
- Identify solutions
Where first principles thinking differs from traditional thinking is that rather than starting with limitations, we reverse engineer these limitations and start with possibilities. We attempt to define and explore new ways of approaching things instead of falling back on beliefs and heuristics.
When children ask "why?" they're often unknowingly reasoning from first principles. They just can't accept something as fact. They're trying to get to the root of why something is the way it is.
The process of inversion involves approaching endeavours in the reverse direction, turning a problem upside down in order to view it from a different angle. Inversion's power comes from shifting our perspective, such as locating something's failures rather than its strengths.
Early in my personal investing journey, I would spend days analyzing a single potential investment, trying to locate that so-called "diamond in the rough." This was until I listened to the successful value investor Mohnish Prabrai.
Prabrai looked at the traditional method of evaluating investments as a waste of time. Rather than spending hours evaluating an investment against his criteria, he decided to flip this process on its head.
Now, whenever an investment opportunity comes across his desk, he immediately looks for issues or reasons to dismiss it. He can now quickly throw out what would have once taken up days, giving him more time to do what he loves.
What Prabrai calls attention to is that we too easily approach the world from the standpoint of "how is this beneficial?" Or "How can I make this work? To free up time and energy, why not reverse this questioning and ask, "why doesn't this work?" "What could cause this to fail?" "Why should I not do this?"
Boredom has one huge benefit, as Varol points out, "It allows your mind to freely associate and draw connections between drastically different objects."
Most of us are so immersed in life and technology we don't have time to be bored, to contemplate and to imagine. However, it is only through these moments of pause that creativity engages, our genius illuminates and ideas arise.
Next time you're about to plug in, why not give yourself time to think?
- Walk the dog without headphones in
- Drive with the radio off
- Sit back and observe the world around
Tying all this together and bringing it back to self-sovereignty. We have become accustomed to how we think, what we purchase, and the ways we interact in society. In doing so, we forget to stop and question, "why?" "Is what I am doing necessary?" "Is there a better way?"
We have not only lost our genius, we've lost our self-sovereignty.
Next time a commitment arises, you make a presumption or look at your to-do list. Rather than trusting and relying on others, why not take back control and give reasoning from first principles or inverting the situation a go?
Ask yourself, "What if this weren't true?" "Why am I doing it this way?" "Can I get rid of this or replace it with something more sustainable?"
Moreover, if you're child is asking the old "why?", what if you join in the questioning in search of some answers?
We can all learn more through curiosity and questioning.
Thanks for taking the time to read the latest issue of The Qi of Self-Sovereignty. I hope you found it insightful.
I always welcome feedback and thoughts. So, do not hesitate to respond to the newsletter email, comment on the article or reach out via Twitter.
The future is bright!