Gustavo Ballvé on May 13th, 2010
Food for thought, Home, Mental models, Quotes

A few (seemingly) random thoughts and quotes on misdirection, disorientation and how to benefit from it. If that doesn’t convince the reader to click on “read more”, there’s a Charlie Munger quotation inside worth the read.

A post on Seth Godin’s blog over Mother’s Day weekend had one sentence that “clicked” right away: “The best ideas come out of the corner of our eye, the edge of our consciousness, in a flash. They are the result of misdirection and random collisions (…)”

Nicholas Nassim Taleb had this to say about going to parties: “Go to parties. You can’t even start to know what you may find on the envelope of serendipity. If you suffer from agoraphobia, send colleagues.”

From a recent NYT article on the American University in Cairo and how it challenges students to “unlearn” in the first year: “Who am I? What does it mean to be human? These are the kinds of questions posed to undergraduate students entering this 90-year-old university during what the president, David D. Arnold, called a first year of “disorientation.” During disorientation, the students — 85 percent of them Egyptians — are taught to learn in ways quite at odds with the traditional method of teaching in this country, where instructors lecture, students memorize and tests are exercises in regurgitation.”

Charlie Munger has always talked about this: “Develop into a lifelong self-learner through voracious reading; cultivate curiosity and strive to become a little wiser every day.”

We’re sure we could come up with more “pieces” to this puzzle, and so could you, but we’ll let Mr. Munger himself sum it up perfectly for us:

“Experience tends to confirm a long-held notion that being prepared, on a few occasions in a lifetime, to act promptly in scale, in doing some simple and logical thing, will often dramatically improve the financial results of that lifetime. A few major opportunities, clearly recognizable as such, will usually come to one who continuously searches and waits, with a curious mind that loves diagnosis involving multiple variables. And then all that is required is a willingness to bet heavily when the odds are extremely favorable, using resources available as a result of prudence and patience in the past.”

There are many ways to “be prepared”, so here’s one: Build your own mental models with discipline and drive, sourcing as diversely as possible but always focusing on what’s really relevant, collaborating with a team of bright people both inside and outside your firm – better yet, people brighter than you.

It’s hard, patient, disciplined and long-term work, but it’s well worth it.

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