Maybe the biggest problem really intelligent people have is that they spend more time being clever than being effective.
I used to suffer from this disease of the mind. I'd want to do something new, novel, and fascinating - instead of just getting something done.
The really effective people I know, the people who make the biggest difference in the world, who make the best things, who get the most done, who live the best lives - they all are more concerned with getting something done that fits than with making it clever.
Over-researching relatively minor things is a great example. Take a quick look, get an understanding, choose one. Change later if it becomes an issue.
Trying to reinvent the wheel constantly.
Using words people don't know - maybe makes you seem clever, but makes you much less clear and less effective.
Trying to show off instead of listening.
Trying to make a point in an obscure way for no good reason - instead of just saying it outright.
The absolute worst one? Arguing with people over stuff that doesn't matter - you win the point, but become radioactive to whoever you were arguing with. Proving someone wrong? Yeah, clever. Very ineffective, though.
Newcomer to an old post, but goddamn I had to laugh at myself when reading this...thanks for the food for thought - the difference between knowing something and doing it eh - some of my ideas I have spent years planning out, when really all I needed to do was sit down and start working
Huh, this is from six years ago — how'd you find it?
Definitely agreed about over-think. Did you ever take the Kolbe A Index? Can be useful to understand your default inclinations. Costs $50 but I think well-worth it in insight gained.
This page - from your start page. The title caught me - there have definitely been times where I thought I could outlearn the problem - getting ahead of it through understanding, where action would have been a more effective remedy. Obviously there is a hugely important place for learning, but everything on a balance, right ?
Your blog - kind of a roundabout journey - started reading JL Collin's stock series, which led me to Mr Money Mustache's blog, where he referenced a AJ Kessler post that was mocking him. I found that interesting, because tbh after reading through Kessler's stuff, it seems like him and MMM resonate on more than they disagree with, but maybe it was some of the extremity of the examples that turned him off...anyways, I digress. His blog led me to yours. I have read quite a few articles now, and I appreciate your perspective - there are lots of things I agree with, and similar conclusions to ones that I have drawn. It always fascinates/interests me how we can realize similar things from very different circumstances/lessons/paths. I picture my reading style as similar to clear-cutting forests - I like to be thorough haha....posts don't need to be new to be great! And I find it helps give a better picture when you go back and get a sense of the history and progression of someone's writing. So hope you don't mind to see my name popping up on some of your other older articles as I work my way though. Absorbing perspective is a great way to grow. And it's fun to have some back and forth on some of these topics.
Sorry for the long-winded response to a simple question - maybe gives you a bit of a better idea about me, though.
I will check out the Kolbe index - hadn't heard of it before, but I have done DiSC, Meyers Briggs & Strengthsfinder at various parts of my school and corporate life - high influencer per DiSC, and INFP at the time - that was like 15 years ago now though. Not quite the same, but after a quick bit of research seems to be in the same area. $50 is pretty low cost, if it produces even one or two usable insights about myself.
I came across your Unity #6 article on Medium when i was looking up the Kolbe index - that was a good read. The CIA observations were fascinating - I am interested to read through the other categories for people they use, do you recall if it was the Kubark Counterintelligence Interrogation document from July 1963? Or were you referencing something else? I was surprised at how their introduction to it resonated with me, that all systems of understanding and categorizing psychology are incomplete. That was always my main objection to things like DiSC (I was much younger when originally taking it, at the time I had more difficulty getting over the feeling that someone was trying to put me in a bucket, but still found some pretty practical insights there).
I have come across this in other areas, it definitely seems like a mental shorthand, to categorize - we tend to know our categories really well, and so seek to place the people we meet or things we encounter into those categories right away, to have the feeling that we then understand how they can work into our overall system of belief... but in doing so, we can often take ourselves out of touch with the actual reality of the situation - just like anything, the act of categorization is useful up to a point, but becomes detrimental once it starts leading to misplaced assumptions, and blocking us off from further learning. There have been some great Buddhist writings on the subject, as well as some of the more modern literature that's been coming out.
To tie it back to the CIA doc, and your conclusions, it really reminded me of Swinburne's leaky buckets - there's all these systems that give a good estimation but are imperfect models; there's flaws in each. But you can overlay enough of them to create a useful working model, on the assumption that each one in the network has the ability to cover off some of the blind spots of the others. It's pretty cool how that holds true for pretty much any kind of network, whether it's thought models or teams.
I was surprised at your findings about cardinal vs ordinal. I would have assumed that we have moved more towards the cardinal as a society / culture than I guess we have. But I guess I have been steeped in the thinking of 'the only person you have to beat is who you were yesterday,' or thinking along those lines, for a while now. Going back to Buddhism, and other religions/spiritualities as well, they tend to shift the end-point away from ego validation. Or there was a comic a few years back that summed it up well - two types of people in life - those that see someone doing something better than them and feeling threatened vs those who see it and want to learn the technique. It seems obvious that cardinal thinking is required for advancing the human paradigm. I wonder how much the dynamics between these two are affected by 'us vs them' thinking, and a problem with the framing of the issue; ordinal thinkers seem to tend to default to this more competitive mode of thinking, whereas cardinal thinkers have moved beyond it to identify with humanity as a whole. Also goes back to the whole understanding of mutually exclusive gains and 'fixed pie' vs 'grow the pie' thinking. I hadn't heard of it expressed as ordinal / cardinal before though, so that was cool to come across.
Just as a final reflection on that: it seems reasonable that the large emphasis on consumerism has been messaged and cultivated through our culture over the last generation leads more naturally to ordinal thinking, whereas perhaps more virtue-based cultural messaging would tend to lead more to cardinal thinking. I guess we are lucky to live in a time where philanthropy is becoming more fashionable among the rich - conspicuous consumption has become a little passe, now it seems to be less about all the things you have and more about what kind of impact you are making - so I view that as a pretty good sign. You could make the argument that it's always been that way, and that there has always been this kind of dynamic between cardinal and ordinal thinkers - I wonder if there is a tendency for ordinal thinkers to move towards involvement with institutions, due to the inherent politics and hierarchy involved, whereas cardinal thinkers may be more likely to go off the beaten path? That may be an overstretch of the model though... it just seems like we are slowly getting more cardinal thinkers into positions of power and influence, which comes across as a good thing.
Haha. Maybe I should have saved my apology for the length of my comment til the end!
On another note - seems like you are doing some pretty cool things these days - what kind of presence does Ultraworking have in Canada? I'm from Ontario. Cheers
Excellent observations — happy you found the site.
I was just in Toronto, but I'm only there every couple years or so.
We do run a variety of free and paid events online. Paid, the Pentathlon is the big one —
Free, we've got a lot of things like —
If you try either of those out, it'll put you on our email address when our next free event is announced too — probably a round of Work Cycles the last weekend of September.
I was looking at the Pentathlon, seems like a well-designed program - not hard to see how it could lead to some serious gains.
When it comes to the growth positions you guys are looking at filling, is it primarily getting more companies / groups engaged in the pentathlon, or are you looking at other types of outreach as well?
I will check out the other two links later tonight - work cycles form the basis of your increased productivity platform, then combined with ongoing feedback and things like that? Is there more to the platform that I am maybe not seeing? I've only had time to take a cursory look. Either way it looks pretty cool, and seems like it may be a good fit as corporate training for the company I work at - large Canadian construction firm. I'm also connected to a few charities and NFPs who are always tasked with doing more with less, so they may really benefit from the training too.
Is that the kind of vision you have when it comes to growth ?
> When it comes to the growth positions you guys are looking at filling, is it primarily getting more companies / groups engaged in the pentathlon, or are you looking at other types of outreach as well?
Both. We get more independent professionals than enterprise, but we've had companies buy from us and get excited for the gains they can get for their whole team.
> Either way it looks pretty cool, and seems like it may be a good fit as corporate training for the company I work at - large Canadian construction firm. I'm also connected to a few charities and NFPs who are always tasked with doing more with less, so they may really benefit from the training too.
Shoot me an email, I'm always happy to do things gratis for nonprofits (I was volunteer Exec Director of a nonprofit for five years), and potentially some business collaboration as well —firstname.lastname@example.org is my work email.
School plays a big part in this... it's entirely geared towards cleverness - get A's in Maths and English = success/approval, as opposed to get things done, shipped, put together, etc.
I could wax lyrical about business concepts, and love it. But there's someone out there saying "ok fine, now let's just do this" who is making 10x more money than me.
What's even more screwed up, is the kids who don't do well in school and drop out and take menial jobs and go through life thinking they are failures because they aren't clever. Beliefs like "I can't earn good money, I'm not clever enough and didn't go to university"... ugh! Toxic.
Omg! Where have you been all my life!!! :D I don't know how many times I use to tell myself, if there was only a "class/course" on this stuff I would definitely be taking it, as many as I could. I just had a scary thought, I wonder what I could've become and how my life would've/could've been different if the Internet HAD been available to me when I was young. I would be happier. I would've had access to alot of very valuable tools I need(ed) practically for free. Alot of wasted, unhappy years. Now the future is looking brighter, Wish me luck.
Great post that reminds me of a frequent warning I give people where I work, and that is "the perfect is the enemy of the good." I can't recall who coined that phrase, but the general idea is in line with your post. Too often I see problems persist for years because we can't get funding or time to implement the "prefect" solution.
The strategy I employ is to take the tiniest step towards improving the current situation, and try to measure the impact. Lather, rinse, repeat. After a while we've either made it "good enough" and we move on to something else, or we've gained enough converts to the cause that we can implement the perfect solution after all.
EXCELLENT points made in this post. I frequently find that my biggest road-block in being effective / getting things done is my tendency to over-think and prematurely criticise my ideas.
I'm starting to get better but it's still something I constantly need to watch out for.