Clear Thinking

Many of the people that I respect and that are doing well in the business world have mastered the art of thinking clearly. Ex.:

Daniel Vassallo
Jordan O'Connor
Derek Sivers
Mike Lynch
Shawn Wang (swyx)
Seth Godin
Rohan Gilkes
David Perell
Rob FitzPatrick
Jack Butcher
Drew DeVault

In reading their writing, I have been struck time and again by how insightful their observations are. Their mental models appear to map closely to the nature of reality, or if not absolutely closely, then certainly more closely than my mental model does.

It's obvious that this capacity for clear thinking is what has contributed in (at least) large part to their success. Action is required for success, of course, but it's critical to be working on the right things, and building up mental models for determining what those right things are is critical for succeeding.

The question is, how did they do it? Are they just naturally talented and brilliant, or is there something more? An intentional strategy that they all have employed?

It seems that intentionality itself is the strategy.

I blunder from action to action, from decision to decision, without ever stopping to question why. To wonder, question, pause and step back and just – think.

The secret to doing good research is always to be a little underemployed. You waste years by not being able to waste hours. – Amos Tversky

I need to avoid getting caught up in analysis paralysis and winding up stuck, not making any progress in life or in the clarity of my thoughts.

The counterpart, or perhaps a necessary component, of clear thinking is consistent action. Action informs thought, and thought informs action; without both, I'm dead in the water.

Business is the art of understanding reality. To understand reality, I must come into contact with it, and I can only do that by doing things, sending out little probes into the fuzzy nature of reality.

To then understand what I've come into contact with; to synthesize it into a map; that takes time and thought, intentionally processing what I've discovered.

I need to make time to think, and I need to make time to act.

I often act when I should be thinking, and think when I should be acting. Identifying what to do at each moment is a skill that can only be developed through practice over time.

Finally, clear thinking is independent thinking. I must learn to think for myself, to reason through my dilemmas and to sharpen my intellect without recourse to the shortcut of cheap, contextless advice.

It's easy to resolve my immediate pain by fantasizing about the successful application of generic advice, but that doesn't solve my problems. Only solving my problems solves my problems.

Thinking clearly is the foundation of success. I must learn to think clearly.

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