Sunday Wisdom No. 80

Honesty and truthfulness are not the same thing. Being honest means not telling lies. Being truthful means actively making known all the full truth of a matter.

Welcome to Issue 80

👋 Hi, I’m Abhishek. Welcome to Sunday Wisdom, a weekly newsletter packed with timeless insights on better thinking and decision making that you can use at work and home. I appreciate you being here. If you are getting value from this, you can buy me coffee or share this newsletter with a friend.

How to Win Arguments with Honesty

Honesty and truthfulness are not the same thing. Being honest means not telling lies. Being truthful means actively making the full matter known.

Practically speaking, you cannot be completely truthful, because there’s always some aspect or the other that you might miss unintentionally. On top of that, being absolutely truthful doesn’t make you persuasive at all. The good thing is that it’s absolutely possible to be honest and still be persuasive enough to win arguments.

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Slow Thinking

Thinking is everything modernity is designed to eradicate. Our obsession with doing more and more in less and less time has turned into an addiction.

By rushing, we only skim the surface, and fail to make meaningful connections with ideas. We don’t synthesize our thoughts. We don’t test theories. We don’t play with ideas.

Good thinking is slow thinking, but slow doesn’t really mean slow. Fast is hurried, superficial, and impatient. Slow is the opposite: calm, careful, and reflective. Fast and Slow do more than just describe a rate of change. They are shorthand for ways of being.

One consequence of this obsession with being fast is we make poor decisions after poor decisions.

Poor decisions don’t just come once and then go away. The consequences remain. Eventually you have to make more decisions to eradicate them. Poor decisions eat time.

It’s only by concentrating, being patient, letting all the parts of our mind come into play, that we arrive at an original idea—by giving our brain a chance to make associations and draw connections.

Thinking requires time and space. Understanding comes from false starts, dead ends, and frustrations. There’s no shortcut. Good thinking is slow thinking.

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How I Daydream Productively

As kids we were constantly told not to daydream, because it essentially meant doing nothing. I remember how staring out the window instead of either studying or playing weren’t encouraged by elders. Admitting we were daydreaming felt like it needed an apology.

None of us were proud of it, and as we grew older, we stopped daydreaming completely. But believe it or not, daydreaming is an essential part of a productive life. In this video, I discuss how I use daydreaming to learn new things, get work done, and solve problems.

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Noteworthy Ideas

Following are a bunch of ideas on various topics from my personal library of notes that I’ve collected over the years. I briefly talk about my note-taking process here.

Jevons Paradox

Governments and environmentalists generally believe that fuel efficiency gains will lower overall resource consumption, and thereby reduce pollution. But that doesn’t happen.

When we talk about increasing fuel efficiency, what we’re really talking about is increasing the productivity of fuel. And, by increasing productivity, you reduce its implicit price—because you get more return for the same fuel—which means the demand naturally goes up.

Therefore measures to reduce pollution by increasing the efficiency of fuel isn’t really a solution since this increases the demand of cars, thereby nullifying the effect. This is known as the Jevons Paradox.

The Myth of the Lone Artist

We tend to think of artists as lone creators, holed in a room, waiting for inspiration to strike. But as evident in his notebooks and in the process that led to his drawing of Vitruvian Man, much of Leonardo da Vinci’s thinking was collaborative.

Da Vinci knew the joys and advantages of having a team. He worked with established painters, and trained his apprentices to produce pieces of art to sell in order to make money.

They didn’t merely copy his style. Many variations of his masterpieces are produced at the same time. He and his colleagues explored various alternative approaches to a planned painting, while Leonardo worked on the master version.

Finding Early Customers

Creating is comparatively easier than finding customers.

One way to get early customers is this. You find something you either know very well, or are genuinely curious to learn more, and start sharing the knowledge for free.

You do it on social networks and forums (YouTube, Twitter, Reddit, Discord/Slack communities, etc.) If people like what you know, you’ll naturally start getting some attention, and they’ll inevitably start asking questions.

These questions are indications of what’s not out there, but is in demand (i.e. what people need.) You start to answer the best way you can, but whenever something doesn’t fit a short response, it becomes an opportunity to create some content, a product, or a course, and generate revenue.

If it has value, if there’s demand, and if you are the right person with the appropriate know-how, people would be ready to pay. You just have to listen to them.

This way, you’ll have an audience to promote it to—an audience who knows you and who has already told you what it wants.

Hard Work is a False Metric

How hard you’re working isn’t a good indicator of the value you are creating, or progress you’re making. It’s a bad proxy for success.

Just as how many Twitter followers you have is a poor measure for the vitality of your business, how hard you’ve been working isn’t a good measure of how much you’re learning and progressing.

The Best Way to Learn Faster

The best way to learn faster is to have a stake in the outcome. Risk awakens our learning muscles. If you want to learn to cook invite friends over for dinner; if you want to learn about stocks, invest in the stock market; and if you want to learn about an idea, publish an article about it.

People who write a lot also listen a lot. They also change their mind a lot. Not necessarily with new data, but sometimes by reanalysing the same data. They also work hard to disconfirm fundamental biases.

— Jeff Bezos

👋 That’s All!

If you are a creator, a decision maker, a knowledge worker, or anybody who wishes to master structured thinking, join RE:Thinking, my online school.

As always, please give me feedback. Did any of the ideas resonate with you? Do you disagree with anything? What do you want more or less of? Any other suggestions? Please let me know in the comments.

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