Tag Archive | Big Thinking


Two things in life make you feel alive: Growing and Giving. (Tony Robbins)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What are life-games?”

“I think of my life as a game. I call it The Beautiful Game [<link; short read]. It’s a modular game made up of a myriad interlocking pieces – each piece a game. 

I call the Beautiful Game and the games that make it up, life-games.”

“What are the most important life-games?”

Growing and Giving.

The Beautiful Game is made up of two big games: The Inner Game and The Outer Game. The Inner Game is the Game of Growing; The Outer Game is the Game of Giving.

The Game of Growing is the game of becoming the best you can possibly be. It is made up of two games: The Game of Wisdom and The Game of Mastery.

The Game of Giving is the game of using your Gifts in greatest service to the world, of being an exceptional value provider – the highest expression of Love. Another name for it is The Game of Contribution.

All these are daily games. In their compounded effect, they shape the well-lived life.”

On pleasure 4

The art of living is the art of cultivating the right pleasures.

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“Take any of your pleasures.

Will you remember it tomorrow? In a week? Ever?

Does it persistently change something about you for the better?

What if you had never done it? Would you have missed anything?
What if you never did it again? What would you miss?”

“Do all pleasures need to be useful?”

“They don’t, of course.

What I’m saying is, unlike the rest, useful pleasures compound [<link; short read].

Pleasures are not fate. They’re merely habits – persistent patterns of being. Habits can be cultivated and changed.

What if you only cultivated useful pleasures?
What if you changed all pleasures for useful pleasures?

Who could you become?


Fragments from imaginary dialogues

I noticed a use pattern [<link; short read]. The duration of my work cycles is 30 minutes – 30 minutes of deep work, followed by a 10-minute break. I set the timer to 30 minutes, but I always exceed the time by around 5 minutes.

Then set the timer to 25 minutes. In exceeding the time by 5 minutes you will get where you want to be. I call this process, under-adjustment.

The opposite process is over-adjustment.

As in Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quote:

We aim above the mark to hit the mark.



Set big goals – goals way beyond your current ability level. This forces you to push yourself more than you normally would, and thus grow at an accelerated pace. You ‘hit the mark’ regardless of whether you achieve them or not.

The most important meta-question

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is the most important meta-question [<link; short read]?”

“What is the most important question you can ask in any moment?”

What is the Macro / Biggest Picture / highest-order level?

Your One Word 2

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“Once you discover your One Word [<link; medium read], the next stage is going granular, gaining more and more clarity on what it means. Building a high-fidelity model / map.”

“What’s your process for doing that?”

“I’m thinking meta.

What is the highest-order level that captures the essence of who I am / strive to be?

I’m focusing on four domains – like four cardinal-points:

Meta-Identity (essential identity-blocks [<link; medium read])

Visually the map looks like this:

My One Word

Each item on the map is a (ever-evolving) philosophy in itself.”

“You’ve beautified the map itself.”

“There’s a quote I love by Josh Waitzkin:

The real art in learning takes place as you move beyond proficiency, when your work becomes an expression of your essence.

Expanded to the Art of (Playful) Living:

The real art in living takes place when your work becomes an expression of your essence – and your entire life becomes your work.

For the Life-Artist everything is a means of self-expression.”

“Do you think that anyone can be a Life-Artist?”

“Yes. I strongly believe that anyone can, if they choose to.”

On keeping impulses in check

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How can I keep this impulse in check?”

“First of all, create space [<link; medium length] for reflection by temporarily distancing yourself from the situation. Ideally, physically change location, or go for a walk.

Secondly, ask the meta-question:

Can I ask a better question?

The question you ask influences the kinds of answers you explore.


How can I keep this impulse in check?
How can I make keeping this impulse in check EFFORTLESS?

The two questions take you on very different paths.”

“How can I make it effortless?”

Remember WHY you want to keep it in check. 

If you have a compelling enough reason, you have your answer.

If don’t have a compelling reason, CREATE ONE. This means gaining clarity on who you want to be and what you want from life, and creating a deeply compelling vision for your life, one that will serve as your guide and as backdrop for your every action.”

Masterpiece Life

Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How can I live a Masterpiece Life?”

Think like an Artist.

Start by sketching the Big Picture of your life.

Ask yourself:

Where do you want to get… and WHY? (Direction)
Who do you want to be… and WHY? (Guiding Stars)

Think Big. ALWAYS.

And don’t settle for the surface WHY. Go deep. Ask WHY as many times as you need until you reach the deepest level.

Have the Big Picture in view at ALL times.

Think of it as a painting. You’re constantly adding and removing details.

The process is as much additive as it is subtractive.

Constantly ask yourself:

Does this detail beautifully fit into my artwork?

Paint away EVERYTHING that does not… until there is nothing left to take away.”

Identity Design

The strongest force in the human personality is the need to remain consistent with how we define ourselves. (Tony Robbins)

Your sense of identity is the strongest psychological force in your entire life. (Tony Robbins)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

Who are you?

I am Multitude.

I’ve grown immensely in the last few years. I didn’t know it was possible for someone to change so much in such a short time-span. This is what led me to create the model of life-density [<link; medium read].

There are many metrics you can use to measure progress. In my case, the most dramatic perhaps is my Identity Map, as I like to call it.

What does it look like?

What you see is just a part of it, a selection.

My Identity-Map

As I grow, I’ll certainly be adding more. Everything on the map I express as ‘I am…‘.

I’m using Brian Johnson‘s beautiful Big Three model, which identifies the essential areas of one’s life as being three in number.

The Big Three:
– Energy
– Work
– Love

What’s the reasoning behind it?

What’s important to understand is that, a few years ago, I started essentially from scratch. A blank page and a question at the top – one of the most important questions of my life:

Who do you want to be?

And, in time, I started adding to it. It took a few years of inner and outer exploration and countless iterations to reach its current form.

What was a key point in this process?

A realization which I had early on, which came as a sudden spark of insight:

Identity is a resource.

In a profound sense, at that point I became the Designer of my life. And much of the dramatic growth that followed was an outgrowth of this idea seed.

I’ve since realized that Identity is key to unlocking your full potential.

You become who you conceive as capable of becoming. That’s why it’s essential to Think Big [<link; medium read].

Another way to think of it is as an expression of a principle from Stephen Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People:

Begin with the end in mind.

I call the items that make up the identity-map, identity-blocks. Every identity-block unlocks possibilities. It’s like a design blueprint for your life.

Some identity-blocks are not yet fully realized (eg Leader). Metaphorically, we could say they’re still at seedling stage.

Some identity-blocks are representational-models [link; medium read]. They’re shaping my Inner Reality, a process which I call ‘Reality Painting‘.

Some identity-blocks are tools, they have a powerful priming effect in the moment.

What were the identity-blocks that had the most dramatic impact on the process of identity creation?

In chronological order:

I am Creativity / a Creator.
I am a Life-Artist.
I am a Big Thinker.
I am a Polymath.
I am Multitude.

On Goals and Models

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“It’s important to set SMART goals.”

“Remind me what SMART stands for.”

“Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-Bound.”

“We can nuance this discussion – and any discussion – by using mental models.

You can metaphorically think of them as lenses through which we examine the issue.

Several models are particularly useful in this endeavor: 
Levels of Magnification [<link; short read]

By using them, we get several more useful goals-related models.

Through the focus lens we get:
process goals – goals where you’re focused on the process (eg write for an hour)
outcome goals – goals where you’re focused on the outcome (eg write an article)

Through the length lens we get: 
– short-term goals
long-term goals
– lifelong goals

“What if I’m also interested in medium-term goals?”

“We can switch to a more granular lens:
– short/medium/long
– short/medium/long/very long

Through the size lens we get:
big goals
small goals

Through the level of magnification lens we get:
– macro goals
– micro goals

“Aren’t these last two a bit redundant?”

“Using different metaphoric models can open up radical new insights.

For instance big goals prompts the use of Big Thinking [<link; medium read], an extraordinarily powerful model.

Through the finitude lens we get:
– finite goals
– infinite goals

Through the meaning lens we get:
intrinsic goals – goals that are meaningful in themselves
extrinsic goals – goals that are instrumental to achieving other goals

The more lenses you use, the more nuanced the potential analysis.

SMART goals are outcome goals. Outcome goals are important, but only on the background of bigger goals.

You can metaphorically think of it as levels of magnification. As you keep zooming out, you see bigger and bigger goals.

The biggest most powerful goals are those you cannot reach.

“Like Mastery?”


On Growth and Possibility

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What was your most important accomplishment this year?”

“Profoundly cementing my Writer identity-block, by creating my own blog and committing to write every single day FOREVER.”

“What if you likewise cemented at least one identity-block EVERY YEAR?

Who could you become by the end of your life?”

“A Super-Polymath?”

“Let’s find out!”