Tag Archive | FUNdamentals

The Fudamentals of Thinking

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What are the fundamentals of Thinking?”

“My current model looks like this:

Or, in abbreviation-form:

“Looks like a chemical formula.”

“It has practical application. Reconstructing it takes effort, it’s a form of active recall.

I’ve identified three fundamental aspects of Thinking:


I used to think of Writing as the output of Thinking. Now I realize,

Writing is Thinking.

Writing is a way of externalizing your thoughts, which allows you to clarify and build on them.

Learning is the fundamental process of Growth, which has two components:

Understanding – Refining your reality-model
Implementation – Creating persistent structures (habits, skills, principles)

“What about Teaching?”

Teaching is Understanding.

To really understand something is to be able to teach it to someone who knows nothing about it.

Teaching is basically a way to get feedback on – to reveal the gaps in – your Understanding.

As for Design, it is the practical application of Creativity. It has three fundamental components:

Puzzle-Solving (or Problem-Solving)
Optimization – Making something the best it can be
Simplification – Making something the simplest it can be”

“Isn’t Simplification an aspect of Optimization?”

“The two complement one another.

Optimization is about the What.
Simplification is about the How.

You can make something function optimally, but achieve it in a way that is overly complex.

Simplification has two aspects:

Aesthetics (Beauty, Elegance, Compression)
Complexity Management – Combating complexity creep, the natural tendency of systems to increase in complexity. You can think of it as a kind of maintenance.

The Fundamentals of Thinking

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What are the fundamentals of Thinking?”

“Thinking the right thoughts at the right moment.

Thinking new thoughts – making and breaking thought-patterns.

Non-Thinking – disengaging the mind.”


Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What does QM stand for?”

“In the realm of Movement, QM stands for Quadrupedal Movement. This is a staple of Parkour training.

Balancing QM

In the realm of Thinking, QM stands for Questions & Models. Or, I should say, Questioning & Modelling.”

“What’s the difference?”

“By Questioning I mean
the art of asking questions, and
the art of thinking in questions (Questions Thinking).

By Modelling I mean
the art of deconstructing excellence (NLP), and
the art of thinking in models (Models Thinking).

As you know, I want to master Thinking, to become a ‘Super Thinker’. Part of the process is discovering what that means.”

“What do you mean by Thinking? I’m guessing you’re not referring to thinking what you ate for lunch, or where you left your pencil.”

“By Thinking I mean Creative Thinking

To Think is to create.

The output of Thinking is creating value.”

“What about understanding?”

“Understanding is also a creative process. You’re creating new connections between discrete pieces of information, thus generating emergent value.”

“Maybe you should call it Creative Thinking then, to make it clearer.”

“You’re right.

An essential aspect of learning is deconstructing what you’re trying to learn and identifying the fundamentals.

What are the fundamentals of Creative Thinking?

This is an open macro-question, a work in progress, something that I’ll be exploring in the coming years through my readings and reflections.”

“Do you see Questions and Models as two of the fundamentals of Creative Thinking?”


We can metaphorically think of them as tools.

What does a tool fundamentally do? Maybe you can perform the operation without the tool. The tool however multiplies the output – it’s a multiplier

A tool gives you leverage

The better the tool and the better you are at using the tool, the more leverage you have.

Questions and Models are the most powerful tools of the mind I’ve discovered so far.”

Life Optimization 2

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“Should I keep or eliminate x from my life?”

“Brian Johnson identifies the most important areas of one’s life as three in number. He calls them the ‘Big Three‘:


I love the elegance and simplicity of this model. I’ve played with quite a few variations of it, but I always tend to over-complicate it and end up coming back to the original.

Returning to your question, the way I approach questions is by asking more questions.

I like to start by getting perspective. [Mental Models: Macro, Big-Picture, Perspectives]

What’s the Most Important Thing (MIT)? [Model: One Thing]

An even better question is:

What’s the MIT in the most important areas of your life?

This is where Brian’s model comes into the scene. You can answer this question (and many others) through the lens of the Big Three model:

Energy: …
Work: …

How is x in relation to those things? [Models: Alignment, Relativity, Contrasting]
Does it add, subtract, or neither add nor subtract? [Model: Addition/Subtraction]

Another question you can ask is:

What’s your highest aspiration? [Model: Direction]

Energy: …
Work: …
Love: …

How is x in relation to those things?
Does it move you toward, away from, or neither toward nor away from them? [Model: Toward/Away from]

ELIMINATE everything that subtracts from your MIT, and that moves you away from your highest aspiration.

Heroic Level: Also eliminate everything that neither adds nor subtracts from your MIT, and neither moves you toward nor away from your highest aspiration.

You can also think of x in terms of what you’re gaining from it and what you’re losing. [Models: Opportunity Cost, Cost/Benefit]

There’s an opportunity cost to anything we do. Time and energy are limited. By choosing to do something, you’re choosing not to do something else. 

How much time does x take? Projected into the future, that time can add up to quite a lot. [Models: Time, Compounding, Marginal gains, Projection]

Is x energizing or draining? How energy-intensive is it? [Model: Energy]

How does x interfere with your thinking? By thinking about less important things you’re not thinking about the truly important ones. [Models: Interference, Mental-Space, Distraction]

How does x interfere with other systems of your life? [Model: Ecology]

For instance, one of the most important life-systems is what Brian Johnson calls the Fundamentals



Energy is the most important thing in one’s life, because it allows the full expression of EVERYTHING else. The first three Fundamentals are the essential pillars of Energy, especially the first one. Hence, they should be prioritized over anything else and non-negotiable.

To live an extraordinary life, eliminate anything that interferes with the Fundamentals.