Tag Archive | Mental Models


Models-Mapping illustrated with Models-Mapping

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is models-mapping?”

“This is my own little innovation.

As you know, I love mind-mapping [<link; short length]. And I love mental models [<link; medium].

At some point, an idea struck me:

What if I combined mind-mapping with mental models?

Thus models-mapping was born.

Models-mapping is essentially mind-mapping with models.

A beautiful way to practice Models-Thinking.”

Beautiful Models: Time-Density

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is the most important resource?”

“I’m thinking time, because it is non-renewable.”

“Would you say the more you have, the better?”


“What if you have a lot of time, but you don’t have the energy to make use of it?”

“Then, I guess, all that time is for nought.”

“The time you have is a potentiality, which is actualized by how you use it.

To actualize time, you need energy.

I love Robert Greene’s idea – which I’ve turned into a mental model – that there’s only two types of time: alive time and dead time.

You actualize time by turning it into alive time.

Dead time is wasted time.

Think of a leaking bucket. The potential time you have is the holding capacity of the bucket. The actual time you have, is however much water you have at any given time.

You also actualize time by increasing time-density.

“What is time-density?”

“It’s how efficiently you make use of it.

If you learn something in half the time compared to someone else (learning-density), then you can dedicate the time difference to other pursuits. In the same amount of time, you’ve done more things. This applies to not just learning, but also experiences (experiential-density), creative output (creative-density), and growth more generally (growth-density).

Over the course of a lifetime, increased time-density can amount to years.

With a high time-density you can live more than your years.

The converse is also true:

With a low time-density you can live less than your years.

Beautiful Models: Inversion

Inversion is a powerful tool to improve your thinking because it helps you identify and remove obstacles to success. The root of inversion is “invert,” which means to upend or turn upside down. As a thinking tool it means approaching a situation from the opposite end of the natural starting point. Most of us tend to think one way about a problem: forward. Inversion allows us to flip the problem around and think backward. Sometimes it’s good to start at the beginning, but it can be more useful to start at the end. (Shane Parrish)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“Inversion is one of my favorite mental models. As it’s commonly thought of, it means ‘thinking backwards’, focusing on the opposite of what you want.

For instance, instead of asking ‘How can I succeed?’, asking, ‘How can I fail?‘”

“So focusing on the obstacles to success.”

“Yes. That however is but one application of the model. Inversion is a multi-purpose tool.”

“What’s the essence of the model?”

Metaphorically changing something into its opposite.

The change can be directional.

One example of this is wonderfully expressed by Ryan Holiday:

The Obstacle is the Way
The Art of Turning Obstacles Upside Down

Turning obstacles upside down is an instance of Inversion.

Upside down‘ here is what I call a directional metaphoric model.

Expressed as directional metaphoric models, the examples so far look like this:

Forward/Backward: Thinking backwards, rather than forwards.
Towards/Away-from: Moving towards obstacles, rather than away from them.

The latter can also be expressed using a different model:

Confront/Avoid: Confronting/Facing obstacles, rather than avoiding them.

The change can be substantive.

Changing one thing into another. The metaphoric model I like to use to describe it is Transmutation.

For instance:
Turning a negative into a positive.
Turning weakness into strength.

Another example is Nassim Taleb’s Antifragility model: thriving not in spite of obstacles, but because of them. Turning obstacles into fuel for your growth.

The change can be instrumental.

Changing between the two poles of a dichotomy. I like to call this Perspective Shifting. And the dichotomy can be artificially created for practical ends. When you see me use the pattern

model3 = model1/model2

that’s often a practical dichotomy.

Here Inversion is used as a meta-model.”

“What’s a meta-model?”

“In this context, a meta-model is a higher-order model that allows you to perform operations on other models, thus expanding their use.

For instance, joining two models to create a dichotomy – model which we could call Dichotomization – is a meta-model.

Similarly, switching back and forth between the two poles of a dichotomy – Inversion – is also a meta-model.”

On Magic and Models 3

A Magic the Gathering deck

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“Can you give another example of how you apply the Magic the Gathering model to Models Thinking?”

“Another application of the Magic model is deck-building.

In the same way in order to play Magic you select a number of cards to form a deck, you can select a number of models to form a metaphoric ‘deck’. A models-deck.

So, essentially, a models-deck is a particular combination of models for achieving a specific end.

A models-deck is a priming-tool.

For instance, I start every single day with a morning activation ritual, where I activate my mind and body.

I activate the mind with a priming ritual, by reading a selection of powerful ideas, followed by a themed writing session focused on implementation / optimization. 

I activate the body with movement.

As part of my priming ritual, there are two models-decks. One is focused on tools, the other on representations [<link; medium read].

I call this models-priming.”

“Can you show me one?”


This is the Tools deck:


The Obstacle is the Way
(Parkour, Inversion, Reversal, Creative Limitation)

Big Thinking [<link; medium read]
(Holistic, Big-picture, Macro, Big-Questions, Integration)

(80/20, ONE Thing, Essence, Editing)

(Love – Beauty, Play, Gratitude;
Self-care, Mind / Heart, Movement / Stillness, Input / Output)

Presence / Embodiment
(Flow, Focus,
Empty-Space, Slowing down, Pause-Point,
Metacognition, Hyper-Awareness, Observation, Patterns)

(Oscillation, Activation, Activation Energy, Perpetual Motion Machine, Re-Commitment) (Oscillation, Re-Commitment,
Activation, Activation Energy,
Parkour, Movement snacks, Perpetual Motion Machine)

(Deliberate Practice, Learning Zone,
Focused / Diffuse Thinking, Divergent / Convergent Thinking,
Feedback Loop, Evolution Spiral, Problem/Diagnosis/Design,






(Stacking, Life-Stacking, Transitional)

(Beautiful Opportunity, Gift,
Opportunity Cost, Contrasting)