Tag Archive | Mind-Mapping

The Connections Game: Exploratory-Mapping

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What if mind-mapping had no center?”

“Doesn’t it make it unfocused?”

“Precisely the point. The purpose is to discover your focus.”

“A kind of exploratory mapping?”

“That’s a good name for it.”

Note-taking as Art 2

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“I think of my note-taking as an art [<link; short length]. A kind of calligraphy.

I don’t seek perfection of execution, but balance. 
Balance between functional and aesthetic beauty. 
Balance in the use of space.

I also like to think of it as a system.”

“Why think of it as a system?”

“Because it allows me to optimize it more effectively. Creativity is one of the central values of my life, and Optimization is an essential component of it. For me Optimization is a value in itself – and another venue for self-expression.”

“You mean life optimization?”

“I’m a Designer. I like to optimize EVERYTHING. However, life optimization is indeed my main focus. And that is, essentially, systems optimization.”

“What’s one notable component of the note-taking system?”

“I’m using three sizes of notes, created from A4 pages.

My three types of notes

I cut the A4 page in four. This is the largest note size (L-notes).
By cutting the L-notes in two, I get the medium notes (M-notes).
By cutting the M-notes in two, I get the small notes (S-notes).”

“Why are you using three sizes of notes?”

“Each size serves a different function.

L-notes are for general note-taking purposes, idea capture, and to-dos.
M-notes are for mind-mapping.
S-notes are for implementation.

The size ensures I can tell which is which at a glance.”

“Why don’t you use the large ones for mind-mapping?”

“I sometimes do. But the smaller space forces me to be more focused. Smaller mind-maps are more usable

Everything I write starts as a mind-map. I take the idea-seeds, which I collect in a digital document, and develop them through mind-mapping. Once they gain enough definition, I start writing.

I have a growing stack of M-notes, for upcoming articles.”

On Thinking and Mastery

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is the ONE Thing you want to master in this life?”


Josh Waitzkin once said in an interview:

I love Learning more than anything.

Similarly, I would say:

I love Thinking more than anything. Learning is a part of it.”

“What does mastering Thinking mean?”

“I’m learning that as I go. My map so far looks like this:

My Thinking Mastery map

I’m using Alan Watkins’s model of peak performance, which we’ve talked about [<link; medium length] a while back. Remember his peak performance pyramid:

Emotion (Energy in motion)

Mastering Thinking requires mastering both Physiology and Feeling.

Thinking Mastery = Physical Mastery + Emotional Mastery + Mental Mastery

Physiology is the basis for Energy generation. This is essential because Thinking is very energy intensive.

Feeling is also essential because it allows you to be able to actually use your Thinking in situations of stress.

We can think of these as metaphorical Obstacles to Thinking. Two more significant obstacles are Cognitive Biases, our natural tendency to make systematic errors of judgment, and Coping Mechanisms, dysfunctional ways of dealing with past traumas.

Another important aspect of it is Balance. Thinking for me has a tendency to displace Sensory Experience and Observation as it’s very inner focused.”

“So it’s a balancing of Attention.”


As concerns Thinking itself, we can think of it in terms of Input and Output.

The Input is the formation of persistent structures in the mind. This means the acquisition, creation, and mastery of a number of what I call ‘tools of the mind‘ that allow you to manage complexity and carry out increasingly complex operations.

In terms of Output, I’m focusing on three aspects: Value Creation, Transfer [<link; short], and Antifragility.

Everything that’s colored brown on the map are skills.

This is a lifelong project, and I’ll undoubtedly be refining the map over the years.”

The Connections Game: Multi-centered Mind-Mapping

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What if mind-maps had more than one center?”

“What do you have in mind?”

“I’m thinking about connecting mind-maps

For instance you can start with two centers on one page. From each, you start expanding in all directions. Whenever a branch from one mind-map relates to one or more branches from the other mind-map, you connect them.”

Paired mind-maps. I like it. You increase the likelihood of discovering interesting connections.”

“And it doesn’t have to be just two mind-maps. You can play around with more, experiment.”

On Love and Presence

Fragment from imaginary dialogues

“Meditation is a practice, so a means to an end. What is its end?”

The skill of Presence.

The skill determines the amount of time you spend in the present moment – how present you are in your own life –, which reflects the level of control over your own mental/emotional processes.”

“So Meditation is the practice of the skill of Presence.”


I also like to think of Meditation as the unit of practice.”

“Why do you keep redrawing the map of the practice?”

“I’m constantly trying to simplify it, to get to the essence of it.”

“What’s the newest insight?”

To practice Presence is to practice Love.

The map of the Presence practice

The practice has two components:

Maintaining your attention on one thing. It can be the breath, or anything else.

The response to your present experience, whatever it is. 

We might call them Loving Attention and Loving Acceptance.”

“What about Kindness and Compassion?”

I see Kindness, Compassion and Gratitude as expressions of Love.

On Wisdom

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“The four virtues of Stoicism (in Brian Johnson’s interpretation) are:


The four virtues of Buddhism (which I also learned from Brian) are:

Loving Kindness

Interestingly, Wisdom is not among them.”

“What is Wisdom?”

“It’s one of those things that seem obvious. You think you have a firm grasp of them, but once you take a closer look, they start to slip through your fingers like sand. I call these, slippery concepts.”

“What do you mean by it?

Let’s take the virtues of Stoicism and those of Buddhism as reference points.

Where does Wisdom stand in relation to those virtues?”

“In my view, Wisdom is not a virtue, but all virtues.

Wisdom is a system of meaning.

Visually, it looks something like this:

A small part of the Wisdom system of meaning

The Art of Perception 5

A problem is a terrible thing to waste. (Peter Diamandis)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How can I solve this problem?”

“Before you set to working on a problem [Particular], work on your relationship with ‘problem’ as a concept [General]. 

What does ‘problem’ mean to you?
Does it have a positive or negative connotation?

You can work on beautifying its representation [<link; medium length].

The result can be something like this:


I call this a meaning-map.

The nodes in blue are values.
The nodes in pink are representations.”

“Can you explain it as a step-by-step process?”


Start from the central node and brainstorm on it, connecting it with your central values and coming up with meaningful representations for it – meaningful for you.

Then pass it through the 80/20 filter, selecting the 20% most powerful representations.

Work on internalizing those representations [Deliberate Practice] such that whenever you think ‘problem’, the representations automatically come to mind.”

Painting with Meaning 2: Beautifying Representations

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“An important aspect of the Art of (Playful) Living is beautifying representations.”

“So it has to do with meaning.”


Let’s take ‘art’ as an example. To understand what it means is to form a mental representation of it – a model. The representation is 
partly implicit (implicit-model) – you recognize something as ‘art’ at a glance, without really knowing why –, 
partly explicit (explicit-model) – a more or less systematic explanation of why some things can be labelled ‘art’ while others cannot.”

“The word ‘art’ has become kind of a verbal-empty [<link; short length]. The linguistic pattern ‘The Art of x’ is ubiquitous.”

“One way to go about it is theoretical-understanding, clarifying the representation you and others have of it.
What do you/they mean by ‘art’?
Why is x ‘art’?
You can fill books on the subject without really getting anywhere.

Another way to go about it is practical-understanding, by which I mean in this case the intentional aesthetic process of beautifying representations. You’re creating meaning, you’re making them more meaningful for you, thus beautifying the landscape of your inner-world. I like to think of it as creating inner works of art.”

“How do you do that?”

“This is a personal introspective integrative process. In essence, you do it by connecting it with the things that are most meaningful to you.

I like to do it in writing, mind-mapping style. Like this:

On Learning and Models

When you read to learn you have to remember that you can’t know everything.

Optimized learning is the process of figuring out what is important and what is not important and then flat out IGNORING what is not important.

(Eben Pagan)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How can I optimize learning?”

“An essential principle of learning is:

Know your Why.

Just as when you think of a color, every instance of that color around you magically starts popping into view (perceptual-priming), knowing exactly Why you’re learning primes you to identify at a glance what’s important from the material, and acts as an information filter. 

I’d go one step further:

Know your What.

Be specific. Know exactly What you’re looking for when learning. Build a high-fidelity Meta-Learning-Map

I like to use mind-maps, like this:

My Meta-Learning-Map

“Can you explain the purpose of the Models branch?”

“When you learn, it’s important to grasp the essence of the material. I’ve come to realize that models encode this essence. This is a process of deconstruction. Deconstructing language, and deconstructing meaning.

Most of my life (FORTY years), I used to think in ideas. But since I set as a goal to become a Super Thinker [<link; medium read] and started thinking in models, a little less than a year ago, it seems like my mind has evolved. 

I now think in units of meaning – that’s what the model essentially is. Every idea is an aggregate of models. It’s a bit like how Neo saw the reality behind the Matrix as green digital rain. 

One of my many projects is creating a (practical) taxonomy of models. That’s what the Models branch of the mind-map is.”


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.”