Tag Archive | Principles

On Knowledge 2

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is the highest end of knowledge acquisition?”

Expressed as a principle, I call it Transfer.

The transfer of knowledge across domains and disciplines with the purpose of solving problems and creating value.

On Wisdom 2

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What’s the structure of the Wisdom system of meaning?”

“There are many ways to think of it. My current view is modeled after the main branches of Philosophy.”

“What are the main branches of Philosophy?”

“They are:

Metaphysics: studies the nature of reality
Epistemology: studies the nature and scope of knowledge
Value Theory
Ethics: studies and evaluates human conduct
Aesthetics: studies the nature of beauty

Based on these, the Wisdom system has a metaphysical, epistemological and ethical component. For me, it also has an aesthetic component.

Metaphysical component: has to do with our fundamental assumptions, our model of reality
Epistemological component: has to do with Knowledge, of the world and ourselves, and of the limits of Knowledge
Ethical component: has to do with Values and Virtues, and how to live the good life
Aesthetical component: has to do with Beauty, how to create and appreciate it

I like to think of Wisdom as a Life-Game – and an aspect of the Beautiful Game [<link; medium length]. Another component of the system are the principles that capture the essence of the Game.”

“What are those principles?”

“I’ve identified three so far:

Inversion (or Transmutation, to use a different metaphoric-model): the art/game [<link; short] of turning obstacles upside down, negatives into positives, weaknesses into strengths

Transfer (Thematic Interconnectedness, to use Josh Waitzkin’s terminology): the art/game of using knowledge from one area of life into another

Quality (can be viewed in aesthetic terms, as Beauty): the art/game of making the most of everything that comes your way, always doing your best, of always focusing on quality over quantity

Visually, the Wisdom system looks something like this:

The Wisdom system of meaning

On Learning and Implementation

Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement. Get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. Everything is phenomenal; everything is incredible; never treat life casually. To be spiritual is to be amazed. (Abraham Joshua Heschel)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“There’s a quote I love by Eben Pagan:

Learning is behavior change.

I take this to be a fundamental principle of Learning.”

“What does this mean in practical terms?”

“Let’s take Abraham Heschel’s beautiful quote as an example.

You may read it, feel greatly inspired by it in the moment, and then totally forget about it. This is the fate of most quotes we read.

To learn it is to be transformed by it.

For that to happen, it takes active engagement. This means stripping it to its essence by extracting the principle(s), and formulating a plan of action by asking yourself:

How can I implement this?
How can I make this actionable?
How will this change my behavior?

“How would you implement this?”

“The principle here is that of radical-amazement, looking at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted.

As a guideline, we might express it as:

Take NOTHING for granted.

To move towards implementation, we need to make it actionable and specific.

One way to make it actionable is by turning it into a question:

What am I taking for granted?

Unlike the guideline, which is passive, the question primes your mind to actively scan the environment around you.

To make it more specific, you might connect it with a specific activity:

Whenever I Center myself, I will ask myself ‘What am I taking for granted?’

“That looks like an algorithm [<link; medium length].”

“It is. An algorithm of the form:

– WHENEVER x, ask question q

Once an algorithm is formulated, the next step is turning it into a habit.

One thing to note here is that the practice is more nuanced. It’s not just noticing what you’re taking for granted, but also how. Slowing down to soak in how amazing everything is by engaging your Curiosity and connecting with the Child Within.”

Beautiful Models: (Practical) Oscillation

To turn it on, learn to turn it off. (Josh Waitzkin, The Art of learning)

One of my most beautiful memories of Marcelo Garcia is at the World Championships, right before going into the semi-finals.

Everyone’s screaming, yelling. He’s sleeping. Sleeping in the bleachers. You’d wake him up. He’d sort of stumble into the ring. You’ve never seen a guy more relaxed before going into a World Championship fight. He can turn it off so deeply, and man, when he goes in the ring, you can’t turn it on with any more intensity than he can. His ability to turn it off is directly aligned with how intensely he can turn it on.

(Josh Waitzkin in conversation with Tim Ferris)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“This is such an important life principle. I like to call it the Oscillation principle. Undulating – to use Josh’s terminology – between periods of stress and recovery, engagement and disengagement, on and off. 

A key aspect of the principle is that the quality of engagement depends on the quality of disengagement. To be fully on, one must be fully off. Deep focus requires proportionally deep rest.”

“Any actionable insights?”

“Let us think what deep rest means. It means deep relaxation. Rest depends on one’s capacity to relax. One way to think of it is in terms of tension. While on, you’re accumulating tension. While off, through relaxation, you’re releasing tension.

The practice lies in finding the method of releasing tension that works best for you, and gradually condensing it so that it takes less and less time.”

Work Optimization

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What’s the optimal way to prioritize my daily work?”

“Create a system of principles for daily work, and continuously optimize it.

Here’s a few ideas:

Be creative before you’re reactive. (Brian Johnson)


Prioritize strategically. Prioritize the Macro, then the Micro. (Top-Down)

The day starts the day before. Prioritize for tomorrow today.

Select a realistic number of items for the day. Underestimate, to compensate for our tendency to overestimate [how much work we can get done].

Leave a time-buffer for contingencies.

Arrange the items in order of urgency and importance.

Arrange the items in order of excitementLeave the most exciting last, for when your energy level is lower, and to create anticipation. (Reward System)”

Open/Closed Process

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How can I optimize daily writing?”

“Start tomorrow’s piece today. 
Strategically leave it unfinished.

This is an example of what I call an open process. By leaving the process open, your mind will continue to work on it in the background.

Some processes you want to leave open, others you want to close.

Recurring thought patterns, for instance, are often a sign of an open process in need of closure.

Similarly, if you don’t set an endpoint for your workday, your mind may remain stuck in work mode. Another open process in need of closure.

We can expand this into a general principle:

Learn to artfully open and close processes.