Tag Archive | Questions

Beautiful Models: One Thing

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is the One Thing model?”

“It’s essentially a filtering model.

Let’s say you have a number of items which you want to evaluate for usefulness. According to the Pareto Principle (80/20), 20% of those items are responsible for 80% of the output. By applying the principle multiple times – identifying the 20% of the 20% of the 20% etc. – you’re eventually left with one thing.

When it comes to your life, you can use the One Thing as a framework for gaining clarity on various aspects of your life, big and small.

You have a big One Thing – your Purpose, your Ikigai, your guiding star.
You have lots of smaller One Things, for every aspect of your life.

The framework is like a questionnaire you’re creating for yourself, each question corresponding to a small One Thing.

I like to do it using templates [<link; medium read].

MIx (Most Important x)

MIT (Most Important Thing)
MIQ (Most Important Question)

MIV (Most Important Value)
MIS (Most Important Skill)
MIP (Most Important Practice)
MIR (Most Important Relationship)

Most important life-system
Most important life-game
Most important possession

#1 x (Number One x)

#1 Identity-Block
#1 Soul Quest
#1 Self-Care Practice
#1 Hero

#1 Creative Ritual
#1 Energy Ritual
#1 Flow Trigger

Biggest x

Biggest Strength
Biggest Weakness
Biggest Obstacle

Favorite x

Favorite type of Flow
Favorite Book

Favorite Place

I have a special document with the questionnaire. Whenever I come up with a new question, I add it to the document.”



Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“Which career path should I take?”

“Start with BrainStorming (BStorming).

What are your perceived options?

You can do it with mind-mapping. Write ‘Career’ in the middle of the page, and branch out in all directions.

Continue with QuestionStorming [link; medium length] (QStorming).

You can do it using two pages – one for mind-mapping, and one for questions.”

“Why not just one for questions?”

“The essence of any question can be captured in a few words – it’s essentially a model. You can reverse-engineer the process by starting with the models, and using it to generate questions.

Something like this:

As you come up with a relevant model, add it to the mind-map.

Using the map, start generating questions.

It might look something like this:

Which option is the most meaningful?
Which is the most aligned with your purpose?
Which is the most aligned with your highest aspirations?

Which does your gut guide you toward?
Which makes you feel most expansive?

Which is the most exciting?

Which offers the most growth potential?

Which can you learn most from?
Which has the highest learning-density potential?

Which allows you to develop future-proof skills?
Which allows you to develop transferable skills?

Which would you most like to do if you weren’t afraid?
Which is the least comfortable?
Which is farthest outside your comfort zone?

Which is the most painful in the short-term?
Which is the most painful in the long-term?
Which is the most pleasurable in the short-term?
Which is the most pleasurable in the long-term?

Which offers the highest potential ROI (Return On Investment)?
Which has the highest life-stacking potential?

Which would Future-You be most grateful for?

You get the point.

And you can invert all of them – to practice Inversion [link; medium].”

Loving Play

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

The Buddhist virtue of Loving Kindness is interesting because it combines what might be thought of as two distinct values into one.

This is an instance of concept-stacking [<link; short read]. Or, to use a different model, integrating two concepts into one.

What if you integrated the two central values of your life – Love and Play – into one?

What a beautiful idea.

Loving Play

It expresses both my love of Play, and both values together as a monad, a twin value.

You can also express it in reverse:

Playful Love

Equally powerful.

Contrasting 5

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How can I keep this impulse in check?”

“You’re faced with a choice. The choice between doing (action) and not-doing (non-action). 

Ask yourself:

What Value does not-doing represent?
What Identity does not-doing represent?

Make it perfectly clear in your mind.

Then contrast doing and not-doing against one another, and ask yourself:

Which do I value more?

“Hard to do it in the moment.”

“You need to create space [<link; medium read] for it by slowing down, or pausing.

And you need to first do it backwards – reflecting at your choice after the fact. Once clarity is gained, this makes it easier to do it forwards at the next choice-point.”

On Daily Reflection and Templating

When the light has been removed and my wife has fallen silent, aware of this habit that’s now mine, I examine my entire day and go back over what I’ve done and said, hiding nothing from myself, passing nothing by. For why should I fear any consequence from my mistakes, when I’m able to say, ‘See that you don’t do it again, but now I forgive you.’ (Seneca)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“I end every single day with a reflection on the day.”

“What’s your process?”

“My process has two stages: Reflection and Design.

What went well? (Celebration)
What needs work? (Understanding; Failure-Points; Decision-Points)

What can you optimize? (Optimization)
What will you do differently next time? (Implementation)

To make the process more efficient, I’ve created a daily-reflection template [<link; medium length]. 

My daily-reflection template

The template is an attention-directing tool. It directs my attention to specific points of interest. In my case, those points are:



Then I look at them through various lenses [<link; medium]. 

One lens is Brian Johnson’s wonderful Big Three framework:


Another lens is Balance. I check how balanced the Three were against one another, and the balance between Input and Output [<link; medium] (Input/Output Ratio).

Another lens is Quality. I’m interested not only in doing them, but in doing them well, and in constantly increasing Efficiency.”

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.”

The Game of Lenses

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“I’ve been playing with Brian Johnson’s Big Three lately:


“With mind-mapping, as you usually do?”

“Yes. But this time the focus was not on the Three, but on Lenses [<link; medium length].

What lenses can I view the Big Three through?

Different lenses can offer different insights, and exploring lenses is fun in itself.

I ended up exploring lenses like:

The Sacred

For instance, one application of the lens of Balance is evaluating the Three at the end of the day against one another. 

Did you give all Three equal attention?

This was a revelation to me, because I realized my triad was imbalanced, it was considerably skewed towards Work. The Big Three viewed through the lens of Balance has become part of my daily end-of-the-day reflection.

I also created the concept of meta-lenses, which are essentially lenses for discovering lenses.






The Practical

“What I like about the game is that you can play it with anything.”

“Precisely. Viewed as a template, the game can be summed up as:

What lenses can you view x through? 

And you don’t have to stop there. You can then start playing with ways of filtering them.

What are the most powerful lenses?
What are the most energizing lenses?
What lenses are most fun?

Not to mention that coming up with interesting ways of combining lenses is a game in itself.”

On Implementation 3

Whenever you start a practice, always spend a moment connecting with yourself. (Aadil Palkhivala)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How can I make this actionable?”

“Start with understanding. 

Clarify and simplify. 
Disambiguate – Identify and resolve ambiguities.
Paraphrase – Express with your own words.

The quote is a life-algorithm [<link; medium length] of the form:

When x, do y.

When you start a practice session, Connect with yourself.

Or, using a different metaphoric-model:

When you start a practice session, Center yourself.

The next step is asking yourself:

What is the practice?
What are the components of the practice?
What specifically will you do?

The practice might look like this:

Connect with your beautiful BodyMind with every Breath. We might call this Embodied-Breathing.

When you start a practice session, Pause, Breathe and think x.

x might be a word expressing your Center, however you conceive of it:

When you start a practice session, Pause, Breathe and think Love.

Pausing, Embodied-Breathing, and evoking your Center are the specific components of the practice.”

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.”

Questions & Models

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is your most important practice as a Thinker?”

“An essential question you can ask about any practice is:

What are the fundamentals of the practice?

Which is to say:

What are the most important subs-skills?

Each of those sub-skills is itself a practice.

For me, the most important Thinking practice is Questions & [Mental] Models.


“I see them as an interconnected unit – what I call a functional-monad. This is an instance of Integration. We’ll talk more about it some other time.

I call the individual components of the practice Questioning and Modelling.

I love questions, and I love models. I have a special notebook for each. I start every single day by playing with them.”

“How do you play with them?”

“The guidelines are:
thinking something different – which essentially means creating new connections
the Practical – one of the macro-filters of my life.”

“So it’s a creative endeavor.”


Whenever I come up with a useful question, I write it down.
As for models, it’s in the form of models-mapping [link; short length] – mind-mapping with models.”