The Complexity Trap, Dunbar's Number, & More
Today at a Glance
- Question: 100 days of action.
- Quote: Time wasted is not wasted.
- Framework: The Complexity Trap.
- Tweet: Illusion of Choice.
- Article: Dunbar's number.
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Question to assess your course:
If I repeated this action 100 times, would my life be better or worse?
You live your entire life zoomed in.
If you're not careful, your zoomed in perspective can lead you astray, as you lose sight of your course and wind up somewhere you never intended to go.
We need to zoom out to gain perspective and assess our course.
Ask yourself this question regularly: If I repeated this action 100 times, would my life be better or worse?
Be brutally honest.
How would your action compound in your life? Would it drive you towards your goals and vision? Or would it send you veering off course?
Remember: A 1 degree error in heading means a plane will miss its destination by 1 mile for every 60 miles flown. Small errors are amplified by distance and time.
Zoom out to course correct often!
Quote on embracing the waste:
“Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.” - Marthe Troly-Curtin
Time is never wasted if it serves to create joy.
The purposeless activity may be the most purposeful of all.
Framework for avoiding complexity:
The Complexity Trap
Intelligent people are naturally drawn to sexy, complex answers and solutions.
Why? They make you sound interesting.
At a party, when someone asks about latest investments, work projects, or health habits, the most complex, interesting answer always seems to draw the most attention.
- If you say you like to buy and hold index funds, people quickly move on to the person who is running a crazy covered call crypto arbitrage hedge fund strategy.
- If you say you like to move your body and eat 90% whole, unprocessed foods, people quickly move on to the person who is using red light therapy infusion to Benjamin Button themselves back into their teenage years.
The point here is that sexy "sells" when you're in a social setting, so smart people are often sucked into it.
But the pull towards complexity is a trap. It can lead you into a lot of bad decisions.
Occam's Razor says that the simplest explanation is often the best one—that simple is beautiful.
Think about it: When's the last time you chose the simple solution and came to regret that direction? In relationships, business, investing, health, and life, simple is, quite literally, beautiful.
If you find yourself drawn to a fancy, complex idea, ask yourself if you're drawn to it because of its complexity or because of its true underlying merits.
What if the correct answer is just the simplest one?
Tweet on the requirements for success:
Legendary Alabama football coach Nick Saban retired at the age of 72 last week. This is a great breakdown of a speech he gave on the Illusion of Choice.
"But the fact of the matter is, if you want to be good you don’t really have a lot of choices. It takes what it takes. You have to do what you have to do to be successful."
Article on relationship circles:
Robin Dunbar is an Oxford evolutionary psychologist most well known for the hypothesis that humans are able to maintain ~150 relationships at once (a figure known as "Dunbar's Number").
This article dives into some of the core insights from his recent book on friendship.
The most interesting idea was the data-backed concept of the concentric circles of relationships (visualized below).
Worth a read!