I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately, and thankfully Bezos clarified my thoughts in a very nerdy, but helpful way: The Regret Minimization Framework. Simply put: Imagine yourself sitting in a chair at 80 looking back on your life, how can you ensure you have as few regrets as possible? This long-term view is remarkably effective at washing away some of the short-term concerns (as he described in video, it made it easy for him to walk away from Wall St bonuses to start Amazon) which often hold us back.
I’m currently reading (and enjoying) The Extra 2%by Jonah Keri, which combines a lot of my favorite things (baseball, business, innovation, etc) into one package (although it frustrates me as a Reds fan to have a guy like Dusty Baker running our team instead of Joe Maddon, but I digress). In the book, particularly from Maddon, there’s quite a bit of discussion about focusing on what you can control, not on outcomes. From a baseball perspective this means as a pitcher you focus on throwing the ball to the glove, not throwing the ball to prevent home runs. Or it can mean as a hitter, working on your swing instead of trying to hit home runs. These are simplistic examples, but I’m sure you get the idea.
I realize in my own life there’s quite a bit of head space taken up by anxieties, fears, and even excitement around outcomes that I have very little control over. There’s no easier way to get yourself worked up than to become focused on and attached to outcomes that you simply do not have control over. I think as difficult as not becoming attached to outcomes is figuring out what exactly you should be focused on, and what is really inside of your control. I’ve been defining things in my control as things I can do everyday (and utilizing a habit development tool like tdp.me to track this).
In Charlie Munger‘s amazing book, Poor Charlie’s Almanack(Iintend to blog about this book), he mentions multiple times throughout the book about his own obsession with the power of compounding, not only as it relates to finances but also to personal learning and development. His practice and his focus is very simple: How can I become a little bit smarter about the world today than I was yesterday? I don’t know the outcome, I don’t know if it makes me rich or broke, but I know I can control this, do it everyday (by reading, writing, speaking with and learning from others), and I know it will help me take a step forward in the world. It’s working on my swing instead of just trying to hit home runs.