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29 Things I learned from re-reading Clear Thinking: Turning Ordinary Moments into Extraordinary Results by Shane Parrish

I don't reread books that often, but I did this one by accident and got a lot more out of it. I actually bought the hardback book so that I could read it more thoroughly.


    1. Small decisions compound over time to produce significant results.

    You will put yourself in a good position by making many consistent small decisions. Being in a good position is a much better advantage than being intelligent. It is a way of being prepared.

    2. Establishing time and space to think clearly can significantly advance your understanding and effectiveness in handling situations.

    3. Respond instead of react

    Instead of reacting impulsively to situations, it's beneficial to think through the circumstances, helping to manage and potentially overcome default reactions driven by ego or emotion. Give yourself time to respond instead of react.

    4. Any energy that is put towards a short-term solution might be better spent on a long-term fix.

    Depending on the nature of the problem

    5. Stoicism: Anticipate problems and then work through solutions using a Pre-mortem instead of a Post Mortem.

    6. Establish simple rituals, like taking a deep breath before responding in tense situations, to better control reactions and change outcomes.

    7. Focusing on the right outcome rather than preserving one's ego leads to better decision-making and acceptance of the best solutions, irrespective of their origin.

    8. Minimize decision fatigue by establishing rules for routine actions, which streamlines processes and conserves mental energy.

    9. Embracing mistakes as learning opportunities and swiftly moving to correct and learn from them prevents compounded errors and facilitates growth.

    10. Separate identification of problems from their resolution and use strategic thinking to anticipate and prepare for challenges.

    There should be a problem definition phase and a problem-solving phase. If you are in a group, ask each person to define the problem in their way. Everybody has their own idea of what a problem is, and has their own interaction with it, especially in a work setting.

    11. Evaluate decisions using multiple lenses to understand the full implications, including what alternatives are available, the potential consequences, and what might be sacrificed. Measure the Opportunity Cost.

    He gave the anecdote of a young Andrew Carnegie. When there was a train wreck, it blocked one of the tracks. He realized that the value of the train cars was less than the loss of the use of the track if the wreck was cleared in a timely manner. He took the initiative to send a telegram in his boss's name and instructed the workers to burn the cars to clear the tracks.

    12. Bullets before cannonballs

    Make small, low risk test before dropping a lot of resources, time, or money on a particular result. but once you have made a decision, go big.

    13. Avoid losing instead of concentrating on winning

    Warren Buffet has two rules of investing. Rule One: Don't lose money. Rule two: Don't forget Rule One.

    14. Social inertia is where everybody does the same thing

    Has kids at the same time in life, etc.

    15. To use inertia for your advantage, establish rituals.

    A ritual would be taking a deep breath before you respond to somebody in a meeting or argument. You will find that by observing this ritual, you usually change what you are about to say.

    16. Defending yourself and getting upset wastes a tremendous amount of time.

    This helps a lot when interacting with people in a high-conflict situation. If you consciously avoid defending yourself and getting upset, you will reach a resolution much faster and be less likely to dwell on negative outcomes.

    17. Self-confidence makes you focus on outcomes over ego.

    Embrace the correct solution, even if it is not your own.

    18. High standards will help an organization more than star power.

    19. Create a personal board of exemplars.

    This would be people that you look up to. This could be a virtual board of people you look up to and who standards you emulate. This is a way around or beyond the you are the product of the five people you know Select five you want to emulate.

    20. The first mistake is expensive. If you don’t own up to it, that is the second mistake. The second mistake can cost a fortune.

    21. Admit mistakes, get them over with quicker.

    • The first step is to accept responsibility
    • The second step is to learn from the mistake
    • The third step is to repair the damage
    • The fourth step is to see what you can do to do better next time

    22. The most powerful story is the one that you tell yourself. It can either keep you stuck in your past or move forward to the future.

    23. A reaction is not a decision. It still is what happens but decisions are better.

    24. Avoid solving the wrong problem

    Get to the root cause.

    25. Three lenses of opportunity costs

    • Compared with what?
    • And then what?
    • At the expense of what?

    Most people only look at problems from the first lens. It is important to use all three. For example, when you pick a car, the first lens is what kind it is. A sports car looks cool, or a pick up truck will help me carry things. The second level is what will happen after you buy that particular car. And the third level is what will you give up. You always give up something.

    26. If you can’t write down your decisions before you make them. You don’t really understand your perspective.

    27. The decision-making process is more important and what you can control. The outcome is frequently out of your control.

    28. Most information is irrelevant

    29. FLOP: is the First Lost OPportunity.

    If you've lost an opportunity by taking too long to make a decision, that is an indication that you should go forward with your plan in its current state.

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