3 Minute Monday
I had an awesome conversation with Iain McGilchrist last week.
The tension between cognition and intuition is something I’ve been thinking about for a long time.
Letting go of thinking and relying on feeling to make decisions and guide your actions.
The thing is that when you first start out doing anything, you have very little useful experience to rely on.
So instead, many people rely on pure cerebral horsepower.
They out-think, out-obsess and out-work their competition to become effective.
This cognitive, deliberate strategy works great in the beginning.
It’s effortful, but effective.
The interesting challenge is what happens a few years later when you’ve accumulated some experience.
Now is the time when you can stop being so deliberate and start being more effortless, natural and graceful with how you conduct your chosen pursuit.
Iain looked at Isle Of Man motorbike racers and discovered that they’re operating at a speed where their conscious processing simply doesn’t have time to kick in.
Almost the entire race is completed on instinct alone.
There is an ease, speed and wisdom available from our gut which gets shut down when we rely on a cognitive, rational approach for everything we do.
This period after you’ve accumulated experience, but before you’ve learned to rely on your gut is the Chasm Of Cognitive Effort.
You’ve ingrained a habit of conscious control for years and years.
And this habit has been rewarded with success, reinforcing it and making it seem like a very effective strategy.
But just like when Tiger Woods had to reconfigure his golf swing from scratch to go from being one of the best to the very best in the world.
Sometimes there is a ceiling to your current approach.
What got you here won’t get you there.
Confucius said this kind of reprogramming is essential to realizing wu-wei – action that comes naturally.
“In the early stages of training, an aspiring Confucian gentleman needs to memorize entire shelves of archaic texts, learn the precise angle at which to bow, and learn the lengths of the steps with which he is to enter a room.His sitting mat must always be perfectly straight.All of this rigor and restraint, however, is ultimately aimed at producing a cultivated, but nonetheless genuine, form of spontaneity.Indeed, the process of training is not considered complete until the individual has passed completely beyond the need for thought or effort.”
The next stage of your development might not be more effort, but more ease.
Not more grind, but more grace.
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This week’s upcoming episodes:
Nick Maggiulli – a breakdown of data-driven insights which explain the best ways to become wealthy. Saving, earning, investing, spending, mindset around money. This is a must listen.
General Robert Spalding – China’s plan for global domination was written in a secret playbook by two Chinese Colonels in 1999. Going back through it in 2022 with the General is fascinating and terrifying.
Dr Christian Busch – the science of luck and how to create it in your life. Dr Busch’s lab has identified the tactics and strategies of high-luck individuals so you can be lucky too.
THINGS I’VE LEARNED
Handgrip strength is a pulling tactic.
Among men, stronger handgrip strength is correlated with having more total sexual partners and an earlier onset of sexual behaviour
“Handgrip strength in males is an indicator of selection for overall physical strength among males.”
h/t Rob Henderson
Fish are sometimes not fish.
What we call fish are actually several distinct groups of animals only very distantly related to each other.
Or to put it another way, a salmon is more closely related to your mum than it is to a shark.
Computers are easier to make than babies.
We produce 200x more new computers per second than new human beings worldwide.
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If you haven’t heard the Iain McGilchrist episode yet that today’s newsletter was inspired by, listen here.