"Playing it safe is the riskiest course of all."

Hey all,

Here are a few things I've been writing and pondering lately. Enjoy this week's issue and if you're feeling inspired, pass it on.

1. Work in Slow Motion

Busy work is stressful. Meaningful work is satisfying.

There will be more distractions than ever in 2017. It's up to you to strip away the busy work and focus on what matters. It'll be more satisfying and way less stressful.

Years ago, a mentor told me a story about NFL quarterback Joe Montana. He wasn’t the fastest guy on the field and didn’t have the strongest arm, but he saw the field in slow motion. It was his unfair advantage.

This mentor explained this as I was struggling to pick up new skills and feeling overwhelmed by all the work on my plate. “Prioritize the important stuff,” he said. “And everything else will slow down.”

2. Self-Control Is Just Empathy With Your Future Self

I feel smarter after reading this great piece from Ed Yong at The Atlantic:

Empathy depends on your ability to overcome your own perspective, appreciate someone else’s, and step into their shoes. Self-control is essentially the same skill, except that those other shoes belong to your future self—a removed and hypothetical entity who might as well be a different person. So think of self-control as a kind of temporal selflessness. It’s Present You taking a hit to help out Future You.

3. Domino’s CEO: Playing it safe is the riskiest course of all

This is a great article from Bill Taylor at the Harvard Business Review about how Domino's made a better pizza, transformed into a tech company, took some huge risks and 18x'd their stock price.

Two of the great ills of executive life are what [Domino's CEO Patrick Doyle] calls, borrowing from behavioral economics, “omission bias” and “loss aversion.” Omission bias is the tendency to worry more about doing something than not doing something, because everyone sees the results of a move gone bad, and few see the costs of moves not made. Loss aversion describes the tendency to play not to lose rather than play to win. “The pain of loss is double the pleasure of winning,” he argues, so the natural inclination is to be cautious, even in situations that demand creativity.

Leaders who want to shake things up have to be comfortable with the idea that “failure is an option,” Doyle concludes. In a world of hyper-competition and nonstop disruption, playing it safe is the riskiest course of all.

4. Mental Models I Find Repeatedly Useful

A great post from DuckDuckGo CEO and founder Gabriel Weinberg. Enjoy.

A mental model is just a concept you can use to help try to explain things (e.g. Hanlon’s Razor — “never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by carelessness.”). There are tens of thousands of mental models, and every discipline has their own set that you can learn through coursework, mentorship, or first-hand experience.

There is a much smaller set of concepts, however, that come up repeatedly in day-to-day decision making, problem solving, and truth seeking. As [Charlie Munger] says, “80 or 90 important models will carry about 90% of the freight in making you a worldly‑wise person.”

Have a great week!