My top 10 imaginary dialogues

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“If you were to pick 10 of your favorite imaginary dialogues, what would they be?”

“The following [they are all links]:

Collective Creativity [<short read]
Collector [<short read]
Concept-Stacking [<short read]
How do you know you understand what you think you understand? [medium read]
Identity Design [<medium read]
On Magic and Models [<medium read]
On Magic and Models 2 [<medium read]
On Writing: The Blank Page [<medium read]
The Beautiful Game 2 [<medium read]
The Joy of Writing [<short read]

Life of Meaning 2

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is the meaning of life for you?”

“I like to express it as a mind-map. I call such mind-maps maps of meaning.

My highest-order map looks like this:

Click to enlarge

Each item on the map is itself a deep mind-map.”

The Art of Asking Questions 4

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How do you deliberately practice questioning?”

“I have a system for it. I’ve even created my own terminology.

The system has several components:

  • QuestionCollecting (QCollecting)
  • QuestionGeneration (QGeneration)
  • QuestionEvaluation (QEvaluation)
  • QuestionOptimization [<link; very short read] (QOptimization)
  • QuestionTemplating [<link; medium read] (QTemplating)

QCollecting is exactly what it sounds like. I collect questions to use as tools and to learn from them. Key to this process is collecting not only good questions but also bad ones – they help you identify error patterns.

QGeneration and QEvaluation are complementary practices.

QGeneration is the practice of generating multiple alternative questions. One component of it is a practice I call QStorming [<link; short read], which is essentially BrainStorming with questions. You start with a central point of focus (QFocus), which can be a theme or a problem you’re trying to solve, and you generate questions based on that focus.

QEvaluation is the practice of narrowing down the generated questions to discover the best ones. Another aspect of it is a practice I call QAnalysis: deconstructing questions with the purpose of learning from them.

QOptimization is the practice of optimizing questions. Taking a bad question and turning it into a good question. Taking a good question and turning it into an optimal question – or set of questions.

QTemplating is the practice of turning repeated question patterns (QPatterns) into question templates (QTemplates). This means, whenever you notice multiple questions with the same structure, keeping the fixed part of the questions and replacing the changing part with variables:

How can you optimize Learning?
How can you optimize Writing?
How can you optimize x? (QTemplate)

What ties everything together is a practice I call Meta-Questioning: the process of asking questions about asking questions – I call this type of questions Meta-Questions [<link; short read] (MQ).

Can you ask a better question? (MQ)
Can you ask a bigger question? (MQ)
Can you ask a x question? (MQTemplate)
Can you ask this question better? (MQ)

Quotes-as-Resource Experiment

I collect quotes. (My quotes collection is approaching 7,000 quotes.) I’ve been experimenting with ways of using quotes as a resource.

One way I do it is by creating lists of powerful inspirational quotes that I randomize and read from. I’ve found that reading multiple of them one after another amplifies their effect – I call this effect emotional flooding. For me, it works beautifully. Now I’d like to expand the experiment to others.

Here’s what you can help me with:

Read some quotes one after another from my shared quotes list [<link], maybe for a minute or so. (Every time you access the link, the quotes are displayed in random order.) I’m interested in how the experience makes you feel.

I’m interested in validating the emotional flooding effect. I realize the quotes may not be as powerful as they are for me – they are my quotes selection, based on my own model of reality. But I’m hoping it will have some effect, enough to validate the usefulness of the tool.

You can help me even more by reading from them when you’re feeling low. I’m interested in the extent to which it helps you recover balance.

P.S. If it works for you too, you can access the link any time you want. My public quotes are always available.

On Leverage and Clarity

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What are the highest-leverage things you could reflect – and incrementally make progress – on?”

“I need to give it some thought.”

“Having to think about it every time signals inefficiency. It means there’s room for optimization.”

“What do you have in mind?”

“Gain clarity on it once, and make the insight persistent.

Make an open list of the highest-leverage things you could reflect on. I call it the HL List. You can call it any way you want.

In the (inevitable) moments when you lack a clear focus, check the list and resume a path that feels most appealing in the moment.”

The Pause

Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. (Viktor Frankl)


Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“Between stimulus and response, there is a space only if you create it. This is a practice. Brian Johnson calls it Response-ability. I call it Creating Space.”

“How do you create space?”

“There’s a quote I love by Josh Waitzkin:

The small things are the big things.

It’s such a beautiful and critical principle, and most people think they can wait around for the big moments to turn it on. But if you don’t cultivate “turning it on” as a way of life in the little moments – and there are hundreds of times more little moments than big – then there’s no chance in the big moments.

This quote expresses a key aspect of the practice – and of Mastery more generally:

Practice in the little moments of life. Practice when you don’t need it so that you are prepared when you do need it.

You create space by pausing. I call this aspect of the practice, The Pause. What this means is creating brief micro-pauses throughout the day. Think of them as metaphoric ‘break-points’.

To practice is to remember to practice. The more often you do it, the more often you’ll remember to do it. It’s a positive feedback loop.

Surround yourself with reminders.

Put written reminders in various places in your environment.

Turn things in the environment and experiences into reminders. (Anchoring)

For instance, a great thing to anchor pausing to is the transitional space/time between activities.”

“What do you fill the pauses with?”

“Start by practicing only The Pause.

Pause, breathe, and smile.

Stay with it as long as you need until you deeply internalize it. Think of it as the seed. Once the seed has been planted, you can grow it into the next stage of the practice.”

Fearlessness

Distinguish between rational fears, with real consequences, and irrational fears, where there really aren’t any consequences. (Tim Ferris)


Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How can I become antifragile?”

Aim not just for courage, but fearlessness.

“Isn’t fear useful? It keeps us alive.”

Some fears are useful; most fears are useless. Useless fears are irrational. Useless fears are the main obstacle that keeps you from reaching your potential.

Whenever you experience fear, ask yourself:

Is this a useful or a useless fear?

Every time you identify a useless fear, practice fearlessness.”

Inspirational Materials as Resource 2

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How do you organize your bookmarks in the browser?”

“I have two folders: 20 and 80 (Pareto Principle). When I consider saving a bookmark, I ask myself:

Is this a 20 or an 80?

If it’s a 20, I save it in the 20 folder. If not, I save it in 80 folder.”

“Do you ever check the 80 folder?”

“No.”

“Then what’s the point having it?”

“The point is having a filter when I consider saving stuff for later. The 80/20 question is the filter. The folders are a persistent reminder to ask the question.

Within the 20 folder, I have a folder called Inspirational. As you know, I use inspirational materials as a resource [<link; short read].

When I want to read/watch something, I extract something at random from the 20 folder.
When I want to read/watch something and get inspired, I extract something at random from the Inspirational folder.”

“How do you randomize them?”

“I use a Firefox add-on called Random Bookmark From Folder [<link]. It’s also available for Chrome.”

Life-Games

Two things in life make you feel alive: Growing and Giving. (Tony Robbins)


Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What are life-games?”

“I think of my life as a game. I call it The Beautiful Game [<link; short read]. It’s a modular game made up of a myriad interlocking pieces – each piece a game. 

I call the Beautiful Game and the games that make it up, life-games.”

“What are the most important life-games?”

Growing and Giving.

The Beautiful Game is made up of two big games: The Inner Game and The Outer Game. The Inner Game is the Game of Growing; The Outer Game is the Game of Giving.

The Game of Growing is the game of becoming the best you can possibly be. It is made up of two games: The Game of Wisdom and The Game of Mastery.

The Game of Giving is the game of using your Gifts in greatest service to the world, of being an exceptional value provider – the highest expression of Love. Another name for it is The Game of Contribution.

All these are daily games. In their compounded effect, they shape the well-lived life.”


Explorers of Meaning

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What do you make of Austin Kleon’s idea ‘Steal like an artist’?”

“‘Stealing’ is a metaphor. Implicit to the concept of stealing is the concept of ownership. So implicit to ‘steal like an artist’ is the idea that ideas can be owned.

I reject this notion. We are part of a vast collective process [<link; short read], a form of collective play.

We are all playing in the same universe of meaning. We are all playing with the same building-blocks of meaning. We combine building-blocks to form new blocks, like children playing with Legos. (I call the underlying principle, Modularity.)

Some of the blocks we combine have emergent properties. An emergent block of meaning represents a higher-order level of organization [<link; short read]. Think how atoms combine to form cells, which combine to form emergent higher and higher-order living structures – the same process applies to meaning. (I call the underlying principle, Chunking.)

We are explorers of meaning.

Over the course of a lifetime, every human being can explore a tiny possibility space within the universe of meaning. Taken as a whole however, at the level of humanity, we can explore a vast possibility space – and the more interconnected the world becomes, the vaster this space.”

The Art of Perception 13

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is the essence of the Art of Perception?”

Attention and Meaning. 

By Attention I mean two processes: Directing Attention and Pattern-Recognition. These are two fundamental operations of the human mind.

By Meaning I mean three processes: Decoding Meaning (which is essentially a kind of pattern-recognition), Encoding Meaning (imbuing things with meaning), and Creating Meaning (Sense-Making).

Attention and Meaning form the heart of Perception. Together they create your subjective reality. The Art of Perception is the art of optimizing Attention and Meaning to shape your subjective reality.

The Art of Perception is the Art of Reality Design.”