Use These Powerful Thinking Tools To Solve Your Hardest Problems with David Epstein

09.05.2019 - By The Science of Success

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In this episode we discuss powerful thinking tools and strategies you can use to break through tough problems and give yourself confidence and clarity when you’re dealing with uncertain situations. We share the breakthrough strategy that was used to invent astrophysics, explore how you can make tough life and career choices, and show you how you can use quick experiments to test, learn, and get results quickly. We share all of this and much more in with our guest David Epstein. David Epstein is the author of Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World, and of the New York Times bestseller The Sports Gene. He has master's degrees in environmental science and journalism and has worked as an investigative reporter for ProPublica  and as a senior writer for Sports Illustrated, writing some of their most high-profile investigative stories.We don’t teach the skill of actually THINKING in today’s world. There’s a HUGE advantage in connecting ideas and learning how to think broadly, especially as people specialize more. The more and more people specialize the more powerful range and broad thinking becomes. For much of the 20th century most of progress was driven by specialization, but beginning in the 1980s, most breakthroughs started coming from multidisciplinary combinations and breadth, not depth. The “cult of the head start” - the drive to specialize as narrowly and as early as possible. What can we learn from the story of Tiger Woods? Traditional chess is an activity where early specialization is really important. Moraveck’s paradox - humans and machines have opposite strengths and weaknesses.In freestyle chess, you outsource the pattern study to the computer, and you focus on the higher level strategy - it becomes a completely different game. That’s what has happened to success in today’s world.“A broader set of integrative skills” is where humans can add the most value. How “wicked learning environments” like business, investing, medicine, and human interaction are much trickier to navigate, and what that means for how you learn and improve Learning and improvement in “kind domains” vs “wicked domains” Using “Fermi Problems” to navigate tough situations and learning environmentsThe Importance of “broadly applicable reasoning tools” over highly specific knowledge Analogies are one of the most important tools for creative problem solvingSuccessful problem solvers are more able to determine the deep structure of a problem before they proceed to match a strategy to it.“Switchers are winners” - why changing your job or changing what you study can end up being a huge win for you. The economics concept of “match quality” and how it can impact the direction of your lifeWho wins the tradeoff between early and late specializers? Grit is great, but strategic quitting can be a great thing. Even the researcher of Grit, Angela Duckworth, supports changing directions. Which among my various possible selves should I start to explore now? How can I do that?Taking a beginning fiction writing class helped David become a better nonfiction writer. How you can use the Japanese concept of “Bansho” to improve your thinking and become a more effective learner “Making connections” knowledge  vs “Using procedures” knowledge. Drawing broad and deep connections instead of learning routines. The power of using “Interleaving” as a learning method. Forcing learners into "conceptual thinking" improves deep and longer lasting learning. Homework: Create a “book of small experiments” and start testing the things you might want to do or learn. Do something new once a quarter. Create a hypothesis of why you want to explore that interest and test the hypothesis. Homework: Whenever you’re thinking about a project you’re going to take on, you will make predictions about how that project will go, use the ‘outside view’ instead of the ‘inside view.’

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