How To Snowball-Effect Your Whole Damn Life
I have been obsessing over the 4-Hour Chef recently, the book by Timothy Ferriss.
Not only has it made me, for the first time, appreciate cooking… but I’ve come to enjoy food, literally and conceptually, much more than ever.
And… I have come to see the kitchen as a great springboard for innovation and creativity.
One of the very first things Tim covers in the book is learning how to taste. And one of the suggestions is to try out new and odd taste combinations. Like chocolate ice cream and olive oil – who’da thunk it?
My favorite discovery so far is cinnamon. It’s amazing how many things are better with some cinnamon. Everything from Chili con Carne to a plain cup of coffee.
Anyway, trying out new and different flavors is the exact process of innovation in any field. Mixing and matching things, seeing what works and discarding what doesn’t.
In marketing, Jay Abraham is famous for this. He’s the 9 Billion Dollar Man, and he’s worked in hundreds of different industries. The marketing done in most markets is highly incestuous — everyone’s doing the same thing. In reality, there are hundreds of ways you can do anything. So Jay would take something that worked for a client in one industry and apply it in another. In the first industry it may have been old hat, but revolutionary in the second.
The deeper you go into this, the more you’ll see how incredibly broadly this applies to all areas of life. One of the things I’m obsessed with is finding elegant solutions. As in, a single thing I can apply to one thing and have it create ripple effects which impact all areas of my life. My biggest such discovery so far is cold-approach social skills, as you know. Another is writing.
Thinking on paper
Writing is essentially thinking on paper. I think most people would agree that your ability to think is one of your greatest, if not the single greatest asset you have. Improving your ability to think well is one of very few things which will change everything for you. You’ll make better decisions. You’ll arrive at better conclusions more quickly. You’ll be better with other people. You’ll be able to communicate your ideas more effectively. You’ll have stronger willpower and more resources to accomplish whatever you want accomplished. And on and on and on.
The ripple effects caused by improving your thinking abilities is utterly pervasive throughout everything.
But… as I also think you would agree, it’s difficult to improve your thinking in real time. Like catching yourself mid-thought and changing your mind and saying “I think I could think about that in a different way…” – that doesn’t happen.
But since writing is thinking on paper, the simplest hack to get better at thinking is to get better at writing. As you’re writing, it’s easy to correct yourself. You can study great writing and learn about what makes it great. Then you can make your own writing better, tighter, cleaner.
Clear writing is strong writing. As you get better at writing, you’re training your brain to express itself more clearly and more powerfully. As you’re developing your ability to write more clearly – a process which is very tangible and gives you direct feedback – you’re simultaneous training your brain to think more clearly not only while you’re writing, but all the time.
That’s a big reason why I write every day, and why I think most people should learn how to write. If not master, at least get familiar with the fundamentals.
Leverage & instant momentum
Many, many skills have cross-application. Like cinnamon, or writing. During Tim Ferriss’ launch of his new book, I saw an interview with him where he talked about language learning. He mentioned how Japanese people will have a very hard time learning a lot of languages, including English, because the sounds used in the Japanese language are so distinct and different from most other languages. Except Spanish. Japanese people can learn Spanish relatively easily because they use similar sounds.
In other words: They can leverage the things they already know to accomplish a new objective.
This is truly the 80/20 approach to learning new things, or making progress in anything from languages to business building.
Whenever you’re about to learn something knew, ask yourself what things you already know that you can apply in the new area. That way you don’t have to start from scratch. Which means you can hit the ground running and quickly gain momentum.
By applying your previous skills, talents and knowledge to a new field, you’ll conquer the new field exponentially quicker than if you didn’t. But along the journey of learning the rest of this new skill, you’ll also learn a whole bunch of other new stuff that didn’t previously have a connection to your existing knowledge. And that adds to your base of knowledge. So when you tackle the next skill, you can learn that even faster.
That’s how you apply the snowballing, multiplying effect to your whole life.