Generalization – The Superpower

I was reading this Twitter thread on Ben Horowitz’s new book on culture. The book’s content is apparent to anyone who has spent time in a corporate setup. I have been listening to the audiobook – “Zen: The Art of Simple Living.” Again, the content is not radically new, something you would already know instinctually. Off late, there has been a spurt of twitter accounts dishing out wisdom. Most of the tweets seem to be a regurgitation of common sense.

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Am I trying to say that they do not add any value? No, the opposite. They are doing an excellent service by codifying common sense into pithy one-liners, simple rules, and principles.

All these people are generalizing lessons learned from specific instances into a broader set of rules and guidelines which apply to more expansive areas of life.

What do I mean by the above? Let me explain with an example.

Let us say that a company advertises telling – Deposit your money with us for two years for a guaranteed return of 15%. The bond yield rate is 8%. You see this scheme as attractive and invest. After a year, the company owner goes absconding, taking your money with her.

How do you generalize the lesson from this misadventure?

Be skeptical of any scheme(gold, real estate, etc.) that promises GUARANTEED returns over and above the current bond yield rate.

I believe generalizing lessons learned from specific situations to a much broader arena of life is a superpower which everyone should develop. Get into the habit of doing this for everything. If you followed a particular process that led you to success, try to make this process generic so that you can apply it elsewhere too.

Generalizing wisdom helps in pattern matching as well as molding the way you think. You begin to see patterns in your thoughts and actions where you can apply the principles created out of past experiences.

This habit sharpens decision making. You start seeing patterns in decision-making scenarios and can base your decision on a previously created rule.

You may not be able to create rules out of everything – creating a step by step guide on how to balance a bicycle is next to impossible. Wherever it is possible, do it; train your instincts with the rest and let your intuition take care of it.

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Photo by Mpho Mojapelo on Unsplash

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