Ten powerful things I have learnt in 2021!

Well, 2021 has been a hard year for a decent majority of folks across the globe, and I remain no exception here. From being hitting my rock bottom to getting infected with Covid, especially when my emotional quotient was absolutely zero, to the financial struggle, which is quite a common stuff for a middle-class dude. Nevertheless, I took responsibility for my own fate and started working on the things where I felt I was actually lagging. Long story short, Now I’m pretty better in shape mentally, physically, and kind of financially, and if you ask me to credit someone for this elevation in my graph, then my answer would be “Books,” without even a second thought. However, Naval Ravikant and Professor Jordan Peterson were the two folks who helped me broader my way of looking at the world. I don’t want to get into details about Naval and JP, because that’s what Google is meant for that.

So, coming back to the set of things that 2021 has made me learn, and probably made me 0.01% smart, 1% wise, and improved my EQ >1% positively, viz;

First Principles Reasoning in Physics.

The First Principle of thinking in Physics is also known as the reasoning from the first principles, is one of the most ancient methods of problem-solving technique, irrespective of the domain. Legends of the Physics world from Aristotle to Noble Prize-winning Physicist, Richard Feynman happened to be a fan of this very principle. But, I suppose, nobody embodies it as effectively as our Lord, Elon Musk.

Elon happens to be widespread his arms to too many ideas such as SpaceX, Tesla, Neauralink, Hyperloop, etc. If you happen to come across any of the famous interviews of Elon Musk, there will be the mention of First Principles.

Elon’s definition of First Principles is that “You boil things down to its fundamental truth, and then you reason up from there.”

Musk said in an interview, “I tend to approach things from a physics framework. Physics teaches you to reason from first principles rather than by analogy. “So I said, okay, let’s look at the first principles. What is a rocket made of? Aerospace-grade aluminum alloys, plus some titanium, copper, and carbon fiber. Then I asked, what is the value of those materials on the commodity market? It turned out that the materials cost of a rocket was around 2% of the typical price.” Jeez! It’s that simple!

One good thing about First Principles is that It was be applied anywhere, irrespective of your area of interest. I got it applied to one of my professional projects, and yup, I got that freaking project completed in flying colors :) Now, that’s the power of First Principles.

Takeaway: “Physics is the law. Everything else is a recommendation.”- Elon Musk. Period.

Eisenhower’s Decision Matrix: A modern hack to boost productivity!

I was kind of confused soul to choose over which are the right set of tasks that need to be completed in the right way, irrespective of being in personal or professional life, and this hack, in fact, made my life quite easy.

1. “Important and Urgent”: Do it now and immediately.

2. “Important and Not Urgent”: Decide with a firm deadline.

3. “Not Important and Urgent”: Delegate. Either your colleagues or subordinates can assist you in this.

4. “Not Important and Not Urgent”: Delete this task even without a second thought.

Maybe the force of Eisenhower’s “Four D’s”, be with you.

Takeaway: If prioritizing the tasks was an art, then Eisenhower was the Piccasso of it!

The Pygmalion Effect

This is also called the Rosenthal effect, which is a circumstance of higher expectations that leads to improved performance in the given area. For instance, if a teacher keeps high expectations on one of the students, the probability is high that the student performs better, and is vice versa, i.e., if the teacher doubts a student on his performance, it’s high that the student could perform worse. The basic principle of the Pygmalion effect is that the targets of the expectations internalize their positive labels, and the same principle works the other way round as well in decreasing trendline.

Takeaway: Positive faith breeds positive results.

Dunning-Kruger Effect

Dunning-Kruger effect, in psychology, is a cognitive bias whereby people with limited knowledge or competence in a given intellectual or social domain greatly overestimate their own knowledge or competence in that domain relative to objective criteria, or to the performance of their peers or of people in general.

The perfect example for this would be an amateur chess player with one or two wins who would majorly underestimate his opponent counterpart, who might a silent killer in the world of chess. This is basically where your knowledge and experience multiply to become your wisdom.

Takeaway: Do your homework, and never ever underestimate your opponent.

Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method invented by Francesco Cirillo, where you pause your work after a 25mins stretch with a short break of typically 5mins.

Steps involved in Pomodoro Technique,

1. Decide on a task.

2. Set a Pomodoro time (25mins stretch, ideally)

3. Work on the task.

4. End work when the timer rings and take a short break.

5. Set the timer basically for the three Pomodoro.

6. After the fourth Pomodoro, take a long break which typically might be of 30mins, and go back to Step2.

Takeaway: Time Management which basically looked like rocket science, can be made a cakewalk with the Pomodoro technique.

Naval’s Lion Framework.

Naval says we humans are meant to hunt like lions, and not to graze like cows.

He added to it saying, “Working 40 hrs/week are the relics of the industrial age. Knowledge workers function like athletes.”

What he meant to say was, “We live in an information age, where working round the clock makes no sense. We are the folks of knowledge. “We need to train harder in order to assault on the set task. Sprint in order to achieve what is our prey. Rest when we are tired once we finish the task, which can be a power saver mode. Collect the feedback on possible improvements, and reassess to work smarter and better.”

He further added to it saying, “Working hard is not always the best option available in the room. The guy working in the nearby grocery store might be working hard, or harder than you and me. It’s what you do, who you do it with, how you do it, weighs much more important than how hard you work.”

Yeah, Naval is a legend and is an ocean of wisdom.

Takeaway: Train and sprint, and then rest and reassess with a feedback loop for a better output.

Ebbinghaus’ Forgetting Curve

The forgetting curve hypothesis is the decline of memory retention in time. This technique shows how the information is lost over time when there is no attempt made to retain the information.

Ebbinghaus hypothesized that the speed of forgetting depends upon a number of factors, such as;

1. Difficulty of the learned thing.

2. Its representation.

3. Physiological factors such as stress and lack of sleep.

Ways to combat the forgetting curve,

1. Spaced learning.

2. Make it accessible.

3. Keep it engaging.

4. Put on your repetition.

Takeaway: If humans can reach the moon, then the very default forgetting curve can also be combatted.

Jordan Peterson’s Disciplined Monster.

JP is another legend who saved me from my rock bottom. I remember one of the Twitter handles suggested checking on his lectures on YouTube in the early days of this year, and when I asked him why is JP famous for, he replied me saying, “If you watch his lectures with all the concentration on Earth, you will want your son to be like him.” Jesus! After listening to JP all these whiles, I for sure want my kids to be like him!

JP says, “A harmless man is not a good man. A good man is a very very dangerous man, who has that under voluntary control.”

He adds on to this by saying, “Rabbit is a harmless creature. It causes harm to nobody on Earth, it just eats grass on its own but then it gets eaten by superior animals in the fullness of time. So be a Lion. The lion is the king of the jungle because nobody wants to mess with the lion. Lion becomes a monster, and absolutely ruthless monster if somebody tries to fuck up with him. The same applies to the dangerously monster man provided he has that under his control.

Takeaway: Be an absolutely ruthless “Disciplined” monster.

“Life is a single-player game.”

This statement comes from Naval Ravikant again, which basically stems from the “Game Theory” concept.

Life is a single-player game. You’re born alone. You’re going to die alone. All of your interpretations are alone. All your memories are alone. You’re gone in three generations and no one cares. Before you showed up nobody cared. It’s all single-player.

Thus, if you are in your 20s or 30s, it’s a gentle reminder that you will barely be alive on this planet, in the next 60–70 years’ time frame. Yeah, it’s wisdom!

Takeaway: Have no expectations in life from anybody. You gotta save yourself, kiddo.

“Specialization is for Insects.” — Robert Heinlein

I got this line from Naval’s podcast with Joe Rogan. Naval picked this up from one of his friends saying, “Specialization is for insects.”

We got one life to live. Make everything that is possible. Make everything that satisfies your intellectual curiosity. Learn to code, learn to cook, learn to swim, learn to drive, act alone. Basically, do everything that interests the most out of you.”

In fact, after watching this podcast, I started to read books of every genre. I researched everything that interests me the best. I started reading Stock Market, Physics, Psychology, Persuasion, Game Theory, Philosophy, and what not!

I learnt from Naval Ravikant that we gotta read what we love until we love to read a book of any genre. Now if you lock me in a room for 24 hours giving a book in my hand, I will be the happiest person on Earth for heaven’s sake.

Takeaway: We are all gonna die someday. So make things that interest you the most out of you and have no regrets in life.

Well, in a nutshell, 2021 was a roller coaster ride for me which I probably assume the same to be with many, but life appears to be beautiful when focusing less on the negativity, and more on productivity.

Thanks for bearing my writing, and wish you all a super productive 2022 :)




"Your mistake is that you are writing to be read." - Naval Ravikant

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Vikyath Kumar

Vikyath Kumar

"Your mistake is that you are writing to be read." - Naval Ravikant

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