Updated: Aug 27
One of my favourite mental models from Charlie Munger, one of the best investors ever, is called 'Inversion Thinking'. It takes advantage of our mind's incredible ability at finding everything that is wrong with a situation and find an abundance of problems. With inversion thinking, we allow our brain to find all the problems, to then naturally come to a solution to each problem. Using this mental model allows our brain to work effortlessly, and find potential problems that we may normally not find when focusing only on solutions or the things that could go right.
Using the theory of Inversion Thinking, here are 14 ways to ensure you will be unsuccessful.
Have no idea what you want. Never set any goals, and even if you do, be as vague as possible when setting them so you are never really sure what you need to do or if you even achieve them. Just go with the flow and let life happen to you.
Do not try. At all. Do not try to improve, do not try to learn anything, just stay exactly as you are, right now, forever. If you do decide to try something (why?), and you fail, give up immediately.
Do nothing. Sit around all day, play video games, scroll Instagram and TikTok, and just do not take any action, ever.
A good one for money & wealth - spend way more than you earn. Literally, spend as much money as you can and go into as much debt as possible trying to look as rich as you can. The Jones's are cool, keep up.
Another one for money & wealth - do not bring any value to the marketplace, ever.
One for health - eat a heap of shit food, and never do any exercise. Make every meal a cheat meal. Enjoy.
Always focus on the past. Remember when you had a left and right knee, not a good and bad one? You know, the 'Good Ol' Days', when life was easy, at the top of your game. Yeah, just focus on that. Do not think about right now, and definitely do not think about the future.
Make everything as complicated as possible. Why have you not thought about every single possibility for every single event? Life is a mystery, and we should make it way more complicated than it needs to be. The more complex you make your life, the more unsuccessful you will be, guaranteed.
Compare yourself to others, especially those who are way better than you. Why are you not as good as the person who has been working so much longer than you have to achieve what they have achieved? Or look the way they do? Or have as much money as they do? Make yourself feel terrible by constantly focusing on the people who have more money, are better looking, are fitter, faster, and more skillful than you, and ask yourself why you are not them. There will always be people better than you, and the best thing to do is to focus on that and envy them.
Do exactly what everyone else does. If you do exactly what the average person does, guess what? You will be average too! Congratulations, by following the bottom 99%, you will wind up well within that bottom 99% who are struggling constantly. Just do what they do and you will definitely be unsuccessful as well.
Have no self-awareness whatsoever. Self-awareness is for those successful chumps. You are not going to try to improve anyway, so there is no point in understanding your strengths and weaknesses. You are not going to set any goals or work towards them, so there is no point in knowing what it is you truly want to do every day, or what makes you happy and fulfilled. Self-awareness is only for those who want to get better and that is not you.
Do stuff you hate every day. Work a job you hate, never see your friends, and never do anything that makes you happy. Life is suffering, right?
Always see the worst in things. There is a positive and negative side to every objective fact or event in life, and by this point, you already know which side you are going to be focusing on to be unsuccessful. That is right, the negative. Doubt that anything good could happen, expect that everything will go wrong, and I guarantee you will be unsuccessful.
Never do the things you know you should. All those things you know you should do to improve, to achieve your goals, yeah, we are not doing any of that.
So there are my 14 ways to be unsuccessful. It is pretty easy, right? Can you think of other ways to be unsuccessful? Have some fun with coming up with your own (like I clearly did), and let me know in the comments!
Now obviously, this is meant to be a light-hearted piece, pointing out the obvious nature of what we know makes us unsuccessful. You know all of the above things make you unsuccessful already, but how many do you still struggle with? I certainly still struggle with a few.
The point of this article was to change the perspective on some of the things we humans struggle with when trying to achieve our goals. All of the above points are obvious when you write them down, but how often do we actually think about or address the constraints to our success, the things we do that hold us back? The point of this article was meant to be a fun way of pointing out the obvious things we should not be doing, and act as a gentle slap in the face for the points that you still struggle with and need to address.
With that being said, this article would not be complete without reversing our Inversion Thinking ways of being unsuccessful. Presenting; The 14 Ways to Be Successful;
Get super clear on exactly what it is you want! List out all the things you want to achieve, want to own, and want to experience. Set crystal clear goals, because once you do that, it will act like a GPS driving at night: you will have your destination, and you will be able to see just in front of you, the next 1 or 2 steps, and that is all you need to get to your destination. Your aim when setting a goal should be a yes/no answer - "Have I achieved my goal, yes or no?" Binary options give you no room for 'close enough'.
Get up and try to get better every single day. Like the Japanese term 'Kaizen' - Seek Continuous Improvement. Every single day, try to learn, try to improve your skills and try to move your business or career forward. Physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally, in business, in wealth, love, happiness, whatever; just try to get better every day.
Take massive action! Use your goals to plan your day in advance, set tasks, and then knock them off one by one in order of priority. Always start with the most important task, the one that will make the biggest impact on your goal. Even if (and especially if) it is the hardest one.
Live below your means! It is so simple, but if you live off less than you earn, guess what? You have some left over. Crazy right? Stop trying to look rich in replacement of actually being rich.
Bring as much value to the marketplace as possible. Money is an exchange of value. If you want more money, bring more value to the marketplace - with your time, your skills, your services, and/or your products. Whatever you have right now, without even creating anything extra, I guarantee you could be bringing more value to the marketplace than you currently are. You could be selling your knowledge & expertise online, teaching people a skill you have, or being more productive at work. There are always things you could be doing to be creating more value, you just need to find them. Think about two things: what you have right now that you could turn into value for the market, and also what you could create to bring value to the market.
Body composition, weight loss, it is all simple, and you know this already - eat fewer calories than you burn and you will lose weight, that is it. Eat fewer calories, move more so you burn more calories, and continue this until you are in a calorie deficit, and by some miracle (called simple biology) you will lose weight.
Forget the past, learn from it and move on! Coming back to the GPS and headlights in the dark - focus forward! Focus on where you are going, where you want to get to, and what you need to do right now to bring those two points together. Think about this: you do not think about a turn you made once you have made it, you just continue on the path to your destination. That is exactly how life is - set the destination, and keep going until you get there. It's not a straight line, you will make turns, even u-turns, but as long as you keep that destination in mind and keep driving towards it, you will get there.
Keep it Simple Stupid! Almost always, the simplest solution is the best one. Simple plans are easy to act on, simple explanations are easiest to understand. Keeping it simple makes life, work, and goal achievement, easier, and more peaceful. Think about how you can simplify your decisions, your goals, and your processes.
Don't compare yourself to others! You can learn from others (as long as they are better than you at that thing you are learning) but comparing is unfair to you. No one has the same set of experiences, knowledge, or compounded results from the work they have done. Whether that is knowledge or skills or some other type of goal such as physique. This comes back to just trying to get better every day. Your day 30 on your body composition journey is not someone else's day 1000. Focus on yourself, focus on being the best version of yourself, work towards that every day, and make progress.
Ignore what 99% of people do! Learn only from people who achieved the goal you want to achieve. Be very specific about that, you don't get fitness tips from Warren Buffet, you get financial advice. In the same way, you should not get financial advice from your friends who are not themselves super-rich. Do not do what everyone else is doing. Be different, be you. Authenticity is the biggest advantage in the marketplace right now.
Become hyper-self-aware. Know what you are good at and what you are not good at so you can triple down on what you are good at, and delegate what you are not good at where possible. Know what you want, know what you are passionate about and curious about, and what makes you happy. Know what you know and what you don't know. Know what areas your ego gets in the way, and what you are confident about.
Do stuff you love every day! Life is not misery. You must make time to do things you love every day. If your work or your current way of making money is not something you love, then you need to make specific time to do things you do love, every single day. The long-term goal for anyone should be to make money doing what you love most so that you can do that every single day and still make time for other things you love such as family and kids and sports.
Always see the best in things! Have faith! Expect things to go well, and try to see the positive side of every fact or situation. I heard this great speech recently about the master key to influencing yourself and others, and it came down to this: there are objective facts in the world, external to us, and how we view them determines how we act. You can never have a one-sided coin, or up without down or day without night, the world is dual in nature and so there is a positive and negative side to everything. This is where humans come in. We can choose to focus on the positive or the negative, and what we choose to focus on determines our beliefs. Our belief can either be that we believe that our desired outcome, the positive, will occur, or we believe that the negative or undesired will occur, which is also known as doubt. The belief we determine creates a feeling: a belief in the positive creates a feeling of faith and anticipation, and a belief in the negative creates a fear of the future outcome, which is known as anxiety. Now the only reason people do something is that they feel like it. The feeling of anticipation that our desired result will occur makes us very much feel like doing the thing that we see as needing to be done in order to reach that desired outcome: it is very motivating. The point of all this is to focus on the positive side of everything so that you can carry that belief that you will achieve your desired result or that things will work out for the best, to create that feeling of faith and anticipation, which will motivate you to do anything that you deem necessary to achieve that desired outcome that you are expecting. This leads to;
Do the things you know you should. People know what needs to be done to achieve their goals - you know what needs to be done. You might not know every single step of the way, but you will at least know the next step. You also probably know the basics of almost anything you desire to achieve. As I've already pointed out in a couple of examples above - you know you need to eat less and move more to lose weight, and you know you need to spend less than you earn if you want to save and invest. You know the basic principles of almost anything. You know you should be trying to find a way to build a business and make money out of doing the thing you love and could provide the most value to the world. We know what needs to be done to be successful, we just need to motivate ourselves to do it. We need to create a stronger belief and anticipation that by doing the things we know we need to do, we fully anticipate achieving our desired result. If we do that, we will feel like doing the thing that needs to be done. Think about it, people who tie the act of running every day to the belief and anticipation that by doing so they will run a marathon in December in less than four hours (which is their desired outcome), will run more consistently. Because they strongly anticipate that A (running every day) leads to B (running a marathon in December in less than 4 hours), they 'feel' like running every single day. The stronger the feeling of anticipation that an activity will lead to the desired outcome, the more we feel like doing it. What is that thing you should be doing consistently to achieve your particular goal? What reasons could you come up with to create a strong feeling of anticipation that by doing that thing consistently, you will definitely achieve that desired result?
There are the 14 ways to be successful, based on the 14 ways to be unsuccessful. There are many things to think about, and many ideas and questions for you to ponder. If there is any way I can help you answer these questions and help you move closer to your desired result, please reach out and let me know.
To Creating Your Success!