ReModel: Create mental models to improve your life by Joshua Spodek


RATING: 7/10…READ: December 2, 2013

A book about challenging your beliefs. Most helpful tip, beliefs are helpful to the extent they help you. Contrarian advice and interesting mental frameworks.

Get at Amazon



So if we only need to change our beliefs to improve our jobs, careers, and lives, why don’t we? We don’t because believing something means believing something is right, meaning believing something else is wrong. People who aren’t Cathedral Builders believe the Cathedral Builder is wrong. They say things like Look, I’m a realist. Let’s be practical. I really am just cutting stone. That building-a-cathedral guy isn’t really building a cathedral. He’s wrong. He’s just playing a bit role and fooling himself into an unearned fake happiness. That’s what’s really happening. If you stop kidding yourself you’ll realize how miserable your situation is too.

What matters to you is what brings you meaning, what you value, what you consider important, and where you find purpose.

A fundamental belief about beliefs: Beliefs are all flawed; but inevitable.

Beliefs are valuable for how well they help you live your life. I recommend only evaluating them by that measure and never for accuracy or consistency, except in serving that measure.

My model to try new things: I have low standards the first time.

So when I have to pick between two job offers, have to pick one entrée from the menu, can’t figure out which party to go to on a Saturday night, or any difficult choice, I ask myself Do I want to stand in the cold watching others enjoying skiing or do I want to ski myself? Do I want to surf or just bob in the water watching others surf? If I really want to motivate myself, I might suggest the longer I don’t choose I might get frostbite or eaten by a shark. Of course, I can wait to choose later. I just remember the cost of not choosing. Once I’ve chosen, if I learn something that would have changed my decision, I remind myself I didn’t know that when I chose. I still made the best choice I could have at the time. Finally, once I’ve chosen I think The best thing I can do on this slope is to ski it as best I can, enjoy it as much as I can, and enjoy life as much as I can.

The scene is a martial arts class. A few students learning from a great teacher. The students ask the teacher how he never loses his balance. He asks, surprised, “what do you mean?” They say “You’re always on your feet. You never fall. How do you never lose your balance?” He says, “On the contrary, I’m always losing my balance, but I’m always recovering.”

A model to get people to show up on time: Everybody gets fifteen minutes.

Strategy: Always interpret everything for your best outcome.

All stress comes from one source: you want the world to be one way and it’s not.

The world does what it does. How you react causes stress. Someone else can respond without stress to something that causes it in you.

Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.

A model to motivate physical and emotional fitness: Your body is the physical manifestation of your thoughts and beliefs.

If your body appeared energetic, you’ve been thinking energetic thoughts and behaving accordingly. If it appeared withdrawn or weak, you’ve been thinking withdrawn or weak thoughts and behaving accordingly. If your body was covered with fat, you’ve been filling it with fattening things more than you’ve been exercising it off. Maybe you’re covering your body up.

If you want to change your life, figure out what body and face you’d like and make them happen. If you want a happy, friendly face and you don’t have one, use that knowledge to guide you to filling your life with happiness and friendliness.

I believe that for anything important in life, anything someone else can do, I can too. When most people think of difficult achievements, they think of big ones, like conquering nations, building buildings, running companies, running governments, and so on. With rare exception, meaningful achievements come from team efforts. Well, team efforts mean one person didn’t do them. And I can lead a team. So, in principle, I can do those big things too. I may need the right circumstances for something like liberating a country from an occupying nation, which might not happen in my lifetime, but in principle I can still do them.

I believe what you want in winning an NBA championship is the intense emotional reward it brings. That feeling comes from all the effort you put into it, the recognition of your peers, and so on. I believe the MVIP of winning comes from that emotional reward. Would you want to win if you didn’t get any feeling of emotional reward?

A model to free yourself from being categorized: Personality types and traits have little to no scientific or predictive validity.

Take introversion and extroversion. Believing in traits leads you to believe a person behaving introverted implies they will do so consistently. It says “you’re just that way,” discouraging you from doing anything about it. Believing in traits becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

When someone says they’re introverted or whatever psychological trait, they aren’t telling you what they are, they’re telling you what they haven’t learned to do.

If they stopped believing in traits, they’d also be telling you how they could improve their lives—by learning the skills opposite the so-called trait they say they have.

If I can do it in a couple minutes, do it. If it’s worth doing later, store it where I won’t risk forgetting it. If it’s not worth doing, get rid of it. I boiled down the storage part in step 2 to: I keep my inbox to a few items overnight. A to-do list on my computer (a text file). A calendar on my computer.

A model for overcoming guilt and blame: Everyone does the best they can at the time, given their perspective of their environment and capabilities.

I noticed that everyone seemed to do the best they could from their perspective. Your perspective may differ that the person you call lazy, but they choose based on their perspective, not yours; just like you choose from your perspective, not theirs.

Before you call someone lazy or judge them, try to imagine their perspective, beliefs, and abilities and forget yours. That is, respond with curiosity and empathy. When you do, I predict you’ll find yourself understanding their choices. You may not like their beliefs and choices, but you’ll understand them.

How can I blame someone for doing what I would have done in the same situation?

Bottom line: whether someone is evil or not, if you want to influence them, calling them evil won’t achieve your goals as effectively as understanding them and letting them see that you understand them.

A model for integrity: It matters even when no one else can see.

A model for living every moment to its fullest: Every moment counts.

I believe personal freedom only exists within a structure. Without a structure you have aimlessness and randomness, which I distinguish from personal freedom.

A model to make problems go away: Some people look for problems. Others look for solutions. Both get good at what they practice.

Assume everyone you lead and mentor has an angel within they want to unveil to the world if only they feel they don’t need to protect themselves so much. They’ll thank you for helping free them and for how good you make them feel.

Strategy: Pay more attention to things you like.

A model for reducing or overcoming frustration: Everything always works out.

I see leadership and victimhood as two poles on an axis along which I evaluate my behavior. Now, I don’t care how I label things. I care about how I live my life—like if I solve problems or not, or if I fill my life with reward or not. If I live my life by my values and create reward, I don’t care if I’m nearer to one pole or the other. I just find that seeing myself as a victim rarely improves my life, so finding myself that way warns me to examine my situation and look for change.

A model that gives direction in leadership and personal development: Social skills are among the most important skills to develop.

The better you know your emotions the better you know your MVIP.

The more you feel and practice each emotion the more you fill your life with the environments, beliefs, and behaviors that create it and the more it becomes a part of your life.

Strategy: Crowd out what you don’t like by analyzing it When I want to change a thought or emotion, I don’t look to get rid of it, I look to create new thoughts and beliefs and let them crowd out the old ones.

A model to help you stay calm and ward off anxiety: Today is no more stressful than other times.

Strategy: Remember pain helps us survive. Find ways to use it.

A model not to be manipulated by the media: The media wants to keep you reading and watching it.

A model for sustaining habits: If you miss one day you can miss two. If you miss two it’s over.

Beauty alone doesn’t make life rewarding. Everyone gets emotional reward the same way, and it requires effort.

I question how much free drinks and invitations improve one’s life. Sure, they get the pleasure of luxury and maybe some happiness, but getting things through something you were born with and didn’t put your own effort into deprives you of the chance to feel emotional reward for it.

A model to live like beautiful people do: Charisma gets you everything beauty can, and you can develop as much charisma as you want.

A model to help accept things without judgment or feeling sorry for yourself: “Good thing bad thing, who knows?”

A model to argue less and influence more: No two people completely agree on what’s right, wrong, good, or bad and they resist when you try to get them to agree with you.

What made a big difference in this exercise for my behavior was finding I could substitute “I agree” and “I disagree” for “right” and “wrong” and “I like” and “I don’t like” for “good” and “bad.”

A model for traveling: You can learn as much from your next-door neighbor as someone around the world.

The Tao Te Ching passage says that if you think you can learn more from foreigners than from neighbors, you haven’t learned how to stand still yet, meaning you aren’t getting as much out of travel as you could.

A model to think more deeply: You think on the time scale of what distracts you.

One distraction is your mind wandering. If you can’t keep your mind still for more than a few minutes, the most complex ideas you’ll be able to understand will be few-minute ideas.

A model to make difficult people so helpful you’ll want to thank them: Difficult-to-handle people are like the heavy weights in a gym: they help you develop the most.

A model that creates happiness: If I’m enjoying good food with good friends, I’ll end up in a good mood.

Even if they know what they want done, most people don’t know how to organize other to do it. If you motivate and organize them to contribute, they will, and they’ll thank you for it.

Know what you want to achieve. Know that they want to achieve that goal too, even if they never expressed it, which may require some faith. Ask them what about the goal appeals to them. Their answer should start to reveal their emotions. This step is like your foot in the door to their contribution. Have them expand on how that emotion over several conversations. You’ll mainly ask questions and share what about it appeals to you. These conversations will mainly be about MVIP to them. The more you can get them to expand on these emotions, the more they’ll feel and act on them. When you talk about achieving your mutual goals, refer to what creates their MVIP. Let them see you also contribute to them achieving the goal. The more they see you contributing, the more they will feel compelled to contribute.

A model to identify the parts of your life most ripe for improvement: The parts of my life that bring me the most joy today entered my life bringing me the most anxiety.

A model to tolerate when people pre-judge me: People have preconceived notions and if you resemble one, they’ll likely see you that way.

A model to make sense of complexity: Many things operate not on their own but in systems of elements that interact over time for a purpose.

Solving complex problems by assuming they result from single causes will create unintended side-effects.

A model for strategy: Strategy begins with the sustainable competitive advantage.

If you have a sustainable competitive advantage and none of your competitors do, keep it. If you don’t and they do, consider leaving the field. If no one does, focus on efficiency and don’t bother spending on anything else.

The best self-awareness raising exercise I know Carry a notebook or a few sheets of paper for a week or two. A few times each day write your exact thoughts—not general ideas, actual words, like above. Note the following What prompts each instance What emotions relate to it How the instances relate to each other, what categories they fit in.

People don’t come up with great ideas on their own. They evolve from okay ideas and feedback from the market.

Belief 1a: An okay idea and the ability to listen to the market and adapt quickly produces a great idea. I would say the best way to create a great idea is to take a good idea to market. Strategy 1: Develop good ideas, take them to market, and learn to adapt quickly.

A model for a great lifestyle: To be a valued and respected member of my communities and family, enjoy the beauty of nature (including food), keep fit, and learn and improve myself.

A model for what improves life the most: Self-awareness: knowing your emotional processes and emotional state.

Strategy: Improve your emotional intelligence and self-awareness Working out The Model and The Method helped me a lot. If you want to get what this chapter’s belief got me, I recommend learning what I did by clicking the links in those chapters.

I also found meditation helpful to understand how my mind worked. It removes the distractions of daily life.

A model for balancing pushing myself with enjoying life: If my emotional reward stays constant I’m doing alright.

A model for intuition, especially in complicated times: Presence of mind, insight, resolution, and combinations from history.

I feel like many people value originality in solutions. I’ve stopped looking for originality in solving problems. The only measure of a solution’s value is if it solved the problem and how well. I value effectiveness.