How to do things differently than others

Often progress in life unconsciously becomes linear. Once learned a new coding language or algorithm, next aim is to learn another language or more advanced algorithms. But largely using same techniques and tools we can get 2x or x times better. Even most of the times, efforts end up with diminishing returns. Same strategy to master harder challenges does not yield the growth we are expecting.

Extraordinary growth and changes often involves a fundamental ontological or ‘lens’ shift in how we see the world that goes beyond interpretative phenomenology. This fundamental shift starts with being aware the way we experience the world [1].

Self awareness is critical to understand how we experience the world. Detaching from your self is the 1st step of self awareness. What kind of representation you are creating. What shortfalls you have? Being your own harshest critic and refining issues you see 1st and then get to the next level is a never-ending process.

While time undoubtedly changes all of this, time is experienced by different individuals at different rate. If you experience more time, then chances are your circle of awareness is broader than others. Ultimately, your awareness is what determines your beliefs and establishes the boundaries of what you perceive to be possible. This in turn directly impacts the daily decisions and choices you make about what to do with yourself.

To achieve what nobody else have achieved so far, one must do the things that others have not been doing. To pave your own path, no matter how small that will be you must believe you are the best person in world to do so.

Creativity is mysterious, and no one can say exactly how the creative mind functions. Yet, if we can learn musical composition, take advice on creative writing, or be shown how to paint, then we can learn to creatively solve problems in these areas, too [2].

Strategy is an irreversible choice. Tactical decisions are reversible. What is the most important choice that make nothing else matters? Ability to see what is coming across corner is key to make a good strategic choice. Strategy not only shapes the outcomes but also shapes who you become. You tend to gravitate towards your most dominant thoughts.

An algorithm is a set of well-defined instructions to perform a specific task most efficiently. It is for the most part, deterministic, predictable, and not subject to change. It works for all cases and presumably gives a correct answer. An heuristic, on the other hand is an experience-based technique that helps in problem discovery, learning, and solving. It basically helps you come to a “good enough” solution — close enough to the best, optimal, solution. It’s like a set of educated guesses or “rules of thumb”[3].

Great magic or technology shatters our justified true belief knowledge [4]. Brining the computers to everyone (Bill Gates), communalize operating systems (Linus Torvalds), conceptualizing programming(Bjarne Stroustrup), semiconductors (Jack Kilby, Robert Noyce, Gordon Moore), Apple experience (Steve Jobs) are few examples of such fundamental shifts. What they have achieved is not just improvement, but fundamentally reshaped lenses for the rest of us. While focusing on algorithms to become better overlooks the exploration one needs to be creative and innovative.

Not only any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic [4] but also any sufficiently advanced technologist seems like a magician. One of the heuristics for growth is to seek out the magicians and find the magic. “Describing the version of you that seems impossible right now” is the trick that largely bypass the part of brain that dismisses the work of magicians as crazy and starts allowing you to make the necessary shifts required to become the kind of magician you are envisioning [1].

Meeting magicians is the first step to becoming one — when you are attempting to learn implicit knowledge that by definition you don’t understand, it is important to have a bunch of examples in front of you to feed your brain’s pattern-recognition systems. This will start to changing your worldview without ‘you’ explicitly approving or denying every new belief or framework. Magicians or their work often seem to have a subconscious glow, particularly if they use the type of magic that is in the critical path and something we currently seeking. In order to write the new version of this life description, one need to imagine a version of ourself, by definition, he/she cannot understand. If we understood then it wouldn’t be magical [1, 5].

Successful leaders who progress to the top think differently and achieve more than others. Anything extraordinary begins with a thought. Great thinkers are always in demand and sought out for their unique abilities. They know how to solve problems, they know how to unleash possibilities, and they know how to achieve the impossible. The best leaders are usually the best thinkers.

1. Strategic thinking. Strategic thinking is about making a choice for the prepared future. Developing understanding and appreciation of opposing ideas, opinions, arguments or positions. Strategic thinking requires an understanding of the whole picture, looking for ways to optimize and improve the outcomes. Strategic thinking is about being able to see across the corner to recasting and reseting direction, being adaptable and ambitious simultaneously. More you explore alternatives, the easier it becomes to find holistic ideas. Strategic thinking is about understanding the context more broadly, reading widely, seeking mentors and looking for clues of upcoming trends to reinvent your point of view in a unique way. [6]

2. Inquisitive thinking. When you question what everyone is taking for granted, that alone can enable you to make impact on innovation and creativity. When Albert Einstein questioned gravity, he discovered theory of relativity. Inquisitive thinking is about not settling on the first or easiest answer, questioning everything known and unknown. You gain knowledge when you question. You find new connections when you gain knowledge. When you find new connections you make impact. Eric Schmidt, former Google CEO once stated “We run this company on questions, not answers.” [7, 8]

3. Collaborative thinking. The best kind of thinking is the thinking that brings the greatest returns. Collaborative thinking is about inspiring stakeholders to share ideas and embracing change in the pursuit of finding better solutions. As much as we like to think we know it all, when we hear what others are thinking we can expand our own ideas. Dialogue can be promoted through, appreciative questions which reflect upon the others’ qualities, considering possibilities from other’s perspective and uncovering unspoken beliefs and assumptions.

Incorporating thinking routines in your daily schedules to do things differently than others.


[2] Think Like a Programmer: An Introduction to Creative Problem Solving by V. Anton Spraul