This review is split into two sections: a short(ish) overview, and then a long, detailed summary.
The seven skills of the good psychopath:
- No procrastination: gets it done
- Does a really good job
- Be your own person: has bulletproof self confidence
- Lives in the moment/present
- Charming and high levels of social skill
- Unflappable: nothing knocks them.
- Rational: makes decisions with head, not emotions
- You don’t have to feel like doing something to do it.
- Procrastination and hesitation go together and are both really unhelpful.
Getting over procrastination:
- Visualise yourself doing the task
- Think about how good it will feel after it is done
- Do it quickly
Different levels of commitment: basic commitment and true commitment. True commitment is where you eliminate every obstacle in the way (streamline), make drastic behaviour changes and pretty much assure that you can’t fail.
Persuasion is getting the other person to do something they want (but also aligns to your interests)
Don’t look too far into the future or live in the past. You only have control of the day in front of you, the present. Just focus on that.
Savour the moments you can in the present. Time moves quickly!
You can choose your reactions to events. The way that you interpret events is entirely up to you.
Saying no to things is empowering and gives you space to ‘truly commit’ to the goals that matter. It’s also something you have to practice:
- give a reason when you say no
- practice a lot whenever you can
- delay: give yourself time to get it together
Non-psychopaths are sensitive to loss aversion – they don’t want to lose what they have more than they want to gain. Psychopaths are the opposite. Loss aversion makes sense a lot of the time, but will hinder when taking risks.
- Applications: financial – don’t be scared to lose money (but make sure whatever you invest in is well researched)
- 30 day trial period: it hurts to give back a product. Just assume you’re borrowing it!
Body language says a lot about you. We have a checklist for that!
Maximise progress, not time. Stay late on the days you’re doing good work: leave early on the ones you aren’t.
“what would I do if I didn’t take this personally? What would I do if I could choose my reaction to this?”
strong vibe of ‘nothing has meaning, so why give a fuck?’ good and bad. I think some things do have meaning, and that ‘not give a fuck’ behaviour hurts others around you, but you can give no fucks about way more things than you think.
You can only compare against yourself. You are running your own race and comparing to others makes you either feel bad or feel smug. This is different from looking at those better than you and wanting to get to their level.
You are under no pressure to follow the norms of society. You can do whatever you want with your life and convention will only hold you back and limit you.
99% of what we worry about doesn’t happen. And often it’s the worrying that is worse than the actual event itself. Example; you get told you will be kicked in the balls in 30 minutes. Pain is bad but the 30 minutes before it will also be torture. If it just happened, it’d be way better.
Red dot technique- when under pressure (like taking a penalty) focus on something on your hand instead of the ball. Your body already knows what to do.
Longer, detailed notes
Just do it
Procrastination hurts you.
- There’s the time cost – typically things take longer later
- Mental stress – your brain has to track tasks you don’t do and worry about them
- Thought patterns – you get used to not thinking about difficult topics, instead burying them routinely until they all surface in a chaotic mess
- Habit forming – more you procrastinate now, the more you will in the future
- Worse decision making – some decisions need to be made quickly, and if you agonise over them you often end up not making a decision at all
Procrastination isn’t good. There is a difference between
- taking time to weigh pros/cons and second order thinking
- delaying making a decision you don’t want to make
“Hesitation is easy; rarely helpful” - Quirrell in HPMOR
Three types of procrastination and hesitation:
Perfectionist: things must be perfect. This type puts things off in order to avoid not being perfect.
- This type of procrastination could be cured by the 70% rule – when something is 70% of the way there, ship it. Applies to things where breaking them has little to no effect.
Ruminator: Puts things off to avoid making a decision. They can’t make up their minds. They don’t make a decision to absolve themselves of any responsibility. Think bystanders in hpmor during troll attack. Or people who hesitate over red button agonising. Or me staring at a spider I just found.
Avoider: doesn’t want to appear bad in the eyes of others, so doesn’t commit to a decision. Would rather that people think they lack effort rather than ability.
Putting off is different to prioritisation. Some things are less important than others – doing them later is not procrastinating them. Admin tasks can be batched – putting off individual tasks until they can be batched is not procrastination.
“SINCE WHEN DID I NEED TO FEEL LIKE DOING SOMETHING IN ORDER TO DO IT?”
“Tomorrow doesn’t exist in Regiment mentality – it has a funny habit of not coming around. If you’ve got something to do, you do it. If you’ve got something to say, you say it.”
“Everyone knows the phrase; “Better later than never”. In the Regiment, late and never are often the same thing.
3 step procedure to getting over procrastinating something.
- Visualise yourself doing the action. Visualise in as much detail as you can, with as much vivid imagery as possible. Run through each step of the action
- Think about afterwards: how good you will feel after, versus how shitty you will feel by not doing the action, or by putting it to the last minute and doing a crappy job.
- At this point don’t think any more, just do it. Then congratulate yourself afterwards!
- To get over perfectionism make failure a goal. How many failed articles can you write? How many failed speeches can you make?
- The skill of performing under pressure. When it’s all on the line...can you perform?
- To get what you want, first you must know what you want.
- “Streamline” - Eliminate everything that is holding you back from your goal. If the goal was to learn Hindi, you would surround yourself with as much stuff in Hindi as possible. If the goal was to lose fat and gain muscle, you would remove everything with sugar from your life and install an exercise routine. If the goal was to read and apply more books, you would try to remove as much ‘dead time’ as possible so you could reallocate it to your more exciting goal.
The taxi driver analogy can be applied to your own life.
- Knock off early on the days where you’re not doing anything productive. It won’t matter from a work point of view (you’re not doing anything anyway) and it will give you more energy to focus on other things.
- Stay late on the days when you’re on a roll and gunning things out. You want to maximise your profits (deep work) while you can!
Psychopaths have much less loss aversion than the rest of us. Non-psychopaths as a general rule would rather avoid a loss than make a profit, but psychopaths are able to evaluate things much more objectively. This principle can be applied:
Talking to new people is like this. The loss is a ‘loss of face’ and wasted time/energy, and the profit is new friends, new opportunities, enjoyment, fun and fulfilment. The profits outweigh the losses.
- You can pair this with the anti-procrastination chapter above
Financial it is clear – if you have evaluated an opportunity that is risky but that you think has positive expected value – you should just do it. If you make a loss, don’t beat yourself up but rather congratulate yourself on having the balls to take the risk in the first place! Loss aversion is not beneficial.
- It would appear this argues with Buffett’s wisdom to ‘step 1 to be rich: never lose money’. The conflict can be resolved by considering investing vs speculating – if you consider yourself to be investing in a really good opportunity, as opposed to merely speculating, then the advice applies.
Think of selling shares. You would much rather sell a share that has made you a profit rather than one that has made you a loss. Yet the only factor that is important is what you think the share will do; go up, or go down?
Trial periods on products use our hatred of loss aversion. Consider a 30 day trial period. Sending back a product hurts because you feel like you ‘own it’. Companies use this to their advantage.
Application: when you buy something on consideration of a 30 day trial, you are allowed to get a refund and you should consider the principles of loss aversion when you are making your decision.
- A workaround would be to assume when you buy something that the product isn’t actually yours; rather, you are just borrowing it.
Interesting application of loss aversion is in giving out bonuses to employees. If you give them a bonus at the start of the year, and then tell it they have to pay it back (or a portion of it back) depending on their performance thresholds then you trigger the loss aversion. The alternate scenario is how it’s currently done with the bonus at the end of the year. This does not incorporate loss aversion. The two scenarios are the same, but the way they are framed inside our heads: that causes differences, big differences.
We have a real tendency to avoid negative things, even when the expected value is positive.
- Example: Someone asking questions during a workshop/seminar. You are weighing up as negatives; drawing attention to yourself, fear of wasting people’s time, fear of looking stupid, fear of asking something that everyone else already knows. And then there are the positives; chance to steel your resolve, chance to understand something you are confused about, chance to stand out, chance to be brave, chance to ask a question that nobody knows but secretly wants to know, and the chance to build better lifetime habits. The positives outweigh the negatives...but they still don’t raise their hand!
Six steps to success
Know what you want. If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll never get there. A lot of the goals we make for ourselves often aren’t what we really want (see example of guy buying house for feeling of ‘mateship’). Other examples are travel (true motive: to escape work and the job), working out (true motive: feel masculine, see changes in body, take pride in appearance), language learning (true motive: ‘ideal’ of guy who speaks many languages, goal made a while ago to speak 4 languages, seems ‘cool’).
- A lot of ‘doing’ is needed to undo the effects of bad ‘thinking’. This is essentially about decision making – wrong decisions can have huge impact because they take us away from our goal, so we have to backtrack, and they take time and effort.
- Obvious q: what do you want? And also: do you just like the idea of the end product, or can you see yourself putting in the daily work needed, for a long time, to get there? Can you formulate a goal?
Once you know what you want, truly commit to it. The level of commitment we make to our goals has a large impact on their outcome. Different goals need different levels of commitment. Some goals don’t need as much commitment as others, and that’s fine. After all, you can’t go 100% on everything – there must be tradeoffs. But, there are some goals where you should go 100% - where you need true commitment to achieve them. Some examples:
- Standard commitment: doing flashcards, Duolingo, and maybe some lessons.
- True commitment: blocked-out time for sentence generation, italki classes focused entirely on your speaking (and score each class when you’re done with it), reading French books, English-French sentence translation, talking to French people
- Standard commitment: cut back on sugar, cut back on fat, do home cooking
- True commitment: change identity (I don’t eat sugar), update beliefs (sugar is a drug), bring lunch every day, sign up for fruit/veg delivery service
Streamline. Get rid of anything that is counterproductive to your goal. As a swimmer streamlines her body to reduce friction, streamline your life to reduce friction towards your goals.
One useful phrase: “What am I doing right now to <insert goal here>”. Like: what am I doing right now to be the best I can be at gaining muscle? Learning Hindi? Developing bulletproof self confidence and being your own person? Note: this only works on goals that you are truly committed to, not ones you are only ‘standard’ committed with.
Becoming your own person:
- Body language: walk with confident body language, sit with confident body language, eat with confident body language.
- Notice your nervous tics and get rid of them.
- Notice when you speak fast; speak slowly and clearly
- Notice when you speak quietly; speak louder and impose yourself on the situation
- When you feel insecure; fake confidence (until you make it!)
Notice your desires when you ‘admire someone’. Do you want to copy their mindset or their behaviours? You will lose your individuality if you copy behaviours without thinking them through first.
Notice when you don’t want to do something. Are you insecure, scared? Why? Can you push through it? The less procrastination, hesitation; the easier this will be.
Be result-driven. It is easy to use the time you are putting into a goal as a measure for progress. While that has some merit (mainly for ensuring that you are showing up and putting in the work) the ultimate measure of success has to be the results that you show.
It’s clear at work; the hours you work doesn’t matter as long as you get done what you need to get done. This means
- conserving energy on the ‘slow days’ (i.e. you can leave when you’re burned out)
- maximising returns on the ‘good days’ (if you’re on a roll, stay late and gun out your work!)
When learning a language; the measure of success that matters most to me is how well you can speak it and comprehend it. Not the number of flashcards you have done. Not your duolingo tree.
When reading books; the measure of success is how well you can apply the knowledge you gain from books.
Success is about
- being able to connect concepts together and combine them in new ways
- being able to explain concepts from scratch (Feynman technique)
- being able to apply concepts to your life
- being able to create things that utilise the concepts of what you learn
Success is not
- the number of books you read
- the amount of time you spend reading
- the number of books you take notes of (you need to be able to do all of the above! not just take notes)
When being your own person; results are
removing your limiting beliefs.
- What can you do now that you couldn’t do before?
recognising your desires and why you feel them
having zero hesitation to go your own way
Be your own person
Psychopaths find it easier than regular people to:
disobey rules (or assume that they are not applicable)
- which coincidently has strong links to thinking creatively or out of the ordinary. A disdain for rules in one domain looks like it transfers across domains.
Avoid group conformity
- Humans have an inbuilt desire to conform to groups. This made sense from an evolutionary perspective because ostracising someone from the group usually meant death, so we wanted to maintain harmony within the group whenever possible.
- Nowadays this group-approval tendency isn’t so beneficial to us. We find it hard to tread our own routes outside of groups, and we instinctively want the approval of the group for the things we do and the person we are.
A good example of the group-conformity bias is the Asch’s conformity experiment – the one with people looking at the line and having to say which of three other lines it is the same as. We would rather trust strangers over ourselves if they are in a group; we would trust the opinon of others over the evidence in front of our eyes; even when they are blatantly wrong.
- You can use this lesson whenever you are in a group situation and you disagree with the choices being made by the group. At work in team meetings – you can say your opinion (provided it is well thought out!) even if it disagrees with the group – perhaps especially if it disagrees.
Not need the approval of a group; not need the opinions of others to feel validated; to go against the flow; to not give a shit what anyone thinks of them.
Factors leading to blindness in a group. Seen this in companies. Pretty much a breeding ground for confirmation bias.
- Strong charismatic leader
- Strong pressure on results; to ‘get the job done’ (pressure from up high)
- A lot of positive things being said without proof; or things that are hard to justify
- A discouragement of opinions against the group
Saying ‘no’ to requests
- When someone asks you to do something (unless you’re on a tight deadline, I guess) it means that they value what you have to offer. This puts you in a position of power. Therefore, Step 1 is to remember that you have the power. This will help you respond, rather than react.
- Step 2 is to take the person out of the request and just consider the request itself. You don’t need to be guilt tripped into doing it by the person asking.
Step 3 is to give a reason for turning down a request. The reason doesn’t have to be a good reason, but ideally should be a real reason. Bonus points if you can frame it in their self-interest. Examples:
- I’m too tired and wouldn’t be able to give you my full self
- I need to devote all my time and effort into ensuring this
project is done as well and as quickly as it could be
Step 4 is to delay. If you feel pressured into doing something, then retreat rather than commit. You can just say something like:
- I need to check what I have to do this week
- Let me just check my diary / calendar
Step 5 is to keep a record of all the times you should have said no, but you said yes. Write down what you felt at the time, who asked the request and what it was.
- It’s similar to a decision journal, really. In fact, you could incorporate the two together!
Step 6 is practice
Steps to improving confidence (you know what? This isn’t a great resource for this.)
- Be good at what you do (enough to inspire confidence in yourself)
Look the part. This translates into two parts: dress / self presentation, and body language.
- Dress: This book gives the advice to dress slightly up from wherever you are going, which is pretty good advice in general. I do notice that people take you more seriously if you dress better.
Body language: It’s pretty simple to change some behaviours to appear more confident. Here’s the ones outlined.
Avoid putting hands in pockets. Instead, go for the hips – it’s more confident.
Kill your fidgeting. Keep your hands still, don’t play with things. Don’t vibrate your leg.
Look straight ahead when you walk. Don’t look down at your feet. Chin up, eyes forward, walk with purpose.
Pushing your shoulders back a bit sticks out your chest – confident pose.
Don’t avoid eye contact! You can stare at their nose if you like (or the bit between the eyes) but eye contact needs to be there.
Keep palms up when gesturing – or in fact, as often as you can!
Speak slowly and loudly, and play around with putting emphasis into your words. Inflections show power.
Remove nervous tics.
Take it on the chin
- When something happens to us – something that we don’t like – our reaction is under our control, even if we think it isn’t.
- When you get pissed off, offended, fired up, want to retaliate, hold grudges – it often means that you take something personally that you shouldn’t. You feel invaded so you have biological spark to fight back
- Often we get so focused on winning that we harm ourselves. Take the game where participants were offered money in an 80:20 split – the rational thing to do would be to accept the offer (and get money) than get nothing and reject the offer because it seems unfair
We can choose our reactions to things that make us riled up.
Don’t see anyone as the ‘enemy’ or as ‘bastards’. See them as players; you’re both just playing the game. This way you won’t take things personally and you can choose your reaction.
Useful things to ask yourself in the heat of the moment;
- what would I do if I didn’t take this personally?
- What would I do if I could choose how I reacted to this?
Not everyone will like you – and that’s okay! That’s fine! It doesn’t matter if not everyone likes you, and in fact you shouldn’t care if not everyone does. It’s not something you can control, anyway – you have no control over people’s minds.
People are busy. When it may seem like they snubbed you, it often means that they were just busy. That’s fine as well!
Two types of people in the world: rude and not rude. Rude people will often have a problem with you, but really that’s all to do with them and nothing to do with you. It’s all strange stuff in people’s heads that affects the way they react to you - but how you react – why, that’s entirely up to you.
Mentioned as well is the scarcity vs abundance mindset (another useful mental model actually). You do this quite well, but don’t get carried away with a particular thing (job, apartment etc) – keep ideas open and eggs not in one basket.
Internal vs external focus: External focus looks at the environment and outside forces, while internal focus focuses on things that you can control. The external view can be useful sometimes (e.g. you didn’t get the job because they had to fill diversity requirements) when not taking things personally. Focusing on the internal view as a guideline is good (it helps you focus on the things you can control) but you want to keep it specific, not general ( I got rejected because they had a problem with ME vs I got rejected because my presentation wasn’t good enough).
Look at yourself when you’re focused on winning. You are much more likely to take things personally! The number of fights that starts in football and rugby games is evidence of this.
If you want to cut down on being offended or taking things personally, easy way is to not offend people.
Miscommunication is often a key factor in feeling offended. If you both sat down and hashed out your problems, then you wouldn’t take so many things personally
We take ‘sore points’ with us from childhood (e.g. anxiety) and they affect us today as adults. Eliminating them would be a really good return on time investment.
Joining a group that takes things personally (like supporting a soccer team, or political party) increases the chance you’ll take things personally!
A handy trick is to put yourself in the other persons shoes when you’re offended. Would you have done the same thing? Maybe you would have!
Live in the moment
- To live in the moment gives many benefits. Some of the best ones are not worrying about the future and being able to let go of the past.
- One way to live in the moment is to notice something new. This gives you ‘beginners mind’ and restore some of the magic of the moment. You’ll see things with fresh eyes.
Today is the only day that we can control. What happened yesterday or what will happen tomorrow is pointless – we cannot control it
- Of course, we are allowed to plan. Some degree of future thinking is required. Odds are that it is much less than you think.
When we break up big goals into lots of small goals and complete them as if we were on a quest of some sort, we get addicted – can use this in a positive light.
A lot of the benefits come from mindfulness – this is one technique that could be useful to learn.