Metacognition

How To Think Better

Have you ever heard someone’s perspective on something and said to yourself, “Why couldn’t I have thought of that?”

Well, I do that all the time. So I started collecting questions that could help me stop thinking like me and start thinking like someone else.

A Mental Model is like a hat you can put on that will help you think differently. Not just one will do – many highly successful people have many “hats” that help them think as objectively as possible about situations. Here is a list of articles on Mental Models I find helpful.

Charlie Munger on Mental Models

James Clear on Mental Models

Mental Models: The Best Way to Make Intelligent Decisions (109 Models Explained)

These questions are kind of like mini Mental Models I can pull out in a pinch. I would like to share them with you – I hope you find them helpful.

  • General Perspective
    • From this point, where is my Absolute Reference?
    • What if the opposite?
    • What does “done” look like?
      • What steps need to be taken? What does the overall “done” look like, and what does “done” look like right now, in this step?
      • Can this be done and finished immediately?
    • What are better questions I can ask?
    • What is physically possible?
    • What would this look like if it were easy?
    • How do I know I am right?
    • Where does this lead? Where does this fit? Connect near and far.
    • If I did not own this product/were not involved in this opportunity, how much would i be willing to pay to obtain it, or what would I be willing to do in order to be involved?​
    • What’s something that’s true, that almost nobody agrees with you on?
    • What do I want to accomplish?​
    • Who do I want to be?
      • How does that person think differently than me?
      • How are they feeling?
      • What are they doing differently?
      • What is the next small step?
      • How would the person I want to be take that step?
    • What is working right now?
    • How can I make this fun?​
    • What would this look like if it were fun?
    • Shortcuts
      • Is this shortcut repeatable?
      • Is it non-harmful?
      • What are the downstream effects?
      • Is it additive; does it get better over time?
      • Can it survive the crowd; does it have to be kept a secret?
      • Is it a “long shortcut?” Long shortcuts are the best shortcuts.
  • Decisions
    • Will this matter 10 years from now?
    • What do I want to accomplish?
    • What is the consequence of not doing this at all?
    • Can I use this to glorify God?
    • What might I not know?
    • In what ways could this be wrong?
    • What event would change everything?
    • This goes terribly wrong. What happened?
    • How do I know I am right?
    • Ask, so what? Then, so what? Then, so what?
    • What’s something that’s true, that almost nobody agrees with you on?​
    • Deathbed reflection. Should I do this? Does it need to be done?
    • What is the worst case scenario, and how would I recover?​
    • Would it be irresponsible to turn this down?
    • Do I need this now?
    • Imagine your current choice vanished. What else could you do?​
    • How can I dip a toe in this decision without diving in headfirst?
    • How can I know I am right?​
    • What are the outcomes I want to avoid?
    • Six months from now, what evidence would make me retreat from this decision? What would make me double-down?
    • Do I have an answer to this?
  • Business
    • What needs solved?
    • Use Ed DeBono’s Hats
    • Is anyone else doing x and making money?
    • What do I need to know boiled down to simplest objective?
    • What is hard to make? (security)​
    • Who wants to pay you to do this?
    • Are other people just as clueless about this as I am?​
    • Investing in business/company/idea?
      • How do you know so & so?
      • Why now? Why will this work now?
      • Why this? Why are you doing this?​
      • What are you working on?
      • What’s your unfair advantage?​
    • How can I dip a toe in this decision without diving in headfirst?
    • What are the outcomes I want to avoid?​
    • What is easy for me and hard for others?
    • On Satisfying Customers
      • What could we do to surprise you?
      • What could we do, not to make this better, but to build the product of your dreams? (Don’t ask about the product you’ve already built)​.
      • What design tip could we do that would make you tell everyone about it?
      • What do people want that they dream of that they cannot find anywhere else?​
  • Reacting
    • Can I decide what this means to me? (really, you can’t. God decides that. However, you can reframe it to the positive, always. Romans 8:28)
    • What if I’m wrong?
    • What would be the worst thing about x?
    • In what ways could this be wrong?
    • If this happened a year ago, how would I feel about it today?
    • Does getting upset give me more options?​
  • Problem solving
    • What is the problem I am really trying to solve? What would I get if I solved this problem?
    • What is the biggest problem?
    • What problem can I solve that solves 1000 other problems?
    • What if the opposite?
    • What time is an example of that?
    • What is physically possible?
    • What is the non-obvious thing?
    • Ask, so what? Then, so what? Then, so what?​
    • What do I need to know boiled down to simplest objective?
    • What is the root cause here? (Keep asking why).​
    • What do I want to accomplish?
    • What is the worst case scenario, and how would I recover?​
    • What would this look like if it were easy?
    • Are other people just as clueless about this as I am?​
    • How would a rich person solve this?
    • Imagine your current choice vanished. What else could you do?​
    • If a miracle happened and this was fixed overnight, what would be the first small sign that things were different?
    • What would you tell you best friend to do, if he/she was in the same situation?​
    • If you were replaced tomorrow, what would your successor do about your dilemma?
    • Do I have an answer to this?​
  • Learning
    • How fast can you get feedback, and how fast can you iterate? Can you create a situation where you get feedback, or get feedback faster?
    • Who is world class at this that shouldn’t be world class?
    • Why did I win/succeed?
      • If I lost (be objective) could it be due to my decisions?
      • If I won (be objective) could it be due to luck?
    • What knowledge do I lack to perform this?
    • What do I need to know boiled down to simplest objective?​
    • What knowledge could disprove what I already know? Explore that knowledge to level up.
    • What would this look like if it were easy?​
    • Are other people just as clueless about this as I am?
    • On Learning
      • How long has the skill been around? (Lindy Effect).
      • Will this knowledge increase in value?​
      • Does this solve a problem or help me achieve a goal?
      • Is this a purchase or an investment?​
      • Is this something no one in my network knows?
      • Does this apply to every area of my life? (Universal, Exponential Life Tool).​
      • Does a course already exist on what I am learning/offering?
      • Do people see this as a skill yet? Will they in the future?​
  • Journal Prompts
    • What is most important to me?
    • What are the main time categories in my average week? How much time do I spend in each category?
    • What in my life do I value and why?
    • What things take away the most value? Why?
    • What is one action that could increase positive and decrease negative?
    • Where can I reduce investment in things I over value?
      • Increase what I under value?
    • What do other people in my life value?
    • What gives me the most fulfillment?
    • What are some ways the future could unfold?
      • Which future is the most exciting?
      • Which one is the most terrifying?
      • What are the probabilities?
        • What are the best levers you can use to impact those probabilities?

2 Comments

  1. Cheryl M Kittrell

    Elegant, thoughtful and useful. So much to unpack…will be re-reading in a few days to gather my thoughts and apply the elements that trickle down. Be back later, but, I like the way you think.

    • Oliver

      There is a lot here. I have to re-read this list often in hopes that one of the questions helps me solve a current problem. Hard to keep them all on the top of your mind, all of the time. Hence the list!

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