First Principles: Elon Musk on the Power of Thinking for Yourself - Deepstash
First Principles: Elon Musk on the Power of Thinking for Yourself

First Principles: Elon Musk on the Power of Thinking for Yourself

Curated from: jamesclear.com

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What is first principles thinking

First principles thinking is the act of boiling a process down to the fundamental parts that you know are true and building up from there.

First principles thinking is a fancy way of saying "think like a scientist." Scientists don't assume anything. They start with questions like, What are we absolutely sure is true? What has been proven?

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An example of first principles thinking

Imagine you have three things:

  • A motorboat with a skier behind it
  • A military tank
  • A bicycle

Now, let's break these items down into their constituent parts:

  • Motorboat: motor, the hull of a boat, and a pair of skis.
  • Tank: metal treads, steel armor plates, and a gun.
  • Bicycle: handlebars, wheels, gears, and a seat.

What can you create from these individual parts? One option is to make a snowmobile by combining the handlebars and seat from the bike, the metal treads from the tank, and the motor and skis from the boat.

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Thinking for yourself

Be wary of the ideas you inherit. Old conventions and previous forms are often accepted without question and, once accepted, they set a boundary around creativity.

Continuous improvement tends to occur within the boundary set by the original vision. By comparison, first principles thinking requires you to abandon your allegiance to previous forms and put the function front and center. What are you trying to accomplish? What is the functional outcome you are looking to achieve?

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