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Inversion: The Crucial Thinking Skill Nobody Ever Taught You

https://jamesclear.com/inversion#

jamesclear.com

Inversion: The Crucial Thinking Skill Nobody Ever Taught You
The ancient Stoic philosophers like Marcus Aurelius, Seneca, and Epictetus regularly conducted an exercise known as a premeditatio malorum, which translates to a "premeditation of evils." 1 The goal of this exercise was to envision the negative things that could happen in life.

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Inversion

Inversion

Is the way of thinking in which you consider the opposite of what you want.

Inversion puts a spotlight on errors and roadblocks that are not obvious at first glance. What if the opposite was true? What if I focused on a different side of this situation? Instead of asking how to do something, ask how to not do it.

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The "kill the company" strategy

The "kill the company" strategy

The idea is to identify challenges and points of failure so you can develop a plan to prevent them ahead of time.

Imagine the most important goal or project you are working on right now. Then fast forward 6 months and assume the project or goal has failed. Tell the story of how it happened and ask yourself, “What could cause this to go horribly wrong?”

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Inversion and productivity

Inversion and productivity

Applying inversion to productivity you could ask, “What if I wanted to decrease my focus? How do I end up distracted?” 

The answer to these question may help you discover interruptions you can eliminate to free up more time and energy each day.

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Inversion and decluttering

Inversion and decluttering

Marie Kondo uses inversion to help people declutter their homes, by asking them to choose what they want to keep, not what they want to get rid of.

This shift in mindset inverts decluttering by focusing on what you want to keep rather than what you want to discard.

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Inversion

It is a mental model, a way of thinking backward about what you don’t want to happen. It is about taking an idea upside down and thinking about what could go wrong.

Avoiding failure

Avoiding mistakes is an under-appreciated way to improve.

In most jobs, you can enjoy some degree of success simply by being proactive and reliable—even if you are not particularly smart, fast, or talented in a given area. Sometimes it is more important to consider why people fail in life than why they succeed.

Project Management

Failure Premortem/ Kill the company: one of the applications of inversion, in which you imagine the most important goal or project you are working on right now, then fast forward six months and assume the project or goal has failed.

Tell the story of how it happened. What went wrong? What mistakes did you make? How did it fail? 

4 more ideas

Stoic Philosophy

Stoicism acknowledges the challenges we face and teaches us practical lessons so that we may overcome whatever stands in our way. By taking a practical approach to happiness, we learn how to mainta...

Epictetus

Epictetus

Don’t seek for everything to happen as you wish it would, but rather wish that everything happens as it actually will—then your life will flow well.

Suffering and Desire

Buddha taught that there is suffering in this world, it is inevitable, and the root cause of suffering is mainly the desires we feel.

We want something, always, and feel miserable when we don't get it.

Stoicism teaches us to live in accordance with nature and to accept that suffering will manifest in different ways in our lives.

Know How To Perceive Negative Emotions

Know How To Perceive Negative Emotions

Severe chronic worriers are less accepting of their emotions, meaning they're intolerant of uncertainty and negative emotions.

Meanwhile, non-worriers tend to look a...

Ask The Right Questions.

Worriers can decrease anxiety by asking themselves the following:
  • Is it my problem?
  • Do I have any control over it?
  • Have I already done everything about it that I can? And is it imminent?

See Positive Outcomes

A worrier would likely only think of the worst-case scenario, while a non-worrier would have the capacity to think that there could be a positive outcome to a negative event.