[Y]ou can better understand the future if you focus on the behaviors that never change instead of the events that might.
And those behaviors have a common denominator: They follow the path of least resistance of people trying to simplify a complex world into a few stories that make sense and make them feel good about themselves.
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A seductive belief throughout history is people expecting an idealized world where you demand perfection and assume that having little tolerance for error, variability, and disagreement is an asset.
Markets change, but greed and fear never do.
Industries change, but ambition and complacency don’t.
Laws change, but the tribal instincts of politics don’t.
An illusion that other people’s bad circumstances couldn’t also happen to you.
The problem is that people don't like to think in probabilities; it’s so much easier to think about risk as black or white, it will happen or it won’t.
When you go through life thinking low-probability events are zero-probability events, you’re bound to get stuck in an illusion that what happened to someone else couldn’t also happen to you.
A simple rule that’s obvious but easy to ignore is that nothing worth pursuing is free. How could it be otherwise? Everything has a price, and the price is usually proportionate to the potential rewards.
But the price is rarely on a price tag. You don’t pay it with cash. Most things worth pursuing charge their fee in the form of stress, doubt, uncertainty, dealing with quirky people, bureaucracy, other peoples’ conflicting incentives, hassle, nonsense, and general bullshit . That’s the overhead cost of getting ahead.
No lesson is more persuasive than the one you’ve personally experienced.
You can try to be empathetic and open-minded to other people’s lives, but when you’re trying to figure out how the world works nothing makes more sense than the unique circumstances of what you’ve lived through firsthand.
[E]veryone goes through life a little blind to the lessons that have already been learned by other people.
[T]he idea that you’ve never seen or experienced 99.999% of what’s happened in the world is hard to swallow because it’s intimidating to admit how little you know.
The question, “Why don’t you agree with me?” can have infinite answers.
But usually a better question is, “What have you experienced that I haven’t that would make you believe what you do? And would I think about the world like you do if I experienced what you have?”
An assumption that history is a guide to the future and that things will continue working as they did in the past.
Stationarity is the idea that, statistically, the past can help you predict and plan for the future—that the variations in climate, water flow, temperature, and storm severity have remained and will remain stationary, or constant.
A seductive belief that exists in almost every field is that things will keep operating like they always have. It’s an almost necessary belief in a world where you have to base a prediction off something .
But things that have never happened before happen all the time.
All history is the study of what’s changed, but it’s often used as a guide to the future. The irony is overlooked because the idea that if we gather enough data and read enough books we’ll acquire a map of the future is so seductive – it’s so simple, and makes you feel great.
That will never change.
Long-term thinking is more challenging than most people imagine. It is then also more lucrative than many people think.
The long run consists of a collection of short runs that you have to put up with: recessions, bear markets, meltdowns and surprises. Instead of assuming long-term thinkers don't have to deal with nonsense, the question is how you can endure all the short uphills.
Life is a little easier if you expect a certain chunk of it to go wrong no matter how hard you try.
Smart people screw up. Good people have bad days. Nice people lose their temper.
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