100 Truths You Will Learn Too Late by Luca Dellanna
I wasted years of my life, because I did not know its rules.
I did not know the rules of relationships, of careers, of health, of happiness.
Then, through hard work, talking with mentors and trial & error, I uncovered some of them.
Now, I lay these rules out for you. In this book, you will find 100 of the lessons I learnt.
It will still require hard work from your side to internalize them and put into practice, but at least I hope to make this process easier for you, by letting you avoid committing the same mistakes as I did.
What you will learn from this summary:
– Why problems can only be solved at their root and why failing to tackle them wastes your time.
– How to improve faster and learn more in less time.
– Why we need stressors in our a life.
The very important never feels urgent:
Because the very important does not have a deadline, we have the impression that we can delay it for a few days. This is a huge mistake. Delaying something once opens the door to delaying it forever.
When you think about it, the very important never feels urgent. Instead, most things which feel urgent are important for someone else, not for you.
Give them slots in your calendar and be inflexible about them. After all, your schedule is where your real priorities show
Solve the Root cause of your problems:
Acknowledging a problem is the first step towards solving it and regaining mental peace.
Solving a problem without solving its root cause is like taking a step forward and then one back. Many enjoy the dance, but then complain it doesn’t bring them anywhere.
Fact: you will have to face problems all your life. Also a fact: you have some decision power in whether they will be the same over and over.
Side-stepping the root cause of a problem is not a shortcut. It’s a detour. It’s not how we save time. It’s how we lose time.
Remember: feeling stuck in life is a signal that you’re avoiding acknowledging and addressing the root cause of your problems.
By refusing to take shortcuts, you leave yourself with no option but to tackle on the root problem. Great lives are made of tackled problems.
Identity change is hard:
When you invest too much of yourself into a given identity you will consequently lack the incentives to change it.
Authorization to change is mostly an illusion. Most changes that last are bottom-up, initiated without someone else’s consent – in those cases, the consent is usually formalised after the change takes place.
People’s expectations of you aren’t your problem. They are their problem.
Are your friends or parents disappointed you didn’t make the choice they wished you took? It is their problem. By choosing to expect, they chose to be disappointed.
The Importance of Feedback cycles:
The number of useful things you will learn is limited by the amount of feedback you will receive.
To maximise your learning capability, you should aim to get feedback as frequently as possible. The trick to do so is to divide your work into the smallest bits possible. For example, publishing three blog posts is faster than publishing a book and is likely to provide you with more feedback
The advice of maximising feedback loops by reducing the time between each “feedback event” does not apply only to learning, but also to investing, selling, and to many other domains.
If you are an entrepreneur, improve inventory velocity. The faster you get money, the faster you can reinvest it, and the faster it can produce returns (this is a feedback loop too).
If each customer has, say, a 10% chance of recommending you, then each customer can be seen as an investment with a 10% return, in a way. This compounds rapidly.
The willingness to tolerate moments of lower stimulation and excitement is one of the landmark traits of great investors and professionals alike.
Don’t make the same mistake twice:
Similarly, successful individuals are not those who never commit a mistake, but those who, after the mistake, take tangible action to prevent it from occurring ever again.
How you act after the misstep is more important than the misstep itself.
This involves taking action immediately to change your environment and your incentives. Promising that the next time you won’t misstep is not enough. You need to take material action that will ensure that you won’t.
Practice your practice:
Metapractice – the ability to tweak one’s practice to maximise its effectiveness
More importantly, internalise the habit of asking yourself, after each session, “How could the practice have been better?”.
“May I have the honesty to acknowledge what is important for me, the wisdom to know its costs, and the discipline to pay them.”
Think of Goals in Terms of their Costs:
Each goal of yours can be described as a set of costs that have to be paid.
Success follows having paid all the right costs.
Listing the costs that have to be paid for the goal to be achieved has three advantages.
First, it brings clarity. You will know precisely what has to be done. You will be able to avoid working on what is unnecessary.
Second, it brings motivation. Having a to-do list in front of you, which you know that, if completed, will bring you the results you want, will instill newfound energy in you.
Third, in the event that you discover that it would take much more work to reach the success you envisioned than the amount you’re willing to put in, knowing the full list of costs will enable you to say “no thanks” and put your mind at ease.
Make sure you include: The skills you will have to acquire. The work sessions you will have to participate in. The conversations you will have to have. The things you will have to give up.
For example, “learning to write marketing copy” becomes “read one book on marketing a month and write one page every Tuesday evening for six months”.
Most of the costs of the goals you want to achieve can and must be broken down into weekly costs: daily actions, practice sessions, work sprints, and so on.
Then, take your phone and add a reminder, in one week’s time, to review your performance. Did you pay the costs you said you would pay this week?
Action overcomes obstacles:
The good thing about vicious circles is that, because there is no clear attack point, any attack point is as good as it gets. Stop thinking and start acting.
Stop thinking about how to better get unstuck, and act. That’s how people get unstuck.
This brings us to what Luca calls the fundamental principle of learning: Learning is about making connections. We can only learn connections made of pieces of information that we have already learned.
People only see what is made of things they understand. Why is this important? Because People only learn from what they can see.
“You can generate learning by creating situations where you’re not sure about the outcome.” – Modern philosopher Michael Mayer
Many neglect the importance of frequent practice. They believe that practice is something to be performed after they are ready. The truth is, practice is how we become ready.
Reading to improve is like watching someone else workout – it does almost nothing for you. To run better, run. To paint better, paint. To write better, write. To build better, build.
Negative feedback illuminates mental patterns:
When you receive a piece of negative feedback, never perceive it as directed to you (broad); instead, redirect it to a specific mental pattern of yours (specific).
Train your mental patterns. Promote them. Fire them. But do not identify with them.
Focus on the things that don’t change:
The less time-relevant the information, the worthier to read
Principles aren’t just important. They also maintain their relevancy over time
The next time you find yourself consuming the news, ask yourself: will this be relevant in 10 years?
Be specific with what you don’t like:
The trick is to be specific. Never despise people for who they are, but only for specific behaviors that they express.
Do not despise salespeople. Despise salespeople who deceive their clients.
Do not despise rich people. Despise those who get rich by putting others at risk.
It’s not who you are that holds you back; it’s who you think you’re not.
Systems create success:
Then, set yourself a regular schedule on which you will perform the sharing activity. At least once a month. Better, once a week.
“There is no [such list as the] 7 things successful people do before breakfast. Here is the real morning routine of successful people. They get up, and they show up. At some point, they do work that matters. The details are up to you.”
If you have the wisdom to set a system that can deliver the results you want AND the discipline to apply it daily, you will rapidly increase your value and capabilities to the point that you will soon be able to choose who to surround yourself with and what projects to work on.
Systems let you know immediately when they are working and when they are not, allowing you to make the required corrections
Easy choices, hard life. Hard choices, easy life.
Successful people know what they want but not how it will look like.
What are your standards?
Your standards determine what you perceive as problems to be addressed.
Remember: standards aren’t your goals. Standards are the levels below which you take action.
People succeed at their priorities:
People are extremely good at succeeding at their priorities, and extremely dishonest about them
It follows that, if someone is failing at something, chances are it is not a priority of his – regardless of what he believes his priorities are.
What we are successful at is a much better indicator of our priorities than what we think are our desires.
Stressors and our adaptive system:
If we never exercise, we signal to our body that we do not need energy. Our body responds by reducing its production.
Our body is a trigger-based system (aka “adaptive system”). It gives us what we need. If we spend a day in the sun and we “absorb” too many UV rays, it means that we need more protection. Our body triggers tanning.
In the past, humanity starved from a lack of food. In the current times, in first-world countries, humanity is starving from a lack of stressors – signals that our body and mind needs to grow stronger.
The saying goes, “if you spot a change in behavior, look for the change in incentives”.
If someone offers to solve a problem of yours, great! However, if he insists on being part of the solution, do not trust him. He might be trying to help himself more than helping you.
The next time you interact with her, think: is there a way to align your risks and his/hers? For example, can you ask for a written warranty, if he/she is trying to sell you some product or service?
For a large part, the choices we make are shaped by our incentives, and our personalities are the confabulations we make for the choices we made.
Stress and Self-Respect:
Happiness is not a place we can reach and rest in. Happiness is a direction we can walk along. If we progress towards something which increases our self-respect, we are happy. If we don’t, we feel sadness or anxiety.
Stress is not our reaction to any problem. Stress is our reaction to unaddressed problems.
Pick one problem that is causing you stress. Develop a roadmap that will address it. This means a set of tasks that, if completed, will lead to the problem be solved. Attach dates to these tasks.
Have integrity and avoid criticising:
If you act with integrity, being loyal to your principles, you will notice that people will trust you more, not less.
Bestselling author Marshall Goldsmith formulated the 20% rule, which I would summarise as follows: “Unless you have a suggestion that brings at least a 20% improvement, shut up.”
Proxies and why to avoid them:
Very often, we use criteria established by others to make our own choices. For example, we might use our parents’ perception of what a good career is to decide which university course to join.
Unfulfillment arises from using metrics chosen by others as proxies for personal success (e.g., a new car as a proxy for happiness).
Sustainability problems arise from using short-term success as a proxy for long-term one (e.g., boosting sales this quarter by delivering false promises to customers).
In general, regretful choices arise from using widely accepted metrics for success instead of personally defined ones.
The proxy optimization (running an ad optimized to get new followers) diluted the correlation between the proxy and the ultimate metric (the % of followers buying the book).
Proxies are not chosen because they are more impactful; they are chosen because they are easier to measure or to influence.
Proxies promote unwanted behavior by introducing unwanted rewards to wasteful actions.
If a process describes what it is, rather than what it is for, it has been optimized for a proxy.
Doubt everyone whose core competency is a proxy (students whose competency is to pass exams, which are a proxy for knowledge; teachers whose competency is to get papers published,
Choose your actions carefully:
Too many people make decisions based on how their actions will change the world. Too few people make decisions based on how their actions will change themselves.
The lesson to learn is that, in situations where ruin is a possibility, the concept of “expected returns” does not apply. For example, situations in which death, bankruptcy, or life sentence a possibility.
Take responsibility and discover the rules of the game:
In other words, it is one of your tasks to discover what your implicit tasks are. The untold ones.
Second, what got you here won’t get you there. Life is made of stages. What works in one stage often doesn’t work anymore in the next.
The way out of this nightmarish scenario is to realise that, in adulthood, opportunities follow taking responsibility.
Delegate the results, not the methods:
By delegating how the task was to be done, you shifted the focus from its result to the methods used.
You can only delegate either the results or the methods, never both. The more you delegate the methods, the less you can hold your employee or contractor accountable for the results.
If you aren’t doing something sustainably you aren’t actually doing it:
You are on a diet only if you have been sustainably on it for at least a few weeks. If it’s not sustainable, it didn’t happen.
Every time that you are facing a problem that requires sustained action to be taken care of, assume that you’re not on your way to solve it unless you demonstrated the capacity to sustain over time whatever action you decided to undertake.
I learned a new rule: do not think that your problem is different unless you have already applied the solution that works for anyone else for at least 3 months in a row.
Lagging Indicators Vs Leading Indicators:
The former set of criteria (brand & budget) is indicative of how a company did in the past. For this reason, they are called lagging indicators.
The latter set of criteria (team & culture) is indicative of how a company will perform in the future. For this reason, they are called leading indicators. Examples of leading indicators are hours spent in training, investments, connections.
By analyzing lagging indicators, you predict the past. By analyzing leading ones, you predict the future.
Tracking leading indicators is important because it allows you to spot problems before their consequences hit you.
Success is Stochastic:
It is possible that throwing a dice three times you get “1”, “2”, and “1”. This does not mean that the dice is unlucky. Nor does it mean that the next throw will be a “6”, to compensate. It simply means that you cannot judge the dice on a low number of throws. Just like dices, success is stochastic too.
The main reason you want to write plans is to make sure that you know if they are not working.
No. Usually, people change a plan only after they notice that something is wrong with it. Having written down your plan allows you to notice when it’s going off-track.
If the plan is written, then it’s easy to know when things are not going as planned. Perhaps, you’re not taking the actions you scheduled. Maybe, the actions you took are not delivering the results you wished. In both cases, something is wrong with your plan. If you keep it the way it is, it will not bring you the results you need.
The more you’re dependent, the more your time and energy will go towards solving the problems of the person you’re dependent on and improving their life instead of yours.
Rule of thumb: if you cannot pay cash for something, you can’t afford it
Write out your process:
An unwritten process does not improve, because when faced with evidence of a wrong choice, it flexes and adapts in the mind of its owner to temporarily accommodate reality, before rapidly reverting to what it was before.
A written process improves faster than an unwritten one.
Two concepts that I found very useful for effective communication.
1) Something isn’t clear when it can be understood. It’s clear when it can’t be misunderstood.
2) You didn’t communicate something until you feel like you’ve overcommunicated it.