Clearing The Fog: Shane Parrish On Clarity In Decision-Making And Transforming Knowledge Into Wisdom

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Often, circumstances think for us, we don’t really have a choice. And anybody who puts themselves in a bad position has no good options available. So much of the work involved in a decision comes before the actual decision is made – Shane Parrish

In this episode, I talk with Shane Parrishwho offers some great advice on how to think more clearly and, let me add, provides insight on how to transform knowledge into wisdom.

Shane is a former cybersecurity expert at Canada’s premier intelligence agency and the genius behind Farnam Street, a site immensely popular among the elite innovator and investor class. The platform gleans insights from a diverse range of thinkers – from Lao Tzu and Emerson to Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger.

Shane is also celebrated for his bestselling three-volume series on mental models titled “The Great Mental Models,” which covers everything from general thinking concepts to physics and mathematics. His latest book is “Clear Thinking: Turning Ordinary Moments Into Extraordinary Results,” and it’s the topic of this podcast.

So much good stuff here. Let me tease a simple phrase from Shane I hadn’t heard prior.

“Outcome over ego.”

That short three-word phrase encapsulates and communicates so much without further explanation – it’s a perfect heuristic. And its application is almost universal: at work with colleagues or a boss, at home with a spouse, etc. The ego often seeks to prove itself right; outcome seeks to find out what is right and fosters a learner perspective, being open to new solutions.

There’s a lot more like this, so listen in as we dig into his work, what he’s learned about thinking more clearly – and in doing so, how to make better decisions.

Discussion highlights include:

  • The origin of Farnham Street and the influence of Berkshire Hathaway
  • Living life on ‘autopilot’
  • Recognizing ‘ego default’ and clouded decision-making.
  • Knowing vs. deep understanding
  • Writing as a tool for clear thinking
  • The importance of pre-decision positioning
  • Explanation of the learning loop
  • Why failure is a “high-quality experience”
  • How to get great feedback/advice from someone
  • Parsimony and expertise
  • Incorporating intuition in decision-making
  • Safety nets: on rules that enhance decision-making
  • His favorite mental models
  • How to think in reverse
  • Separating problem identification from problem-solving
  • The morning review: a method for decision validation


Resources / Links



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