The Little Ways The World Works: Some Things I Think

Aviral Vaid

Aviral Vaid

Feb 09, 20245 min read

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The Little Ways The World Works: Some Things I Think

In the grand scheme of things, the world operates in mysterious and fascinating ways. From the growth patterns of fish to the success of tech companies, there are common points that connect various aspects of our lives. Understanding these intricacies can offer valuable insights and help us navigate through the complexities of our personal and professional journeys.

One intriguing phenomenon is the effect of growth rate on longevity. It turns out that fish with slowed-down growth in their early days tend to live 30% longer than average. On the other hand, those with artificial super-charged growth early on die 15% earlier than average. This principle applies not only to fish but also to businesses and industries. When we push beyond the natural growth rate, we may achieve short-term success, but it comes at the cost of long-term quality and even survival.

Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, famously said, "Your margin is my opportunity." This concept aligns with the idea of pushing beyond natural growth limits. The biggest opportunities arise when there is a collision between a talented individual and an industry that is in need of innovation and disruption. Just as inflation sparks heated debates due to different spending habits, the world works in a way that everyone's experiences and perspectives shape their perception of reality. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence and scrutiny, as we should never blindly believe something just because it is widely accepted.

Evolutionary biology teaches us that species evolve to have bigger bodies over time, as there are competitive advantages to being large. However, being big also has its drawbacks and can lead to extinction. This principle extends beyond the natural world and can be applied to careers. Sometimes, individuals with a mix of mediocre skills can find success when the right opportunities arise, while experts in one particular field may struggle to achieve the same level of success.

Another fascinating aspect of how the world works is the natural limit to growth. Every entity, whether it be a living organism or a business, has a capacity for growth that is governed by its ability to absorb certain nutrients. This limit exists in both motion and stillness. Different perspectives arise when two people observe the same event, depending on whether they are in motion or at rest.

The Tocqueville Paradox, a sociological concept, sheds light on the relationship between wealth and happiness. People's expectations often rise faster than their living standards, leading to a decline in overall happiness and satisfaction in a society that becomes exponentially wealthier. This paradox highlights the fact that humans have an incredible ability to adapt to their circumstances, which explains our constant desire for innovation and improvement.

Building on this idea, the phenomenon of "happiness creep" or "lifestyle creep" emerges. We tend to get used to new things and improvements, and our happiness comes from perceiving that we are moving in the right direction. Therefore, it is the differential, rather than absolute levels of happiness or improvement, that truly matter.

Moving on to personal insights, there are several valuable lessons to be learned. Success caused by luck can be blinding, as it often leads individuals to believe that they are naturally talented. However, nothing is more valuable than the ability to succeed without the need to impress others. The unnecessary stress that some people experience when their lives are going well can be attributed to a necessary level of stress that they subconsciously seek. Few traits are as destructive as an insatiable appetite for praise, as it hinders personal growth and blinds us to our own shortcomings.

When it comes to beliefs, most of them are self-validating. Our brains are wired to filter inputs and focus on what we want to believe. Therefore, logical arguments may not always persuade people. Instead, clarity, storytelling, and appealing to self-interest are more effective methods of communication. Knowing when to listen and when to speak is a vital skill, as the most important communication skill is knowing when to shut up.

Luck plays a significant role in our lives, both in success and failure. It is easy to identify bad luck when we fail, but good luck is often ignored when we succeed. We tend to focus on the harm posed by others, such as terrorism and crime, while disregarding the self-inflicted harms of poor diet and lack of exercise. Additionally, schools are proficient at measuring intelligence but often fall short in assessing qualities like passion, endurance, and character, which are crucial for long-term success.

Ultimately, average performance sustained for an above-average period of time leads to extraordinary results. This principle applies not only to investing but also to careers, relationships, and parenting. The majority of what we know is shaped by our experiences and the people we encounter, both of which are largely out of our control.

In conclusion, the world works in intricate and interconnected ways. By understanding the little ways in which various aspects of life operate, we can gain valuable insights and make informed decisions. Here are three actionable pieces of advice to consider:

  • 1. Embrace natural growth: Pushing beyond the natural limits of growth may yield short-term success, but it often comes at the expense of long-term quality and survival. Focus on sustainable growth and avoid artificial shortcuts.
  • 2. Cultivate self-awareness: Recognize the destructive nature of an insatiable appetite for praise and the unnecessary stress that can arise when life is going well. Develop the ability to succeed without the need to impress others and find contentment in your own achievements.
  • 3. Embrace luck and adaptability: Recognize the role of luck in success and failure, and appreciate the good fortune that may have played a part in your achievements. Adaptability and willingness to embrace change are essential for long-term success in a rapidly evolving world.

By incorporating these insights into our lives, we can navigate the complexities of the world and strive for personal and professional growth.

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