The Power of Paying Attention and the Challenges of Measurement

Aviral Vaid

Hatched by Aviral Vaid

Apr 05, 2024

3 min read


The Power of Paying Attention and the Challenges of Measurement


In our quest for success and understanding, we often find ourselves grappling with two key factors: paying attention and measurement. Francis Crick, the renowned scientist who discovered the double helix structure of DNA, once revealed his secret to winning the Nobel Prize: knowing what to ignore. This notion of selective attention is crucial in navigating the sea of information that bombards us on a daily basis. On the other hand, measurement has become central to our decision-making processes, replacing intuition and trust with quantifiable data. However, the challenges of measurement, known as Goodhart's Law, highlight the need for a deeper understanding of its limitations and the importance of embracing intuition. In this article, we will explore the power of paying attention and the complexities of measurement, and provide actionable advice on how to navigate these areas effectively.

The Power of Paying Attention:

Paying attention is not merely about being present in the moment, but also about being selective in what we choose to focus on. Munger, a renowned investor, emphasized the value of extreme objectivity, as demonstrated by Darwin's approach to disconfirming his ideas. When someone we admire disagrees with us on a fundamental level, it is crucial to pay close attention, as this may provide valuable insights that can enrich our understanding. By being willing to explore diverse perspectives and quickly abandoning what does not resonate with us, we can cultivate a more objective and open-minded mindset.

The Challenges of Measurement:

Measurement has become a cornerstone in various aspects of our lives, allowing us to make informed decisions based on quantifiable data. Metrics, or quantitative measures, provide a sense of objectivity and simplicity in complex systems. However, Goodhart's Law reminds us that once a measure becomes a metric, it loses its effectiveness. Metrics can lead to unintended consequences, as people may start optimizing for the metric itself rather than the desired outcome. This phenomenon highlights the importance of understanding the limitations of measurement and embracing the power of intuition in certain domains. Raw intuition, as demonstrated by stories shared by experts like Klein and Kahneman, can often outperform reflective decision-making, particularly in uncharted territories where measurement has not yet been established.

Finding Common Ground:

Despite the apparent differences between paying attention and measurement, there is a common thread that ties them together. Both practices require a willingness to challenge our preconceived notions and embrace new perspectives. Paying attention involves being open to ideas that may contradict our own, while measurement involves questioning our intuitions and seeking objective data. By recognizing the interconnectedness of these practices, we can enhance our ability to make informed decisions and gain a deeper understanding of the world around us.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Embrace selective attention: Be willing to explore a wide range of topics and ideas, but quickly abandon those that do not resonate with you. This will help you develop a more objective and open-minded mindset.
  • 2. Understand the limitations of measurement: While measurement provides valuable insights, it is essential to recognize its limitations. Avoid blindly relying on metrics and consider the unintended consequences they may bring. Embrace intuition in domains where measurement is inadequate or nonexistent.
  • 3. Seek diverse perspectives: Actively engage with people who hold different opinions or beliefs from your own. Pay close attention when someone you admire disagrees with you on a fundamental level, as this may provide valuable insights that challenge your assumptions and broaden your understanding.


The power of paying attention and the challenges of measurement are two fundamental aspects of our quest for knowledge and success. By understanding the value of selective attention and embracing the limitations of measurement, we can navigate the complexities of the modern world more effectively. By being open to new perspectives and seeking a balance between intuition and data-driven decision-making, we can unlock new insights and make informed choices. Remember, the key lies in knowing what to ignore and when to trust our instincts.

Hatch New Ideas with Glasp AI 🐣

Glasp AI allows you to hatch new ideas based on your curated content. Let's curate and create with Glasp AI :)