From a period to a question mark

​Of the few things I recall from my math lessons in school, it’s this:

​“It’s not enough to know the answer. You gotta understand why that’s the answer.”

​It’s the difference between process and outcome. The answer is the outcome. Alone, it’s not that useful. How you get to the answer is the process. That’s one hundred times more valuable.

A few weeks ago Derek Sivers posted up a list of his directives (Read this for context). Here’s a selection.

From “How to thrive in an unknowable future”:

“3. Own as little as possible.”

“5. Choose the plan with the most options.”

From “How to like people”:

“2. Be who you’d be when alone.”

“8. Find wisdom in your opponents.”

Most of Derek’s points are admirable. But if you’re seeking a deeper understanding of why they are so, here’s an exercise:

Change the period to a question mark.

“Own as little as possible.” becomes “Own as little as possible?”

“Choose the plan with the most options.” becomes “Choose the plan with the most options?”

“Find wisdom in your opponents.” becomes “Find wisdom in your opponents?”

That one small change sets your mind whirring. It throws the validity of the statement into consideration. You see it in a new light. You are forced to uncover the supporting evidence. And if you look close enough, you consider the opposing evidence too.

Try it with any statement. 

Work smarter, not harder?

The key to success is contributing to the success of others?

The less you need, the easier it is to survive?

Your biggest enemy is your own ego?

You don’t need to go through middlemen and gatekeepers anymore?

Changing a period to a question mark helps me think better?