Don’t Shoot Yourself With A Nail Gun

Benefits and Costs of Outsourcing Your Learning
   A few years ago, I kabob’ed three of my fingers together by shooting them with a large nail gun.  I was teaching myself carpentry.
   After the medical costs related to surgery, the cost of my building project was far more than the cost of buying or hiring someone.
   But now I know how to build stuff.  No regrets. Education incurs costs, including time, money, and pain.
   If I had hired someone to teach me, however, I would now have full use of my fingers and I would have saved money. I also would have LEARNED FASTER.
   Hire a sensei. The word sensei comes from 先, before and 生, meaning lived: someone who has been down the path before, so can teach from experience.
   Go ahead and listen to experts, buy books, read blogs.  Learn from others’ mistakes (like mine).

The World Might Not End

A friend from high school was sure to become a raging success. Everyone knew he would become a dominant force in the world.  But he has floundered, barely surviving for his entire adult life.
He was convinced that the world would soon end, so has been stockpiling supplies for 30 years.  He became too focused on downside risk, the negative possibilities. He spent so much effort preparing for the possibility that the world economy would crash, that he was unable to build any sort of career.
D561B1C7-8CC6-480D-9B87-5EFC4A75C86BHe was crushed by upside risk.  He ignored the possibility that new technology might create a new online economy and the possibility that zombies might NOT be real and the possibility that the Federal Reserve might NOT enslave us all.  He focused on those downside risks. He missed all opportunities to prosper.
Downside risks exist. Global warming might swamp beachfronts in 200 years. The Illuminati might be a real force for destroying personal liberties (sounds implausible, but I am open). Bankrupt governments (i.e. almost every developed country)  might act rashly to deflect criticism from voters. A gigantic meteor might hit the earth.
But good stuff might also happen.
My friend can make shoes from leather he has made. He can defend it all from marauders with his arsenal of weapons. But the bank might take his house, self-sufficient farm, even his leather tanning equipment, because he can’t make loan payments.  He failed to prepare for a career and missed so many opportunities.  He ignored upside risk, the risk of positive outcomes so he could not exploit those outcomes.
What are you doing to actively prepare for a POSITIVE future?

Want to Buy a Power Boat?

The cost of owning a power boat is enormous. It can cost as much as a small home, but that only buys you the right to keep dumping more money in. Taxes. Repairs. Cleaning. Fuel to operate your boat. A truck to pull your boat to the water. Fuel for the truck. Storage cost. The time and PITA factor involved with all the maintenance.
For me, not worth it.
I have a suggestion. Become friends with someone who owns a massive boat. Or encourage a family member to financially over-leverage themselves by indulging in a boat purchase. Then invite yourself to enjoy the lake on their boat. The photo below is me piloting my brother-in-law’s boat this week near Park City (Utah).
CD2FF299-7D49-4069-A239-8D7B2260B5ABThis strategy works with building a business, learning a new skill, or creating a new investment portfolio. Use the slack resources of people in your network until you start making progress and can justify full independence.
  • Borrow books
  • Read blogs such as this one
  • Move equipment into unused storage space
  • Ask to use leftover materials/paint/ paper/printing press
Experimenting with a creative project can take a long time. Don’t run out of resources before you begin building momentum.
(Note: no friends or family members were bankrupted in the creation of this blog post.)
What are the costs involved with your planned creative project?  Can you outsource any of those costs through borrowing a resource?
Any recommendations for others?



You might be more successful than you think

People want to be successful, but it is never enough.
We should be happy with winning or accomplishing a goal. But instead, we wonder about “what might have been.”  So, in fact, we often feel worse after winning.
A 1995 study of Olympic medalists showed that bronze winners are happier than silver winners.  The bronze medalist is happy to have received a medal.  The silver medalist, however, is often disappointed at having not received the gold. “What if I had won a gold?  I was so close!”
The study by Victoria Medvec and colleagues Scott Madey and Thomas Gilovich explains that the ”what if” alternative for a bronze medalist would be winning nothing.  But for a silver medalist, the alternative is winning the gold.
If we understand this concept, perhaps we can catch ourselves and avoid this  negative tendency.
Do you engage in this type of thinking?
Could you instead choose positive alternatives for “what if” scenarios?  Can you create a new story when it happens?
Do you have recommendations for others?
The article locator is doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.69.4.603, but a synopsis is available at
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