5 Mental Models
Different mental models help us to make sense of the world around us. This post covers 5 Mental Models you can use to gather and apply wisdom.
They can also be used to provide us with tools to gather wisdom and apply it. In this article, we will briefly cover 5 different mental models that can help you not only to become a better learner, but also a better doer. Let’s begin with the 1st mental model.
The first mental model is to think of yourself first and foremost as a lifelong learner.
Lifelong learning is truly one of the most important mental models we can develop because it puts us in the driver’s seat. We are in control because if there’s something we don’t know, we at least know we can go and figure it out.
Lifelong learning is where it’s at. To walk down that path requires a deep-seated humility about what’s knowable and what each of us knows. What’s knowable refers to all those things in the world that others have already figured out, or at least labeled in some way. What each of us knows speaks to our human limitation. Unfortunately, we can never know everything. We are finite beings with a finite mind. We have to face up to this reality while still striving to remain a lifelong learner knowing that our job is never done.
Now, there are times when learning gets tough. We’ve all been stuck on a problem and unsure how to proceed. It can be very frustrating to work on a problem and be unsure how to resolve it or more forward. In these circumstances, you need to use the 2nd Mental model which is paramount to your becoming a better learner.
This mental model is known as the Einstein Model because believe it or not, even geniuses like Einstein got stuck dealing with problems that he couldn’t solve.
Thankfully, he had an approach to help him when he got stuck on a seemingly unsolvable problem.
Albert Einstein put it this way: “I take time to go for long walks on the beach so that I can listen to what is going on inside my head. If my work isn’t going well, I lie down in the middle of a workday and gaze at the ceiling while** I listen and visualize what goes on in my imagination.”
That is such a huge key. Listening to what is going on in your imagination unlocks the door to a world of new discovery that may have been hidden away from you previously. It’s a true secret mental model you need in your arsenal.
The third mental model has everything to do with assumptions. As you learn more and become wiser, you want to make sure you don’t fall guilty to the idea of always being right.
In fact, the smarter you are, the more likely you are to fall into this trap. A very smart guy by all accounts is Elon Musk. He has a mental model for dealing with this.
Tesla’s Elon Musk describes his everyday stance as, “You should take the approach that you’re wrong. Your goal is to be less wrong.” The physicist James Clerk Maxwell described it as a “thoroughly conscious ignorance—the prelude to every real advance in science.”
So remember you should never assume that you’re right. In fact, assume the opposite. Most of the human error comes from the wrong people thinking they’re right.
By approaching the world as if you’re wrong, you will become more humble and be less apt to make mistakes of ego. And besides all that, it’s best to think of human intelligence not as what is going on IN your brain, but as what is going on outside your brain.
Because the reality is, our thinking is really part of a bigger picture. And that brings us to the 4th Mental Model. This model helps to tame the ego even more than the idea of assuming you’re wrong.
This Mental Model is called “The Brain”.
It operates on the assumption that human intelligence isn’t within your brain. It’s actually outside in the civilization around us. Her’s another way to think about it.
Human intelligence is largely externalized, contained not in our brain but in our civilization. We are our tools — our brains are modules in a cognitive system much larger than ourselves. A system that is already self-improving, and has been for a long time.
And none of this matters if you don’t take action on these mental models.
Which brings us to the 5th and final Mental Model. The mental model is the most important one of all because without it you won’t actually follow through on the other 4 Mental Models.
This mental model has to do with discipline and actually getting things done.
You’ve got to rely heavily on self-discipline. This is the mental model that strings all the others together. And it’s massively important to your success. Too many wait around for emotions (read: motivation) before they want to get started or keep acquiring knowledge.
Self-discipline is the ultimate mental model because by using is power wisely, you will unlock all the other mental models to guide you through the rest of your life. It was said best by the late, great, Jim Rohn.
“Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.” ~Jim Rohn
About this post. This post was written "LIVE" on the Building A Second Brain course featuring Tiago Forte and David Perell. There are several notes taken directly from David which he provided as part of the class. Hope you enjoyed it and make sure you check out BASB and Write Of Passage. This entire post was written in less than an hour using random notes pulled from David's Evernote file.