This is an excerpt from my weekly 3 x 3 newsletter. Enter your email below to start receiving a weekly list of 3 new ideas to incorporate into your life, 3 pieces of content to check out and 3 quotes to think about.
In game theory, a zero-sum game refers to any situation where one’s gain is offset by another’s loss. When the total losses and gains are added up they equal zero, hence zero-sum. In sports we have losers and winners, in the stock market we can only overperform when others underperform and in gambling our winnings are somebody else’s losses. A positive-sum game on the other hand represents a win-win situation instead of a win-lose one. Both parties are netting positive from the interaction. In life, we should seek out positive-sum games that benefit everyone involved. Some examples of positive sum-games to pursue include:
- Generosity: Kevin Kelly puts it best: “Perhaps the most counter-intuitive truth of the universe is that the more you give to others, the more you’ll get. Understanding this is the beginning of wisdom.”
- Collaboration: find ways to work with others and become better as a whole than as two parts. The best partners are experts at the things you struggle with. They compliment your skills and together you form a team with emergent properties. Collaborations, when done right, lead to great things for all parties involved.
- Teaching: Studies have shown that teaching is one of the best ways to learn and test your own understanding. Teaching something requires a thorough understanding of your content and applies the generation effect to help us commit knowledge and skills to memory.
Make Time introduced me to the idea of a daily highlight which has helped me focus on my own priorities during the day. A highlight represents an intermediate between a goal (which is too far-off and hard to take action on) and a task (which is too insignificant and fleeting). The idea is to imagine looking back at your day and asking yourself what you accomplished to make it a successful day? What was your highlight? Our highlight should be something that is either urgent, fills us with a sense of accomplishment or brings us joy. For instance, a highlight might be:
- Finish that essay due tomorrow
- Publish a blog post
- Treat yourself
We then make this highlight a focus that we fit into our busy schedule to ensure that each day ends as a success and brings us closer to our goals. Every morning I define a highlight as part of my daily reflection practice which keeps me focussed on my own priorities instead of those that others might impose on me during the day.
If this idea interests you, definitely consider picking up the book Make Time for a whole list of practical tools to decide, stay focussed, stay energised and reflect on your daily highlight.
Start With a Win
On the subject of wins, I’ve come to realise that the best morning routine incorporates a small win into it. This might be exercise, writing, cooking or reading but the idea is to start your day off with something that gives you confidence and a sense of accomplishment that sets you off on a path to more wins. Committing to this idea, I’ve decided that this week I’ll be focussing on waking up early every day and starting off the morning by writing and walking.
3 Favourite Saves
Make Time is a book from two ex-Google product designers discussing how we can draw from tested tools to build a life that prioritises what is important to us. I picked the book up this week and have already started implementing the advice in my own life.
Practical Discipline gives us a few ways to take steps towards changing our behaviour. My favourite piece of advice was to nudge our desired choices with our previous choices: “If you want to buy, say, gym shorts and groceries (as I did a few days ago), do it in that exact order. That way, you’re primed to make healthier choices.”
Practice Failure builds on the words of Amelia Earhart and the way that pilots intentionally stall their planes to practice failure in a controlled environment. Learn by designing intentional failures when the cost of failure isn’t too high. “If we don’t practice failing, we can only safely fly on sunny days.”
3 Quotes to Think About
“We don’t remember days, we remember moments” - Cesare Pavese
“Only experience counts when there is no time to think a process through.” - Amelia Earhart
“Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.” - Francis Chan