Going All In
Generally, I’m a proponent of spreading your bets in life. Better to have a few projects on the go that have a small change of success, than 1 project that takes up every waking hour of your day.
To every rule though, there is exceptions.
This week I’ve been musing on the idea of going ‘all in’. Sometimes in life opportunities come a long that are just to good to pass up, and require you to throw your soul into them.
“Opportunities come infrequently. When it rains gold, put out the bucket, not the thimble” — Warren Buffet.
Output can be non-linear. When you go to the supermarket and pass your groceries through the checkout counter you are experiencing linear output. The cashier can only work at a certain pace, and he certainly has no ability, in the confines of his predicament, to use brain to create large amounts of wealth.
When Satoshi Nakamoto coded the blockchain for Bitcoin, this was probably the largest example of non-linear output in history. In just a few months (presumably) of focused coding, Satoshi created, what is now valued at $1 Trillion of wealth.
All potential work in life falls somewhere on this spectrum of linear to exponential returns on your input. You want to avoid the linear like the plague, and seek the non-linear doggedly.
Sometimes in life, rare opportunities present themselves. Opportunities where with a fixed amount of work, you can reap a huge reward. These are the times when you need to go all in. These are the times when you need to look out of the window, see it’s raining gold, kick your thimble into the abyss and lay down your bucket.
A couple of weeks ago I read ‘The Beginning of Infinity’ by David Deutsch. It was a challenging read. The kind of book you mull over weeks after reading.
One of Deutsch’s central arguments was that explanations of how the world works don’t come from experimentation. As someone who previously subscribed to the Nassim Taleb school of ‘skeptical empiricism’ my view theory exists to explain what happens in practice. The engineer, through experimentation discovers how to make a lightbulb, and the scientists then figure out why it shines.
Deutsch proposes the alternative viewpoint, nicely rounded up by Naval,
that good explanation aren’t derived from observing but from creative though, that comes out of nowhere (and is one of the great mysteries of life).
For example, when I’m watching a sunset with my young kids, I ask them: “Is the sun going somewhere? Is it moving? Or is it that maybe we’re moving, and we’re moving in such a way that it looks like the sun is setting?” Which is the proper explanation?
Looking at it naively, you would think the sun is hurtling across the sky and going around the Earth. But that’s not the only explanation. There’s a completely creative explanation that seems to fly in the face of the obvious observation of the sun’s movement but could also fit the facts—but it requires some creativity. That explanation is that the Earth is rotating.
Good explanations don’t have to be obvious. They’re not derived from just looking at what happened in the past. Rather, they are testable. There are experiments we can run to figure out if it’s the sun that is going around the earth or if it’s the Earth turning..