two ways to reframe an idea

In creativity, inspiration, learning by Jay Clouse

Like a lot of people, I had a phase of being really into The 4 Hour Workweek. I started following and subscribing to a lot of the ideas of Tim Ferriss, listening to his podcast, etc.

I’ve pulled back a lot over the last year, mostly because I find that I am probably overly analytical already, and I thought Tim Ferriss was sort of a totally data-driven robot.

Tim has a new book out (which I just added to my own Christmas wish list) called Tribe of Mentors and so he’s on the interview circuit. As he hosts his own podcast and mostly plays the role of interviewer, it was fun to actually hear some of his perspective.

And I was pleasantly surprised when I tuned in to an interview he did with Kevin Rose in which he addressed how he’s grown and changed his priorities over the past few years, mostly due to becoming too much of an analytical robot.

In the interview, he mentions two mental frameworks that he uses in his approach to opportunities, and I really like both of them.

1. What would this look like if it was easy?

When looking at a problem or opportunity, it’s natural to start creating a plan. And often, we start constructing an intricate, complicated, multi-step plan for the ideal solution or implementation.

You can reframe the problem and your solution by asking, “What would this look like if it was easy?”

For example, what if you had to implement the solution in a much tighter timeframe than you initially assumed? What would make this an easy way to get across the finish line?

All ideas are valid, but the 80/20 principle will apply here: probably only about 20% of your ideas are going to be worth implementing. If you were thinking, “How could starting this business be easy?” you may list ideas such as “pay someone else to do all the work” and “white label this third party software.” Both are valid, but you will probably find that some of them are a little far-fetched.

2. How excited am I about this on a scale of 1-10 (ignoring 7)?

I’ve written before about using my excitement level for decision making, but this is an even better system that proceeds the binary yes/no decision.

If you estimate your excitement for something on a scale of 1-10 but you remove the number 7 as an option, you really see if something is piquing your excitement enough to pursue. For me, a 6/10 isn’t strong enough to pursue, but an 8/10 would be.

As Tim puts it, “7” is often a safe, easy answer that is sort of a cop out.

I’m a big fan of thinking through problems in new lenses, and I like both of these quite a bit. I’m excited to see what comes out of employing both of these.


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