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Powerful mindset: foundations

Hello,

in my journey, I found out that there are some bricks that are more powerful than others to build a powerful mindset. So here are the 3 basic bricks I'm building my mindset on:

1. Extreme ownership:

  • Basic belief: "Everything that happens to me is my fault/I'm responsible for 100% of my life/etc."
  • Question when something happens to me: "How is this my fault?

2. Growth mindset:

  • Basic belief: "I'm the learner"
  • Question when something happens to me: "What can I learn from this?"

3. Anti-fragile ego

  • Basic belief: ? 
  • Question when something happens to me: "How is that thing the best thing that ever happened to me?

So this is my question: what would you say is the basic belief of an anti-fragile ego?

Hello John,

Very good question.

Let me first share what I think about the "extreme ownership" mindset.

Extreme Ownership VS "Always Doing My Best"

There are powerful benefits in extreme ownership, but I also see a lot of potential dangers with it.

When someone keeps asking "how is this my fault" it's difficult to never feel somewhat diminished by the events, losing self-esteem. If everything is your fault, and life is dotted with failures... Ergo, one must be somewhat faulty, no?

I think it's possible to adopt that mindset and still have high self-esteem, but it's not automatic, and it can be very challenging.

Personally, extreme ownership is not my go-to mindset.
I prefer "I always do my best".

Why do I prefer that?
Consider this:

  1. It maximizes your effectiveness as well as extreme ownership can: once you do your best, you do the exact same things that you would do with extreme ownership
  2. It frees you from guilt: once things go wrong, the question is not "how is this my fault", but "what can I learn from this so that the next time my "best" will be even better"
  3. It betters supports self-love: being guilt-free and looking at oneself for the good you've done, instead of where you failed, better supports self-love. And albeit self-love might seem superfluous to people who seek effectiveness, it's an important building block of power and mental power (many manipulation and manipulative seductions leverage a lack of self-love. Manipulative judge frames also leverage lack of love and self-esteem)
  4. It's more realistic: it's hard for critical thinkers to adopt a mindset that "everything is your fault", because critical thinkers know the world can be a messy place. And they know that, in huge projects or social movements, there are thousands if not millions or billions of other people contributing (think of pollution, global warming, etc.) "Aways doing your best" accepts serendipity, accepts complexity, and accepts that, sometimes, you're one agent among millions. And that's OK.
  5. It focuses on process, instead of results: extreme ownership is result-focused. Doing your best is process focused. And we know that a focus on process is more likely to lead to a growth mindset. Plus, it takes the pressure off.
  6. It supports a happier life: if the stock question is "how is this my fault", the linked thoughts almost automatically become "where did I fail" and, when things are hard to fix "why do I keep failing".
    Doing your best, in my opinion, makes it easier to keep a happier and more cheerful mood. Instead of monitoring the situation looking for where you failed, you are more like "alright, I've done my best, whatever the result, I can be proud of myself".
    From personal experience, I can tell you that I have days of hard work with scant or no success to show for it. But I was still happy and proud of myself.

As a matter of fact, I would probably list "I always do my best" as the basic belief of the antifragile ego.
It's antifragile because you can always do your best, no matter the situation you're in.
Even if you're about to die, you can still think "how can I enjoy this last 10 seconds of my life. Alright, I'm gonna think about the best day of my life, so that I'll die with a smile".

This is a mindset that Ryan Holiday talks about in his book "The Obstacle is The Way", which in turn is based on stoic philosophy and Marcus Aurelius' Meditations.

 

 

Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

There are powerful benefits in extreme ownership, but I also see a lot of potential dangers with it.

When someone keeps asking "how is this my fault" it's difficult to never feel somewhat diminished by the events, losing self-esteem. If everything is your fault, and life is dotted with failures... Ergo, one must be somewhat faulty, no?

I think it's possible to adopt that mindset and still have high self-esteem, but it's not automatic, and it can be very challenging.

Thank you for your answer! I'm happy we resonate on this. Regarding your opinion above, I see what you mean but I don't agree. It's not the "fault" as in "guilty", but as in "responsible". You can change the word if you want. I don't think in the dichotomy of extreme ownership the danger is to have low self-esteem, quite the opposite, but rather to feel emotional pain. But this (possible) emotional pain is the price to pay to be able to have this mindset. On my side, I don't suffer at all from this mindset, quite the opposite.

  1. It maximizes your effectiveness as well as extreme ownership can: I don't think these two mindset are in opposition
  2. It frees you from guilt: as I told you, I don't think there is any guilt to be felt. If there is guilt to be felt, so be it.
  3. It betters supports self-love: extreme ownership supports self-love as it gives you the means to change your life. So, let's say you have low self-esteem, are too harsh on yourself or whatever.
  4. It's more realistic: I think there is a misunderstanding. I agree that extreme ownership is a mindset difficult to understand, that is why there is a whole book about it and Jocko Willink has many videos to clear any misunderstanding. Extreme ownership is about looking back at what part you play in a process and improve what you're doing based on this observation.
  5. It focuses on process, instead of results: I don't understand why extreme ownership would put pressure on you? Once again, I don't think these two mindsets are in opposition, I always do my best anyhow. I don't agree that extreme ownership is about results, why do you think it is the case?
  6. It supports a happier life: how is this my fault means: "what is in my control to change?" instead of saying "who's fault is it?" which is disempowering. What you say imply that failing is bad. I don't think so. I think failing is great. There is no more information than in failure. Failure is information-rich. So I just don't feel bad when I fail, that is the mindset of the learner. Tom Bilyeu explains about the anti-fragile ego that he values himself for "the pursuit". So you both agree, he values himself for having made the effort. I do the same. I don't think all of this is about success or failure, it's about learning. Everything is about learning. "Success" and "failure" are just part of the learning process. I think you are 100% right to be proud of yourself for having done your best. I agree.

 

As a matter of fact, I would probably list "I always do my best" as the basic belief of the antifragile ego.
It's antifragile because you can always do your best, no matter the situation you're in.
Even if you're about to die, you can still think "how can I enjoy this last 10 seconds of my life. Alright, I'm gonna think about the best day of my life, so that I'll die with a smile".

I agree and really like your example.

This is a mindset that Ryan Holiday talks about in his book "The Obstacle is The Way", which in turn is based on stoic philosophy and Marcus Aurelius' Meditations.

I consider myself a stoic, or at least a student of stoicism, I enjoyed very much Ryan Holiday's book. I read daily his "daily stoic" book. Have you heard about it?

I like a lot the "I'm doing my best" mindset and have practiced it as well. However, my new mindset is "Whatever it takes", which I think is an upgrade from "I'm doing my best". This is how it's working for me at least. I only do and believe what moves me towards my goals.

Thank you very much for your elaborate answer! Much to exchange!

I do think there is a dichotomy with extreme ownership and that there are subtleties about it.

Here are a few videos about extreme ownership:

The best argument against extreme ownership

Can you take too much ownership?

If you feel like it has little downsides for you and it's empowering, then, awesome.

For completeness of information, I'd add a couple of situations where "extreme ownership" can be detrimental, or misapplied:

  • The need for control / fear of the unknown: some people naturally adopt an unhealthy version of extreme ownership because they are afraid of the unknown. Their "solution" is to take blame rather than admitting that some things in life are just random. Some OCDs and "women who love too much" (review of that great book coming soon) are such an example
  • Sticking to hopeless situations: when people take too much ownership, they might fail to see that some situations are hopeless, or would require too much work on their side. The "women who love too much" from the above for example take too much responsibility for their partners' failure, and stick around in the belief they can change/fix them (they rarely can)

But these are specific situations of misapplying that mindset.

Otherwise, if you feel confident it's not making you too negative / dark in taking extreme responsibility, it's a super-powerful mindset to adopt, and I might adopt it more often myself in certain areas of life.
As a matter of fact, I have become more and more convinced that one of the crucial differences between high-quality people and all the rest is in taking responsibility in life.
In a way, as you say, it's a more extreme, "souped-up version" of "doing one's best".

Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Thank you for your open-mindedness. I do think that the main downside is taking too much ownership and taking responsibility FROM other people and therefore disempowering them. Another is that taking responsibility for parts where you have none, for instance in how other people feel or think. But these are pitfalls that can be avoided.

If you're interested, I recommend you to check out Jocko's videos where he goes in more details about it. It's a simple concept but not easy.

The final goal of extreme ownership is taking back control of things where you thought you had no control, but you actually have.

Example: you have a conflict with somebody.

  • Usual response: this guy/girl is an asshole, blablabla --> no change of behavior --> no self-improvement
  • Extreme ownership: what did I do for this conflict to happen? --> change of behavior --> possible self-improvement

It's not about feeling almighty or god-like at all. I don't feel like that. I actually feel more humble thanks to extreme ownership. It's basically a tool for self-improvement. Nothing more, nothing less.

Tom Bilyeu has an extreme example that you might know: if an asteroid would fall on his house and kill his wife, it would be his fault. Why? Because he knows that there is a society which is monitoring asteroids and he never gave them money or a word of encouragement. Actually, he's on the board of the X-prize and he refused to give them money. The reason being that he thinks the chance is very low for such an event to happen. So if an asteroid kills his wife it would be his fault.

That's an extreme example that he uses to show the ramifications of this idea, but that's pretty much sums it. Everything you choose to think, do and feel has an influence in your life. The more you realize it, the more you choose to think, do and feel differently and you get different results. Extreme ownership is just the step to realize that it is in your control.

For instance, I don't think it contradicts the buddhist way of "letting go". As you take responsibility for letting go.

Yeah, I've heard that example from Tom a few times, he repeats it often :D.

By the way, I loved to listen to his monologues, but I haven't gone back in a while now since I realized he was focusing mostly on interviews and I like to listen from him more than from the guests.

I remember you got his course, do you also listen to his YB videos?

Quote from John Freeman on July 1, 2020, 10:37 am

The final goal of extreme ownership is taking back control of things where you thought you had no control, but you actually have.

Example: you have a conflict with somebody.

  • Usual response: this guy/girl is an asshole, blablabla --> no change of behavior --> no self-improvement
  • Extreme ownership: what did I do for this conflict to happen? --> change of behavior --> possible self-improvement

That's a GREAT way of putting it.

Yeah, I agree, it might as well be the biggest benefit of "extreme ownership".

As a matter of fact, now that you say it, that's the most crucial aspect.
If you adopt a mindset of "doing your best" without first truly taking ownership of all that you can control, plus believing that you can make a huge difference, then you are missing out.

 

Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

I remember you got his course, do you also listen to his YB videos?

YB = Youtube? It's been a few weeks that I don't watch Impact Theory (current interview: Kevin Bacon). I'm focussing on his mindset cour

As a matter of fact, now that you say it, that's the most crucial aspect.
If you adopt a mindset of "doing your best" without first truly taking ownership of all that you can control, plus believing that you can make a huge difference, then you are missing out.

Exactly, and that is why it is empowering. It is that you are finding that this thing that was a problem in your life, becomes a problem YOU can solve. You start to believe that you can change because you realize that you created the problem in the first place. Or at least, you created part of it.

Here is a powerful mindset that I found in Power University and that I think is very important to share.

"Remember: standing up to assholes is a favor you do to the world." - Lucio Buffalmano
This is for the time when we're thinking: I'm going to let this one slip for this once. No, because we have a responsibility towards ourselves and our self-respect AND towards not letting this person gains more confidence in doing this kind of things to other people. So, if we want to be good people, let's make an effort to also protect other people from these asshole moves by protecting ourselves at the same time.
As Jordan Peterson says: "being harmless is not virtuous".
Quote from John Freeman on July 21, 2020, 11:20 am
No, because we have a responsibility towards ourselves and our self-respect AND towards not letting this person gains more confidence in doing this kind of things to other people. So, if we want to be good people, let's make an effort to also protect other people from these asshole moves by protecting ourselves at the same time.
As Jordan Peterson says: "being harmless is not virtuous".

Absolutely, John, Absolutely.

As a general principle, the more people stand up for themselves and the more people refuse to accept abuse, the better society will be.

 

Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?