If you want to live a fulfilled life, you need to be able to build strong points of view around topics that matter to your life. It leads to clear thinking and decision making. It also gives you actionable principles that help guide your life.
Naval Ravikant is a great example of someone who is good at this. Everything I listen to, or read by him is impressive. There’s an elegance and simplicity in how he thinks and makes decisions. He’s able to simplify his ideas down to the things that make a difference. They easily translate to actionable principles that he lives his life by.
So, what’s the best way to go about building a point of view around a particular topic?
I think the first step is to jump in with two feet. I appreciate that’s not particularly elegant, but you have to get started somewhere. Start to get a sense of the main types of ideas and approaches around the topic. Read books, listen to podcasts and watch videos. Follow people online and listen to their ideas.
This is where most people get overwhelmed and stuck. Because, for every topic, there’s a lot of different ideas. One way of not getting too stuck is to simply notice that you’re starting to. This becomes a trigger for the next step, which can help you narrow things down – look for smart people.
Why do you need to look for smart people? Because, at some point you need to go from having a shallow understanding of a large number of ideas, to a smaller set of the best ideas. And not just the best ideas – the ones which are right for you. Leveraging the knowledge of others will help narrow things down quickly.
Finding the smartest people around the topic that you’re interested in is the most difficult part. The good news is that we’ve never had more (and free) access to the smartest people and their ideas.
Look for people who aren’t primarily trying to sell you something. You want to find people who have strong points of view, and then their product or service just happens to help you get results. Avoid people who are building a point of view around what they are trying to sell.
Look for people who tend to stick to the basics and explain things in straight forward language. This is a good sign they actually know what they’re talking about.
Lastly, notice people who come highly recommended – preferably from a diverse group of people.
For example, when it comes to health and nutrition, I rely on Dr Rhonda Patrick’s opinion. She ticks all the boxes above. She sticks to the basics and explains things simply. She isn’t shaping what she recommends around products or services she offers. And she’s held in very high regard by her peers, and people outside of her peer group.
The goal is to settle on a handful of the brightest and most knowledgeable people whose point of view you trust. From there, the next step is to try and sort them into a point of view of your own.
If you’ve found the right people, you’ll notice there will be an overlap in their ideas. Their ideas will easily translate into core principles that you can apply to your life. Soon you’ll start to see a strong point of view of your own around the topic.
And just as things seem to click – there’s something that can trip you up. It will appear simpler than you expected. You’ll start to think, it can’t be this simple – I must have missed something?
But, most things ARE that simple. You have to fight against making things more complicated than they need to be. The rest is mostly noise that won’t make much difference. In fact, if it feels too simple, that’s a good sign that you’ve reached a solid point of view.
And then comes the last step. You have to implement these things into your life and try them for yourself. Notice your results and tweak however you need to. If you struggle to see results, you might need to go back to some of the earlier stages outlined above. Look for better people, and different ideas.
So, let’s recap. Jump in with two feet and get a sense of all the ideas around the topic. Don’t fall into the trap of getting overwhelmed. Then, start finding the smartest people in that area and sort out a point of view from their ideas. Implement them in your life and try them for yourself. Optimise from there.
There’s two more aspects of building a point of view I wanted to cover.
The first is that your point of view will become refined over time. This is good. Taking action and continuing to educate yourself will help you develop a more sophisticated point of view. Your goals might even change, which will further shift your point of view.
A good example of this, is my own investing strategy. I used to only invest in passive index funds. Over the last year or so I’ve been listening to people who are taking more risk. I’ve experimented a bit in this space and have decided I want to take on a bit more risk.
So, I’m transitioning to investing 80% in indexes and 20% in a handful of public companies with a long-term view. The foundations of my point of view are still there (I’m still mostly investing in indexes). But, how much risk I’m willing to take has changed and this ended up shifting my point of view and strategy for how I invest.
A quick word of warning about refining your point of view – it’s not just about exploring new ideas. There’s a huge amount of value to revisiting first principles once you understand the complexity of a topic. Regularly go back back to the foundations that your point of view is built around. Attempt to understand them more deeply. Often this can lead to unexpected breakthroughs.
The second aspect is that there’s a way to fast track the majority of the above steps. I hate the work ‘hack’ but this feels as good a use for the word as any. You can outsource the whole process and put your faith in one person and their ideas. Hire them to help you and just do what they say.
I did this recently for my physical training. Over the last few years, I’ve been finding myself increasingly getting injured. I reached the point where I knew something had to change. I had to find the root cause of why I was getting injured and work on it as my number one priority. I knew I didn’t have the knowledge to identify the root cause, or how to fix it. Yet, I wanted to work on fixing it ASAP.
Instead of following the steps above, I started to work with 1-2-1 with a coach. I put my full trust in him. He took the time to understand my goals, my issues and then set out a customised training program for me.
We’re on week four, and things are going great. I’m training four times a week and have had no niggles. In fact, my body feels great for it. What a difference!
You might be wondering, isn’t this against the case I made at the beginning? Didn’t I just skip building a point of view of my own entirely?
Not quite. Instead, I fast tracked the whole process. As I’ve been working with my coach, my point of view has been building. In just four weeks I better understand why I was getting injured and how to address my weaknesses. My view around the best way to train is changing.
Of course, the risk of doing this is that you’re putting your faith and trust in one person. So, take the time to make this decision a good one. Look for people with strong reputations and a proven track-record. Try and find people who come highly recommended by people you trust. Be prepared to pay well for it.
You might be thinking, this whole building a point of view thing is alot of effort! But, I guarantee it’s worth the effort.
It’s worth being good at building a strong point of view of your own around topics that matter to your life. It’s how you become wise and it helps you live a fulfilled life. So, how can you afford not to?
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