model

People go through tremendous personal stress when life doesn’t jive with their mental model (ego)

Thought of the evening: People go through tremendous personal stress (distress!) when the way their life is turning out doesn’t jive with the mental model of who they think they are (i.e., the “little ego”).

As just one example, my father always talked about opening up a hot dog restaurant. “Hot dog joints” were a big thing in northern Illinois, and they still are. He was a social person who ran projects, and I thought that was a great idea for him.

But he had a mental model that he was an engineer, so even after he was laid off from an engineering job he didn’t like, he kept trying to pursue engineering jobs rather than his dream. He never could break through that, “I was trained as an engineer so I’m supposed to be an engineer” mental model. As a result he became angry, and his life didn’t end well as a result.

In my own case, for many years all I wanted was to be a professional baseball player, and it took several injuries and many years before I finally had to accept that it wasn’t going to happen. Sadly, those were lost years in many ways, and all because I couldn’t let go of the old mental model I had of who I thought I was supposed to be. And because I couldn’t let go of the old model, I couldn’t see the new opportunities that were staring me in the face.

But finally I reached a breaking point. Everything literally came to a head and I said, “F*** this. This is not how I want to spend my life.” To this day I remember that moment.

Some time later I would look back and think, “OMG, why did I waste all those years?” But I understand, even when everyone around you can clearly see what needs to happen, when it’s happening to you — when you’re in the middle of it — it’s a big, ugly, emotional mess. Something is trying to crack your cosmic egg, and when anything tries to destroy the little ego you’ve spent all your life building up ... well, it’s insanely stressful. You’ve spent XX years building up this mental model of who you are, and now something is trying to destroy that model. (A model which I should add exists only in your brain.)

All I can say is that in my case I found a new way to live, and indeed, many of the happiest years of my life.

This is a page from my book, “A Survival Guide for New Consultants”

“Excuse me, you’re in the way”

“A man of knowledge lives by acting,
not by thinking about acting.”

Carlos Castaneda

By now you know that I think a lot about attitude, and if there are any major secrets to my success, one of them is that at some point I learned that I was smart enough, and aggressive enough, to know when I was right about something. Once I gained confidence in myself, if I was clearly right about something and someone didn’t agree with me, I didn’t hesitate to say, or at least think, “Excuse me, you’re in my way.”

Port covers

Just a few months out of college, I was assigned to a missile project that had to do with something known as “port covers.” In short, port covers are like little doors on the sides of air-breathing rockets. If you’ve seen a little model rocket, or perhaps a firework that shoots up into the sky, you know that a rocket is basically a tube, like the cardboard tube that’s inside a roll of toilet paper. A normal solid rocket motor like this is filled with solid rocket fuel, which is something like a solid version of gasoline.

Charlie Munger on having and using multiple mental models

“What are the models? Well, the first rule is that you’ve ot to have multiple models — because if you just have one or two that you’re using, the nature of human psychology is such that you’ll torture reality so that it fits your models.”

“You must know the big ideas in the big disciplines, and use them routinely — all of them, not just a few. Most people are trained in one model — economics, for example — and try to solve all problems in one way. You know the old saying: to the man with a hammer, the world looks like a nail. This is a dumb way of handling problems.”

~ from the book, Charlie Munger, The Complete Investor

Show me your flowcharts and conceal your tables ...

“Show me your flowcharts (source code), and conceal your tables (domain model), and I shall continue to be mystified; show me your tables (domain model) and I won’t usually need your flowcharts (source code): they’ll be obvious.”

~ Fred Brooks, “The Mythical Man Month

A terrific Model View Controller (MVC) diagram

Every once in a while when something hits you, you really remember it; it stands out in your mind as an “Aha” moment. One of those moments for me was when I saw a particular “Model/View/Controller” (MVC) diagram, and the light bulb went on. This diagram made the MVC pattern very simple, and I’ve never forgotten it.