Notes jotted down in the night

Low conscientiousness + big ambitions = discontentment, pathology, seriousness & a limited and less open living style.

Kill / end ambition and find peace.

You need Dignity

Not Status

Silly Human

You need responsibility

Not ambition

Too much ambition stifles the intrinsic

With the extrinsic

Forget status

It’s too expensive

If you put on a different ‘self concept’

You get a different ‘self’.

(Conversion experience = loss of the belief ‘I am worthless’ etc.)

Imagining that I am of average intellect makes me feel so different.

Ambition fades. There is less potential to be realised.

The pressure is off.

I am free to just be me.

(I will probably read more fiction, less non-fiction. I will probably go fishing more and be less interested in starting a tech startup. I will be less serious, more playful.) 

Do you become a slave to what you worship?

Do you become a slave to your source of self-worth?

Can I pick another, please?

But without status, without ambition to drive me to attain it

Won’t I be out-competed for limited resources?

Won’t my wife’s eye wander up the hierarchy?

The glittering path brings power and admiration.


There are other things.

Gracefulness. Freedom. Genuine attention is available to those who aren’t possessed.

There are intrinsic things the extrinsic things were supposed to deliver all along… At your finger tips.

People recognise them. You won’t lack.


Interpretation: I am concerned that if I switch self-concept away from intellect (or something like that) being my source of self-worth, towards something else, something more gentle, less intense, that this will result in me losing my ability to climb hierarchies and attain admiration from women. I don’t want to be dismissed as unremarkable, I could tolerate it from strangers, but not from my own wife! The reality is that hypergamy is built into women and they can’t overcome it easily, not without some stronger dogma. Life is zero sum, in other words, I want the long straw and all the fruit that comes with it. I have seen this in my life and am confident that those at the top do indeed have it easier, have it better and have more access to the things people want.

But then again, when you are no longer driven to achieve in this way, your attention is freed up, because those that pursue ambition like that are possessed people, blinkered. They continuously trade inherently good things to gratify their ambition. This extra attention you have can be spent on things of intrinsic value, that maybe don’t offer glittering achievements, but justify themselves. These are the things people wish they had spent more time doing when they are dying. These things include that family holiday you were busy for, that funeral you missed, the cooking skills you didn’t have time to develop, the relationship with your wife and kids you didn’t invest enough time in, the simple pleasure of doing fucking nothing for a week, to be able to walk through a forest or travel without the sense that you have some great vision that is being neglected the whole time. Even your dreams are stolen from you when you’re ambitious, your dreams every night will be spent on problems, barriers, challenges, fantasy, I bet ambitious people don’t dream about the world being made of chocolate. There’s no time for simple pleasure. The bitter irony for the ambitious is that the fruits they were chasing are were often available before they’d even begun, it was at their finger tips, but they ran a decades long marathon to get it.

‘Why are you ambitious for an impressive career?’

‘Because then I will feel that I have the security to spend my time helping people and will have the money to travel whenever I want and have more free time to spend with my girlfriend and friends out in nature, like fishing.’

‘Ok, but you can help other people now and will get better at it with practice which you’ll get from starting sooner rather than waiting till you get financial security, so that is at your finger tips and may even be harder to get if you work for it. As for travel, you have free time and money now and can already travel a shit ton without an impressive career. In fact, an impressive career will almost certainly give you less time to travel and less time with your friends and family.’

‘But what about status, I want a sense of self-realisation that comes from an impressive career’.

No, you poor thing, who told you self-realisation comes from an impressive career? Teachers? Don’t you know they have a vested interest in that narrative? Self-realisation can take many forms and express itself in many ways, but in essence is means to live in a way that is true to your nature as much as you can, and to do this in a way that maximises the good you can offer to others as much as you can. That’s self-realisation. That may or may not involve a career, but even if it does, it doesn’t begin with ambition, it begins with nurturing and feeding and investing in things that are rewarding to you AND that are sustainable and offer value to others.

Ambition often pulls you away from self-realisation, because it’s a social-construct, not personal.

To conclude, you should meticulously separate the ambition in you that is selfish and about glory from that which is selfless and about nurturing yourself and others into what they could be. Put your money behind the second kind.

You might end up with an impressive career anyway, but you’ll get there without all the strife and struggle. It will be easy.

If the version of you driven by selfish ambition at 70 went for lunch with the version that focused his efforts of selflessness and developing his true nature rather than trying to carve himself into a lifeless statue, an ideal, he would break down and weep at the tragedy. He would realise he spent nearly everything to get almost nothing.  But don’t worry, this wouldn’t happen, he didn’t have time to meet you anyway… and if he did, he would be so blinkered he wouldn’t have really seen you. On the inside of his glasses is printed a little measure, with set units, he doesn’t realise it’s there, he sees life through the narrow prism of socially-recognizable achievement.

Please tell me, who is the real loser? Please answer – don’t ignore the question. Who is the real loser?

SIDE: I have developed the idea I had in the night here, but haven’t said anything about HOW you actually change self-concept. This is very difficult. I only discovered this exists, bizarely, when using two different methods to calculate IQ on my scores. One methodology says I’m top 2%, the other says average. When I accept the average score, I feel strangely free. All of this came from the analysis as to why that is. I realised ambition is at the core of it. I also saw in the IQ of 100 the potential to be a different person, to see myself differently and thus to become so.

(With all this extra attention you have for those around you, for the things of intrinsic good worth in life, you will find that others do notice you as one of those people with abundance anyway, you will get what the ambitious people were looking for without even trying, it will seem a tragedy)

Where to begin gaining this discipline…

Where can I begin to get this Iron Tongue and Eagle Eye?

Well, a morning meditation, reading and writing routine seems a pretty good way. Something like 50% meditation, 35% reading, 15% writing. I can start with just the meditation and an early start and defend this space I’ve created for ‘perspective’.

As for the iron tongue? How about I just start by noting what I have already committed to, and what I’ve already said…

  • ‘I will take opportunities to learn and grow on this apprenticeship and will do the job I have faithfully been given well’.  (To BBC Studios and James).
  • ‘I will build a muscular physique and eat good food as a way of life. I choose to be strong and healthy’. (To myself! And to some extent to God)
  • ‘I will create to a good standard by Spring 2020’ (12 weeks). (To myself!)
  • ‘I will make a practice of meditating every morning, at least for 10 breathes, so that I can grow and maintain perspective’
  • ‘I will grow my share dealings account to £10k by Oct 12th 2020.’ (To myself and in honour of my father)
  • ‘I will look for a decent house within budget to live in from April/May’. (myself)
  • ‘I will take up a community sport and train for expeditions / competitions’. (myself and others)
  • ‘I will buy a piano and add music to my evenings’. (myself)
  • ‘I will develop my cooking skills, so that I can delight myself and others in day to day life’. (myself, my friends, my partner)

What else do I feel is my responsibility?

  • To be aware of the wants and needs of those close to me, like the grans, cousins, brother, parents etc and to make time for them. (annual life stakeholder analysis?)
  • To create my own path/career. I have made it very clear that I do not want to have to work for an organisation in the medium to longer term (3-10 years max) as I tend to prefer more control and to have creative freedom. SO, it’s important I begin investing financially and developing skills and side-projects that can help me transition smoothly and entertain alternative options into the future. I will feel betrayed by myself if I don’t take the necessary steps to become as independent as I can be.
  • I have also made it clear that I love nature and think it’s an irreplaceable part of lifestyle, so if I don’t pack it into my weeks and years, I will also feel neglected.
  • I have some ideas that I’d like to travel and learn Spanish. I won’t feel neglected, but will feel disappointed if I don’t make this happen.
  • I feel that I have entrepreneurial potential and creative ability that could help me create a lot of social value, but feel that money and risk-aversion may prevent me initiating such an enterprise. It’s important to me that I assess the value of career moves and future projects heavily in relation to their social impact as well as other factors.
  • I have a responsibility to continue exploring Christianity in a manageable way and to keep hold of my values and not be tempted away from the pursuit of goodness for glitter and hard-on’s instead.

LKNA13: How to measure anything – intro from Douglas Hubbard

What’s the most important project in the business? How to know what project is the most important project IS the most important project. (making decisions based on priorities)

Decision making techniques have been studied extensively, so we know some things about how to get this most important project right.

In my book how to measure anything I explain why the three reasons people claim something is immeasurable are actually illusions.

How do you evaluate decision making methods – how do you do meta-decision making?

If you let people use a structured, formal method for making decisions, they feel better about their decisions, even if they are worse.

If you use more info, or you collaborate with others beyond a certain amount, or you spend too much time looking at your investments, you do worse, not better. Confidence goes up, but info advantage levels off. (and poss complexity conceals more than reveals)

Experts vs Quantitative Methods (math’s wins)

Paul Meehl compared 150 historical statistical models with human expert intuition. There were barely 6 where humans were better. Math’s is better than intuition. Philip Tetlock tracked over 82k political forecasts from 284 experts and found no domain in which humans clearly outperformed crude extrapolation algorithms, less still sophisticated statistical one’s.

The Monte Carlo model method for estimating cost (link to uncertainty) has proved superior to human judgement.

Reasons people don’t use quantitative methods:

  • ‘we don’t have sufficient data’
  • ‘each situation is so unique and complex that we can’t rely on historical data’ (experience is only historical data with flawed recall)
  • There is too much error and bias in the data
  • There are so many factors, the measurement alone tells us nothing


‘we are better off relying on your experience instead’.

This is a mathematical claim. You are saying ‘the cost of using the data doesn’t justify the results we’d get from using it’. This can be calculated and proven wrong.

Our Ability as Estimators and Decision Makers

  • Overconfidence (people tend to think they’re more likely to be right than their past decisions suggest), inconsistency from moment to moment due to different emotions and attitudes to risk, decision fatigue etc – people say different things depending on arbitrary external factors – even experts! We’re bad at complexity (identifying the relevant info and ignoring irrelevant) and at probability (90% confidence is actually 65% chance of being right)

People can be trained to put odds on things well. Bookies can do it well, physicians badly. Most people do it badly, including Harvard MBA’s.

Experience is inevitable, learning is not.

Having skin in the game is a factor, but even imagining you have skin in the game helps.

Practice helps – lots of iterations, fast feedback helps.

Creating a computer that predicts the answers you give to problems – the comp is better than you. How? It isn’t effected by tiredness etc, it’s a reflection of you at your best, but you aren’t always at your best. It wins because it’s consistent.

Interpreting Limited Data & Probabilities 

A sample of 5 people out of 10,000 is accurate enough to work out roughly with 92.5% accuracy – limited data can be pretty useful.

Intuitions fails with some math’s stuff.

Now I’ve picked on the non-quants. I’ll pick on the quants for a bit. I studied quants using Monte Carlo simulation, I found they were systematically overconfident. None of the 35 compared their predictions with the actual outcomes. Does anybody build a model, then say ‘I’m uncertain about this variable or that one’ and then create a control model to figure it out? People don’t and they should.


Experts and some popular quant methods underestimate catastrophic risk. People think catastrophic risk is less common when there hasn’t been one in a while. They really, really underestimate big risks.

Making the best decisions: 

‘How do I measure ABC?’ 

ALWAYS begin by asking ‘why? what decision are you hoping this data to serve you in making?’ 

It’s a decision modelling problem. Then you need to establish your current uncertainty, if you’re using subjective factors that are based on decent measures then this is good. 

Then you work out how much value would be added by knowing that data. The value of a measure might be high, or the cost of figuring it out might not justify trying. 

The more uncertainty you have, the bigger the uncertainty reduction you get by a small amount of data. The highest pay off from measuring tends to be from a small amount of data. 

Everybody is systematically measuring the wrong stuff. They measure costs more than benefits, even when benefits are less certain than costs. They ignore the highest value stuff. 

The two biggest measures in IT were ‘adoption rates’ and ‘cancellation rates’. These don’t get measured as much as costs stuff or whatever.

Question: He’s givnig examples of what his clients wanted to measure vs what they should actually measure. It seems to me this isn’t about ‘how to measure anything’ it’s about ‘how to know what to measure’. Is that correct? If so, how do you do that? What’s that got to do with how you measure it?

Given that one of the things leading to inconsistency in human judgement is changing levels of risk aversion, you should work out mathematically investor risk aversion level (how much risk they perceive as being acceptable relative to return)

SIDENOTE:  I’d like to figure out my own risk aversion in relation to stock market investing, starting a business, mortgages and spending money on leisure. ‘Scared money never wins’ so those than invest beyond their comfort level or means are in trouble as well as those that under-invest and miss out on reward. Where’s the balance for my temperament? 

He’s created an AIE model for people to use. Every assumption or decision making criteria should be tested.

SIDE NOTE: This is similar to how Ray Dalio says he makes decisions in his book principles. Except Douglas Hubbard is relying mostly on data, whereas Dalio is talking more about other people’s opinions, which they must articulate and defend using reason. 

Application of these ideas to my current work

State simply the key idea(s) in a few sentences’:

Human intuition is inferior to math’s done properly, therefore data should be relied on for reducing uncertainty in decision making. Even a small amount of data is powerful when uncertainty is high. 

Begin by asking what decisions you’re expecting the measure to help you with, then tailor it to that. 

Most people measure the wrong things. You should measure to reduce uncertainty and take advantage of big opportunities. Costs are actually quite predictable, so why do so many companies spend more time measuring them than benefits? 

‘Apply this idea to an aspect of your life of your choosing’:

Watched this vid as part of work. Trying to measure the value added by my department.

Ok, so ‘what decision are you expecting the measure to help you with?’

(went away to do a mind map)


  1. Which of our projects and forms of support are the highest value
  2. ‘Value’ as according to perception of seniors, perceptions of customers and empirical evidence of actual impact.

Therefore, what we are trying to do is identify the ‘sweet spot’ where what we are doing is satisfying management, good for our reputation with customers and crucially, objectively having a large impact.

The way to figure this out is to investigate the following:

  1. Perceptions of management as to what value we offer and what would make them satisfied
  2. Perceptions of customers (what kind of value do they associate us with, what kind of value would they appreciate the most).
  3. Objective comparison of the relative impact of our activities and projects, so that we know what kinds of things add the most value. (applying LEAN to ourselves). This means applying 80/20 rule perhaps to identify the things we do that are more effective.

‘Apply this idea to your current goals and longer term goals. To what extent does it apply, and what’s the significance of it’s application?’



Lifestyle Design Blue Print

From what I gather the ‘ideal’, from a combination of my practical and fantasy-based thinking about lifestyle, is something like this:

  • Approx 3 hours disciplined creative work (probably writing, editing or creative planning) early every morning, as a ritual.
  • Spending time with friends and socializing (at least once a week, for a proper social. This is how I refresh, so I can keep doing the 3 hours in the morning and stay energized)
  • Afternoons spent out and about, being around and engaging with people in a directed, ‘loosely work-based’ way. The most realistic way to achieve this as a solo entrepreneur is to take up a big commitment, like a heavy Jui Jitsu training schedule. This is necessary for sanity.
  • Time spent immersed in nature and making music as part of ordinary life (gardening, foraging, fishing, hunting, playing piano) and keeping my body healthy as possible, pushing my limits physically.
  • Going to new places a lot, and going on trips, often to beautiful places, including proper travel about 2-3 times per year. However, this doesn’t need to be ‘holiday’, it can be work-related.
  • Business is content-related and is an iterated game, meaning that I own what I create and continuously improve it, rather than sell my time for money.
  • Probably am involved in some specific community related to the area my business is in, and also spend time with people from that community fairly frequently. (have them over for dinner, kind of thing).
  • Have multiple continuous income streams, or am growing more income streams.
  • Am doing work which I believe adds REAL value in an area I genuinely care about. I want my suffering to only fuel me to push harder, and that’s only possible if what you’re doing feels truly and unquestionably worthwhile to you. I should be pushing myself – not just maintaining a nice lifestlye – to have a bigger impact through my work, but this work should also be compatible most of the time with a lifestyle that ‘works’ for me – is productive and allows for well being.


This is obviously just a blue print, it’s cold, structural, not something that’s being lived, but I think in terms of time management (how I spend my time) this is the ideal to aim at.

Which bits seem most difficult or unconventional?

These things are all very possible, assuming you manage to fund this lifestyle working only 3 hours intensely each day from – let’s face it – writing. This is the bit which seems possible to me, but would seem mad to others.

So, why do I think this isn’t mad?

Because it’s not ‘just writing’, it’s about selling things on the internet and using content as your main ‘edge’. Not the same thing, this is a very capitalist enterprise. Also, it doesn’t have to be something that is instantly profitable. I can grow e-commerce work on the side, and also work full time and invest in stocks and property, and then I can live rent free on very little money while still having a nice lifestyle because I’m a 21 year old that doesn’t care for material things with no kids.

Then the critics would say, ‘this might work while you’re young, but what about wants you’ve had kids, then you’ll need more money, and can you really make that by creating content for the internet?’

To that I say, the work I do in my 20’s can keep going as I age, because I’m creating things I own, so my work has high potential to compound (e.g. once I make 10k, I don’t stop making £10k when I start a new project, the other project is still making me money). Also, I am frugal and invest heavily, so I will have other income sources to keep me safe from being properly poor.

But most of all, if I can’t make money through the internet by selling and creating content, I don’t think I can make money anywhere, because this is where my STRENGTHS line up with tremendous MARKET OPPORTUNITIES. If this doesn’t work, what more can I do? Please suggest a lower risk option…