This post endeavours to help you learn more quickly– about any subject.
If you just want to see the list, see below, but before we start, try this thought experiment.
Let’s assume that you would be automatically successful at any project you took part in. You could make a startup into a billion-dollar company, become an Olympic athlete, or achieve enlightenment (assuming such a thing was possible). You aren’t guaranteed to be the best in the world at anything– just to do well.
Now, imagine that it wasn’t just you that could do this– some others would, too– and that you could succeed in each “category” only once. So you could only start one company, for example, or excel at one sport. You and all these other people would be a sort of Highlander-esque group that would go around, doing really great things. (Incidentally, I am writing this post in the Highlander Cafe in Singapore. Hello.) :)
I suspect a sort of competition would emerge, at a very high level, between people such as yourself, for top positions.
So here is the question. What order would you pick for your successes?
In other words, how would you choose what to be successful at first, and how would you prepare?
As it happens, I happen to have considered this for a very long time– and so have many other people– but not for the reasons you’d think.
One result of this thinking is the Hinduism’s ashramas, stages of life which every man must go through. Early stages prepare for later ones.
Another is education of the children of the very rich, where success is assumed, but needs to be optimized.
I personally considered this because I was trying to create the most awesome Dungeons and Dragons characters I could possibly make. Geeky I know– but true.
Wherever you get your reasons, thinking about life this way helps you ask certain questions, like “If physical capacities decrease– and mental abilities increase– with age, then what is the order I should do things in?”
Life is more complex than making D&D characters. People have different priorites and goals, so any system that is in place should be flexible enough to accomodate them. Also, the world itself changes, so your system should be adaptable to a changing technological and social environment.
I know this is maybe a bit convoluted. But here is my theory.
The most important things to have at the beginning of life are education, a wide network, and a bit of money. These three things facilitate all other endeavours– one provides understanding, another provides opportunity, and the third provides freedom to pursue that opportunity.
This implies that the first things life should be about is those 3 things. If you disagree, please say why in the comments, but I think they’re the fundamentals of any really successful life. But what comes next?
This is what I want to ask you.
What did you wish you knew earlier in life, and what do you think you need to know only later?
And finally, what books could teach you to obtain those things?
The result of this post could be nothing– or it could be a very comprehensive list of the best books to read on any subject (like a Personal MBA). So leave a comment with your suggestion, and I’ll add it below with a link to you.
Since I’ve read a lot, I’ll start.
For mental models of reality, I would say Poor Charlie’s Almanac and Seeking Wisdom as well as anything by Nassim Taleb (who is incidentally paleo and a student of Erwan le Corre like myself– expect to see some of that in his new book).
The only book on diet you ever need could be (maybe) Why We Get Fat.
The best book on relationships might be 5 Love Languages.
Now, add yours below. I’ll update with your suggestion and a link to your blog.