Wisdom

First Principle –The One Percent Rule

Breaking things down to their fundamental constituents and transforming them into something resourceful is what’s called the first principle.

But why bother whittling things down into their constituent parts? What benefit do we reap from engaging in this sort of activity? Will I be able to salvage anything of value from from it? Is it the right thing to do, or is it a complete waste of time?

Should I dismantle my car and try reverse engineering it? Would that be a good idea?

Here’s a flashy poster to divert your attention away.

Should I Dismantle My Car?

You can do whatever you want to with your car, since after all, it is your car. What you can’t do, however, is put it all back and expect it to run the way it used to.

Why?

Because not everyone is as smart as Elon Musk, nor are they wealthy enough to hire someone smart enough to piece everything back together and make it work like it used to. At best, you can place your contraption in one of those modern art museums and bank on it.

If this piece was auctioned at 43.8mil, then you have a pretty good chance as well.

Speaking of Elon Musk

Elon Musk wanted to fly the first rocket to Mars, but the price to purchase one was around 65 million dollars. He didn’t have that kind of money at the time, so he decided to study what went into making a rocket. The materials used were aerospace grade aluminium, titanium, copper, some carbon fiber and not to mention, a massive amount of rocket science. He looked into its computed cost and discovered it was two percent of the amount he had to invest were he to purchase a rocket that was already present on the market, so he set about to create one on his own,

and that’s how he started SpaceX.

With SpaceX, Elon Musk started selling rockets at a price ten times less than the amount that was quoted to him. He reached that height because he wasn’t afraid to try something that could potentially jeopardize his finances.

But don’t confuse his achievement with the idea of simply trying until you succeed. While his persistence did play a role, he achieved what he did by digging into its fundamental and attaining a firm grasp of the basics. Making changes after the entire structure is built is not as difficult a challenge as compared to building the basic model up from scratch.  

It is a challenge nonetheless, and I’d bet, an even greater challenge to believe you can pull of something of that magnitude and complexity.   

That, and he is one of the smartest men alive.

The Rule is Pretty Straightforward

The one percent rule tells us that in order to succeed, you don’t have to be ten or hundred times better than your competitors. You just have to be a little better than them. That accumulative advantage will push you past them and let you shine.

It carries momentum that will snowball into something huge in the future. By consistently getting better, you are essentially turning it into a habit. Each day spent on improvement raises the momentum associated with the practice you engage in, hence transforming it into a self-sustaining habit that thrusts you forward.

This habit will get most of the work done for you, as long as you keep your end of the bargain and show up each day to the grind.

Deliberate Practice vs Mindless Practice

To reach new heights, you have to break the process you are accustomed to and craft another one from the debris leftover, through trial and error. This allows you to discover your weaknesses and rectify them, or at the very least, find a way to cope with them.

But there’s always the chance of falling back into the mindless chase of reaching the finish line as soon as possible, paying little to no attention to the specifics of the process involved. You will end up repeating the same mistakes again, thinking you’re getting better when in fact you are getting better at making those exact same mistakes.

It’s a waste of time, which is why focus is so important – it allows you to spot those leakages and repair them as soon as possible. You don’t want to flounder about hopelessly, and sink into redundancy. All your efforts will be in vain, and you will fool yourself into thinking that you are investing into something of value when you aren’t.

Practice alone isn’t enough. Practice with focus is what leads to improvement. You need both components to ensure the desired outcome get delivered to you.

Here’s My Experience  

My handwriting was horrible.

My handwriting is still horrible, but my other handwriting is pretty good.

I usually write with my left hand, but I’ve started writing with my right hand as well. I haven’t been as consistent as I should be, which is why the results – which are fairly decent, lack the luster it could have attained had I practiced daily.

I didn’t start my handwriting practice with the intent of transforming it into a habit. I wanted to improve my handwriting as soon as humanly possible. At the time, all I wanted was results. It’s only now that I’ve realized that improvement of any sort is a lifelong practice that is sustained by cultivating a habit out of it.

Instead of trying to meet a given word count, I’d drill my focus down to every word I wrote; paying attention to every curve and line while maintaining its uniformity on paper. It’s when I practiced in this manner that it dawned on me how weak my focus was. I struggled to concentrate, and often felt irritated whenever I sat down to work on my handwriting.

I didn’t just write to improve my handwriting, but to also bring some order to my thoughts.

With every word I penned, the weaknesses that laid hidden under the shadow of my ignorance was forced out of the dark, since unlike before, I was actually paying attention. This only served to demotivate me, because there were so many weaknesses and I couldn’t handle them head on. I didn’t want to admit to those weaknesses, because confronting them meant accepting them. I was too proud. My pride had to be whittled down to face reality without the filters my ego placed onto it.

Much Can Be Achieved Through Dedicated Practice

I love exploring ideas, and writing is the outlet through which I actualize them. Whatever I generate mostly remains trapped in the realm of abstract thought, but it has the potential to materialize into reality.

Everything starts off as a thought drifting through the warm waters of the mind, waiting to be conceived. Not all of them make it out, but those that do have to be delicately received and nurtured until it can stand on its own.

SpaceX started off as an infant idea that Elon Musk carefully nurtured into the healthy giant it has become today. If it were anyone else, they would have aborted the idea as soon as they discovered it. No one in their right mind would think of making a living selling rockets, which is why they lead mediocre lives.

It’s the ones crazy enough to think they can that make it.

That is not to say all crazy people have the potential to become mutli-bilionaires, but a little bit of crazy is required to quell the fear that comes with dreaming big.

Its crazy to think that you will one day run a successful company.

Its crazy to think you will spend the rest of your days living off revenue generated from doing the things you love.

But it’s even crazier to believe that you have nothing of value to provide the world with, because maybe today you are worthless, but that will change tomorrow, if you are willing to suffer today.

The present is all we have, and all we will ever know. By setting things in motion, you are making a promise to yourself that the sacrifices you make today will pay off in the future.

Hope is what propels us further, no matter how insignificant the progress may be.

Sacrifice 1% of your time each day for that future that you dream of.

Forget about attaining it, just keep yourself occupied doing what you believe will make a difference, one percent at a time.

Rome wasn’t built in a day. Progress is made in steps, not by leaps and bounds.

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