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  • Writer's pictureCory Cleveland

Consider This: The Great Mental Models

An in-depth book review

My name is Cory, I am the President of Creative Return and the host of The Insider’s Guide To Finance. The following are my insights and learnings from the interviews and dealings I have with talented entrepreneurs, operators, and financiers. I hope you find them valuable in your endeavours.

I'm not sure when I first became interested in how people think, but when I did, I went in search of a book that would help explain it.

One example was when I sat down with an MIT Computer Science graduate. To him math is easy. Like long division, multiple multiplication math done in his head is kind of easy.

Curious, I asked how he did it. What he explained was simply a mental model - a repeatable process in which he moved numbers around in his head to come to a final result. Perhaps he has a well-practiced strength to do this, but my point is he reuses a mental model to reach the desired outcome.

In the book, Great Mental Models, the authors make the point that - "The quality of your thinking depends on the models that are in your head."

This assertion covers every aspect of life and I think you could replace the quality of thinking with the quality of outcomes. The book details nine models that have been used by the greatest thinkers in the world. For me, it is an enjoyable guide on ways to think better.

Currently, the thinking concept aka mental model I'm studying is Second-Order Thinking. Whenever we make a decision, even a major one, we rarely think about what happens next. It is the effects of the decisions we've made. This is also referred to as the 'Law of Unintended Consequences'.

A funny example given is from when the British had colonial rule over India. Concerned with the number of venomous cobra snakes in Delhi, the British rulers instituted a reward for every dead cobra brought to officials. The second-order effect was that industrious Indian citizens began breeding cobras to slaughter and present for their reward.

I'll leave it to you to imagine the end result of this bit of history, but it begs the question - What will be the consequences, good or bad, of our recent shared history?

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