I used to curse my butterfly brain, but ten years ago, I stumbled over this idea from Charlie Munger.
… you can’t really know anything if you just remember isolated facts and try and bang ‘em back. If the facts don’t hang together on a latticework of theory, you don’t have them in a usable form. You’ve got to have models in your head. And you’ve got to array your experience both vicarious and direct on this latticework of models.
The idea underpinning Munger’s ‘latticework of models’ is simple and powerful – the way to practical wisdom is multidisciplinary thinking. Or, to put it another way – whatever your speciality, you want to cultivate and feed a general curiosity outside your field.
The real insight here is that you don’t need to know a discipline in depth to derive huge value from its central ideas.
For example, let’s take three fundamental things we can learn from psychology:
Humans tend to act in their own interest.
Humans tend to conserve effort, mental or otherwise.
Humans tend to focus on the short-term.
Do you find these ‘insights’ obvious? My guess is yes … but how many business strategies have you seen, applauded, or even proposed that fly in the face of these basic ideas?
I’ve seen plenty.
And there are core insights like these in every discipline – ideas that in Munger’s parlance can not only, ‘carry a lot of freight’, but can help you to stop seeing every problem as a nail for your particular hammer.
Here’s a dumb example. In the 500+ ‘StoryHacker’ podcasts I’ve recorded in the last couple of years, I’ve touched on psychology, strategy, rhetoric, stoic philosophy, physics, simple machines, lean manufacturing, history, systems thinking and a load more.
I’m not an expert in any of these things, but each of them makes me a better businessman, storyteller and copywriter.
Here’s the podcast…