Supported by Greenhaven Road Capital, finding value off the beaten path.
Shane Parrish is a ruminative interviewer. In The Knowledge Project, his preparation shines through , today we’ll highlight the episode featuring Amelia Boone.
Experiences in college, law school, and adventure racing helped Boone realize the finish line fallacy. That is, there is no finish line in life. A mistake is to think there is one. Worse is to make somebody’s finish line yours. Boone “worked her butt off” in college and law school to land in a great law firm. She succeed. Then, “I look around that law firm after the first year and I said, ‘Okay, what’s next?'”
What’s next was obstacle racing. There she learned the same lesson. “You’re not always going to be successful when you go out and do your own thing, but it doesn’t bother me if someone else beats me, what bothers me is when I beat myself.”
At the 2016 BH meeting, Charlie Munger said about GEICO’s performance, “I don’t think it’s a tragedy that one competitor had a little better ratio one period.”
Jason Fried warns people about becoming the next Jeff Bezos. “His success (Bezos) is one that’s very very hard to achieve…most likely you won’t get there…the odds are stacked against you…and if you think that’s the only way you’re going to be miserable.”
Becoming the next so-and-so is impossible. And #winning may not even be wanted. If you become like Bezos or climb a podium like Boone, success isn’t all there is.
Boone said, “As motivated as athletes are to win you see so many people winning races that are so miserable at the same time.”
Jim Carrey wishes people could be rich and famous to see that being rich and famous isn’t so rich.
The (former) richest person in the world agrees. William Henry Vanderbilt inherited the Vanderbilt empire – then expanded it. Yet he lamented about a friend:
“He isn’t worth a hundredth part as much as I am, but he has more of the real pleasures of life than I have. His house is as comfortable as mine, even if it didn’t cost so much; his team is about as good as mine; his opera box is next to mine; his health is better than mine, and he will probably outlive me. And he can trust his friends.”
Instead, Vanderbilt should have focused on the process. Boone said, “But you realize it’s never going to be enough sitting at the top. It’s never going to be enough to win a race…For me it has turned into the love of the process.”
But what blocks this is the ego. “I had to check my ego and realize it’s all a process…If you get completely fixated on the outcome you’re going to drive yourself nuts trying to achieve it.”
Yet, de-egoing isn’t enough. You also have to get past social norms. “Part of the joy in racing is marching to my own tune. To do that sometimes you have to be bold. I have to say, ‘this is what everyone wants me to do as an athlete but it’s not what I’m being drawn to right now so I’m going to go off in this direction,’ and having the ability to say that and recognize that that’s okay.”
It’s a dichotomy to balance. I’m right vs They’re right.
Boone found her answers through practice. Parrish asks about how she succeeded so suddenly and Amelia replied “Like any skill it’s through practice, habit, and repetition…The more exposure the better you get.”
Jeff Annello said it applies to mental pursuits too, “I think an efficient decision maker is like a chess player that has studied a lot of games, and can very quickly call to mind other moves that have been made and what the best moves are.”
Boone gets her reps (reps reps) in the morning. “I realized that I function best early in the mornings and that people are totally different. My number one things for people is to realize, where is your golden hour of the day. Mine is when the sun comes up.”
Related to ‘circle of competence’ (what I know and don’t) is ‘knowing thyself’ (what I can do and not). In his book, The Rough Riders, Roosevelt recalls being asked to lead a regiment into Cuba. Teddy wrote, “while I believed I could learn to command the regiment in a month, that it was just this very month which I could not afford to spare, and that there-fore I would be quite content to go as Lt. Colonel if he would make (Leonard) Wood Colonel.”
Boone can get up early. Roosevelt could ride a horse but not command men.
If Amelia Boone were just a lawyer at Apple she wouldn’t be interviewed by Parrish and others. She’s there because of her obstacle course racing success. Yet so little of that success is thanks to the physical. Getting up early, managing the ego, and knowing thyself are all mental aspects.
Though few people will scale a slope shouldering a log, everyone can approach obstacles like Amelia Boone.
Thanks for reading.