I am truly enjoying this thinking exercise I’ve been doing in the last few days, shifting the perspective on doubt. From something being unwanted and potentially frightening it became a desirable state wherein the sense of possibility can be felt. Yesterday I heard Daniel Schmachtenberger mentioning a grid laid out by Peter Thiel in his book Zero to One. He proposes a grid to understand how people see the world. He does it through distinguishing between different types of pessimism and optimism. In the context of my weakness/virtue shifts I thought it would be interesting to expand this idea. Thiel’s model gives a nice framework to build on.
I used to be a big fan of models, structures and grids by the way. I was using it a lot in my work, welding theories together to accommodate my thinking. They gave me the idea that I am cleaning up the chaos my hungry curiosity was constantly creating. They do give me a feeling that I am figuring things out once they find their place in the structure, but there are always those that wont’t fit and stay outside the grid. They are either abounded or made to be fitting. Recently I find these deviations and abnormalities being the most interesting part of my thinking. Perhaps being obsessed with putting things in place left little doubts so I am drifting towers a more uncomfortable setup, looking for challenge and excitement. Perhaps, the rationality of the process just became deeply limiting and unfulfilling. But it seems like another story to unpack another time.
Per definition grids and models are limiting, they demarcate the space to make it easier to handle the complexity. Structures reduce the complexity in order to build understanding and bring fulfilling awe of accomplishment. Despite the deceiving tendencies, grids and models are handy to build solid ground to get a grip on the world. But let’s be aware that they are not to be confused with reality, they are there just to facilitate a base or give a structure to a dialogue which eventually will lead to seeing what’s beyond the visible, clear structure of a grid.
Let’s build one today. I’ll take the liberty to use Thiel’s model as a base. He is talking about indefinite pessimism, definite pessimism, indefinite optimism and indefinite pessimism. Indefinite pessimism is when someone feels that everything is doomed and there is no way out, and no idea why that is happening. Definite pessimist believes that everything is doomed but sees a reason why it is like that and prepares for it. Indefinite optimist is the one who believes in a better future but has no idea why and waits for opportunities to emerge without active engagement. Definite optimist, also believes that the future is bright but she knows what is the reason for it. She trusts the environment because she understands how it works and ability to prepare for what is coming.
When I look at this model I sense four different modes to engage with whatever is happening internally or externally. I see two main angles, facets of the cube we are building. An emotional response and rational processing. Emotional response results in either feeling cautious and fearless (definite pessimism and optimism). Rational processing includes meta level of thinking and practical solution oriented actions (indefinite pessimism and optimism).
In the upcoming days I’ll unpack each of these prisms and see if we can use this model to equip ourselves with the necessary angles to navigate the complexity. Obviously, being hyper alert to the dangers that come with it: reducing the complexity to the quadrant model that would be a useless thing to do. But I believe once we know how to look through the prism we can go wild and explore what is beyond our knowledge. I have a strong sense, that I can’t yet verbalise, that the exploration of these four states from being meta to practical and from cautious to fearless can be a very helpful exercise to cultivate optimal shapeshifting.