The Weekly Resolve Email 63

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3 Thoughts on Inversion: A Mental Model to Help Deliver Your Goals

Edition 63 — read on     |  March 22nd, 2022

Happy thinking Tuesday!

Here is one quote, one question, and big idea to challenge the way you make decisions and improve your life.

A quote…

“Invert, always invert.”—Charlie Munger

A question…

What’s the opposite of what I want to achieve?

A big idea…

A lack of preparation paves the way to inverted outcomes.

The unintended, the unexpected, those are the opposite outcomes we want. To avoid the inverted outcome, we have to invert what we want.  Awareness to avoid the outcome we don’t want, makes it easier to achieve the one we do.

Improve the quality of your outcomes by inverting.


Inversion is an incredible mental model.

Its simplicity is delightful. Challenging to grasp sometimes, but only because it’s not intuitive. It's blighted further by what it doesn’t give us.

It’s hard to delight in an outcome you don’t get.

Here we are, contemplating a mental model that helps you get what you want by avoiding what you don’t want. Consider the arc of a half-circle as the spectrum of possible outcomes. Preventing the unwanted outcome makes the spectrum of remaining outcomes smaller.

It then makes the outcome we do want more attainable.

Of course, inversion won’t make life perfect, but it can help.

Take the global sport of football. Everyone wants to win, so the focus is on scoring goals. Asking the opposite—as in, how do we not lose brings different thoughts about the game. Tactics on defensive play, possession and positioning begin to hold more importance. You can see these traits in the top teams.

Inverting problems and decisions aren’t intuitive. So, like anything unnatural, we have to work at it.

It takes practice to keep asking what’s the opposite of what you want to achieve.

  • I want to be right—leads to how do I not be wrong
  • I want to be brilliant—leads to how do I not be stupid

These examples are broad in their application, but inversion works specifically too. I encourage you to invert and awaken your mind to perspectives unseen. Considering opposites allows you to prepare for them.

That’s the brilliance of inversion.

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Keep on making great decisions!

Darren Matthews

Founder, The Resolve Blog

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