What if you could be twice the person you are today — twice as strong, twice as smart, twice as kind. Seriously. Take a moment to think about it. Wouldn’t that be great?
I get all excited about the possibilities. Furthermore, I’m also convinced it’s possible. And today I will show you exactly how to do it. No pills or prescriptions required.
Actually, it’s a lot simpler than you think. So if this sounds like something you would like, keep reading. I have a plan.
How to become 2x stronger
I’ve already written about this. All it takes is 15 minutes. Yes, it’s really that simple. Read this post, do the work, and you will double your current strength. Now let’s get to the hard part.
How to become 2x smarter
This is not as easy as losing fat or lifting more weight. The brain is different. First of all, it’s almost impossible to measure how much knowledge our brains hold. Second, we have no clue where the limit is. If we manage to become 2x smarter, could we also become 4x smarter? Or maybe 8x?
The short answer is: YES. The long answer involves neuronal plasticity, creating synaptic pathways, and neurogenesis. But we won’t go there. That’s all stuff I’ve studied so you don’t have to! So trust me when I say that you can do it.
Three ingredients for a smarter you
Before we start working on the new, smarter you, we need to gather 3 ingredients. Actually, it’s 3.5. But I will get to that 0.5 bit later.
Ingredient no. 1: Mindset
If there’s one idea you remember after reading this article, it should be this: “the view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life”. Your mindset determines what you become.
People fall into one of two categories. They either have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. And the category you are in is essential to everything else you do in life — including your jobs, hobbies, and personal relationships.
This is not just some woo-woo motivational bullshit. The concept is rooted in psychological science, with biological evidence to back it up. Carol Dweck, the Eaton Professor of Psychology at Stanford, has written a great book on this topic. The main idea is this:
Someone with a fixed mindset believes his/her qualities are carved in stone. There’s no way to become a good singer if you’re not born this way. Likewise, you can’t improve your character, personality, or empathy. And you can’t get smarter.
On the other hand, someone with a growth mindset believes that the hand you’re dealt is just the starting point. Sure, some good cards, while others get a shitty hand. But that’s just the start. It’s your choice if you rely on the first hand or start improving. Putting in the work will make you a smarter and better person.
The good news is, you get to choose. You are free to switch from one mindset to another. And you can do it instantly.
So choose to have a growth mindset.
Ingredient no. 2: Information
This should come as no surprise, but to get smarter you need quality information. Of course, being smart doesn’t mean just memorizing a bunch of facts. That’s being knowledgeable.
Being smart means being able to understand all those facts. Then you have to filter out the crap and integrate the rest in a logical framework. You also need to keep an open mind and modify those connections as new pieces of information come along.
But before you can do all this, you first have to get the information.
So where can you find quality information? A good place to start would be joining the Optimization Movement. Another great place for brain food is the Farnam Street blog. You can also check out this list of books that have changed my life.
There are hundreds of places where you could begin. Just pick one and start gathering information. Stick with it and avoid the Shiny Object Syndrome. It gets easier with time and soon you will know exactly where to look for more.
Ingredient no. 3: Reflection
After gathering all those infos you need to pause and reflect. Make this a habit.
It’s easy to get sucked into the vortex of information.
This happens to me all the time. I get really excited about a subject and consume everything I can get my hands on. It’s not unusual for me to read 5 books, 10 scientific papers, and watch a few dozen YouTube videos, just because I want to write a great article about something. It’s exhausting. Furthermore, it’s not the most efficient way to do it.
After realizing that I’m forgetting stuff and mixing things up, I changed this. Now I force myself to pause, take notes, and reflect on those ideas. I don’t let myself start a new book before transcribing all the notes from the last one. And at the end of the day, I lay in bed and think about how these new ideas fit in my view of the world.
This sounds slow and boring. I know. But it works. All of the world’s top thinkers set aside time to pause and reflect. And so should you.
The magic ingredient: Effort
There’s no cake without cream and there’s no way to improve without effort.
I’ve laid out the ingredients and in the next section I will tell you how to mix them, but you still have to put in the work. It’s what makes the difference between where you are and where you could be. That’s why I will say it again: DO THE WORK!
Using the most Powerful Force in the Universe to make you Smarter
Finding a way to become twice as smart wasn’t an easy task. After a few brainstorming sessions and some hours doing deep work, I decided to recruit one of the brightest minds that have ever lived.
Compound interest is the most powerful force in the universe – Albert Einstein
If Einstein really said this is up for debate. But the concept still stands.
If you’ve read any financial books or blogs, you know what compound interest is. You can find it in any simple-minded recipe for becoming a millionaire. But that’s not what we’re after here (if you’re smart enough, the money follows naturally).
Basically, compound interest means getting interest on interest. You have an initial sum, you get interest on that, and add the interest to the pile. Then you get interest on the new pile. Repeat this enough times and the pile will soon be HUGE.
How can we use this concept to become smarter?
Becoming smarter sounds complicated. Becoming 2x or 4x as smart as you currently are seems like a daunting task. But I’ve broken it down into tiny steps. And I promise you it’s not just doable, but it won’t even require much effort.
Convinced? Great. Now let’s get started.
Think of one topic you’re interested in. Not something on which you’re an expert, just something you would like to know more about. Found it? Good. Now tell me how much time it would take you to know 1% more than you currently do about that subject. 10 minutes? 30? I think less than one hour is a good estimate for most people. Remember, I said just 1% more.
Now imagine you would invest that time and effort every day. Everything you currently know on that subject amounts to 100%. You then put in the work and add 1% to your current knowledge. At the end of the day you have 101%.
Tomorrow you do the same. But this time you’re starting at 101%, which means that at the end of the day your knowledge is at 102.01%. Do it again the day after that and you’re at 103.03%. Keep at it for long enough and you will get something like this:
By following this method you double your baseline knowledge in 70 steps. Which means that by putting in 30-60 minutes of work/day, you’re can become twice as smart in just 2.5 months!
Keep it up and after a year you will be 16x smarter. Now that’s what I call a solid return on investment!
Some small caveats
I know some part of you now thinks: This sounds too good to be true. And you’re right. Well, in part at least.
Improving by 1% per day doesn’t sound like much — until you start. Then life gets in the way. You have a tough day at work, need to pick up the kids, or just prefer going out today. I get that. The good news is that the method will work even if you skip a day or two. Or even more if you have to. There’s no reason to feel bad about it. Work on it in your own pace. Just keep at it and you will double your smarts after 70 repetitions.
Even if you can only find 1 hr/week, that means you will be twice as smart as you are today in less than a year and a half. I’ll take that anytime!
The second caveat refers to the effort you need to put in. As you know and understand more stuff, that 1% will also get bigger. You will still keep improving, but not at the same pace. At one point you may even hit a plateau or have to spend more than 1 hour/session.
But we don’t want that! We want maximum results with minimum required effort.
This is where the reflection part works its magic. Remember how I said it’s important to take some time and think about what you’ve learned? Here’s why. As you gather more knowledge and reflect upon it, you will start making connections. You recognize patterns and start applying knowledge from one field to another. If you do it right, it’s like playing life with cheat codes. Suddenly, more and more stuff makes sense and you don’t even have to read the whole book/paper to understand what it’s about. Reflection can take you from 180% to 200% in one session. So don’t skip this step.
One last thing…
If you’ve made it this far, I congratulate you! This was a tough one. But I think becoming a smarter and stronger person is worth a long read.
At the beginning of this post, I promised you a recipe for becoming twice as strong, twice as smart, and… twice as kind. But we haven’t covered that last bit, right?
That’s because being kinder comes naturally if you do the rest.
Most of us become more conscientious, confident, caring, and calm with life experience. – Angela Duckworth in Grit
Once you understand more about the world around you and the people inhabiting it, it’s almost impossible to not become kinder. The more you know, the more you understand and empathize. Trust me, this is coming from someone born with a severe lack of empathy.
But working on yourself can fix that. And any other thing you have in mind. Just keep at it, 1% at a time. You will be amazed where you will find yourself one year from today.
Progress is not achieved by luck or accident, but by working on yourself daily – Epictetus
* * *
As always, I would love to know your thoughts on this. So drop me an email. I promise to read them all.