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Avoiding Stupidity

Robert Merki

Charlie Munger is an American investor and billionaire. Beyond his massive wealth, he doesn’t seem to be supremely talented in any one field. He is a brilliant thinker and writer, but he didn’t make his money by writing books. He’s not a computer genius, brilliant biochemist, or math wizard. He wasn’t successful as a lawyer, so his friend Warren Buffet told him to become an investor. That seemed to work out for both of them.

How did Charlie do it? Did he rapidly sprint from one genius investment to another? Far from it. Munger spent his career making good, stable, long-term, and boring investments. That’s where his genius lies. Charlie Munger avoided trying to be a superstar every day. Instead, he chose to make many good decisions over an extended period of time. When asked about his strategy, he often repeats the same line:

“It is remarkable how much long-term advantage people like us have gotten by trying to be consistently not stupid, instead of trying to be very intelligent.”

People with ADHD tend to try and leverage their hyperfocus states into genius solutions as a remedy to all of their problems. Has this ever worked for you? How many rabbit holes did you go down in a frenzy of excitement, only to come up with an abandoned, unfinished project you’re ashamed of? Did this burst of genius really accomplish anything in the long-run?

Just like investing or poker, we get tempted by visions of glory and success if only we could maneuver our way through some high stakes, adrenaline-fueled gambit. Charlie has the right mindset. You don’t need to find some miraculous trick to be able to focus for 18 hours a day. That’s like trying to figure out a way to sprint the full length of a marathon. Instead of overleveraging random bursts of hyperfocus, think about increasing the productivity of your average days.

How do we do this? Start by changing your mindset. Make the conscious decision to be like Charlie and avoid stupidity at all costs. Trying to work 100 hours/week is stupidity. Fix your 40-hour workweek first.

You don’t need to make genius, herculean efforts every day to overcome your perceived failures. Likely, your average days just need to be better. Consciously choosing to have better averages is the basis of a good mindset. If you get hypefocused, let it happen in a controlled way, but don’t rely on it.

Don’t try to overcome your problems by being very intelligent. Just avoid stupidity.

This is part of the Sample Chapter for my book, ADHD Pro

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