Do Less, Get More

“Recall that the interventionista focuses on positive action — doing. Just like positive definitions, we saw that acts of commission are respected and glorified by our primitive minds and lead to, say, naive government interventions that end in gidaster, followed by generalized complaints about naive government interventions, as these, it is now accepted, end in disaster, followed by more naive government interventions. Acts of omission, not doing something, are not considered acts and do not appear to be part of one’s mission …
I have used all my life a wonderfully simple heuristic: charlatans are recognizable in that they will give you positive advice, and only positive advice, exploiting our gullibility and sucker-proneness for recipes that hit you in a flash as just obvious, then evaporate later as you forget them. Just look at the ‘how to’ books with, in their title ‘Ten Steps for — ‘ (fill in: entrichment, weight loss, making friends, innovation, getting elected, building muscles, finding a husband, running an orphanage, etc.). Yet in practice it is the negative that’s used by the pros, those selected by evolution: chess grandmasters usually win by not losing; people become rich by not going bust (particularly when others do); religions are mostly about interdicts; the learning of life is about what to avoid. You reduce most of your personal risks of accident thanks to a small number of measures.” — Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Antifragile

You’re coming into this idea halfway through — the idea is that once a system is in motion, don’t act except to remove bottlenecks.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But if it’s broke, remove things.

An editor removes the crap from a book — but is forgotten. Could you name one? Good writers can’t help but include bullshit. Nobody can vomit perfection. They produce goodness + crap, then remove the crap.

You can’t see what’s left out of a system.

The president who does the least is forgotten, regardless of the state of a country.


Our culture looks for heroes. We currently define heroes by their “intelligence.” We can’t worship what we don’t see.

Almost everything is a system. Your body is a system, your career is a system, your relationships are a system.

Cut the bullshit before you add anything.

Cut the KFC before you add smoothies, cut the two hours of Facebooking before you hire a productivity guru, stop hanging out with assholes before you get a mentor.

If you’re adding something to any system, you’d better be damn sure it’s a worthy addition. It’s usually not. The bigger a system gets, the more fragile it is.

The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency. — Bill Gates

Don’t bet on what you can’t prove. Don’t do something just to make yourself or others feel better, short term. Doing nothing should be the default.

Is there anything you can remove to get stronger? What’s the bottleneck you’re ignoring in favor of a pill?

Do you have to act now, or will time take care of the problem?