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Goodhart’s law states that when a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure.

When the Soviet Union factories were given targets for how many nails they needed to produce, they make small and useless nails.

When the hospitals in Britain were penalized for wait times longer than four hours. The hospitals asked their ambulances to take the long road to the hospital. Even though the roundabout path hurt patients.

When Uber took on an aggressive win-at-all-cost expansion strategy, HR covered up a sexual harassment case from a high performer. It blew up in their face and the CEO got fired.

There is nothing that focuses the mind like a single target. But when money is the end goal, we easily forget our health and family.

There is a solution. As pointed out by Andy Grove in High-Output Management, it’s important to have a target but it is equally important to track counter metrics for context.

For customer service, it could be the speed of tickets closed and counter that with customer satisfaction.

For engineering, it could the percentage of ticket closed and counter that with the importance/priority of the ticket.

For sales, it could sales revenue and counter that with the renewal revenue or returning customers.

Life is never about one thing or one purpose, at all cost. When it’s the case, it ceases to be a good measure. What’s your target and what’s your counter metrics?

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Panic is a hobby. Hobby in the sense that it doesn’t produce a useful outcome. That is something we can choose to do or not do, based on how we tell ourselves a story. 

As I looked back, I identified some tools that have helped me along the way.

Worst-case planning – let me look into the worst future and imagine it. Once I’ve accepted (death), there are very little things that I need to be panicking about. 

Tim Ferriss’s fear setting exercise allows me to shine a light at the boogie-man. And the boogie-man is only scary because it exists in our heads. Turn on the lights, and it’s gone. 

I do the 5-minute journal every day. It is 4 simple questions that help me plan my day, be happier and get it done. 

I ditch the gym commute and practice The Happy Body every day, 20mins a day. It’s like yoga with weights at the comfort of my room. 

60% Revenue – is a planning exercise to see what you’ll do when your salary or revenue is cut by 60%. It might feel ominous to do it. But it prevents stupid decision when the hair is on fire. And in my experience, having a plan B in place is the best way to be prepared. 

Canned Sardines is a great source of protein and can last for a long time. If you can be happy with that, you’ll be a happy camper. 

Similarly, toilet paper is a luxury. The human has survived as a species without toilet paper for a long time, and I’m sure I can do without. This could be a real skill to live without, back to the basic. 

Organise a zoom lunch. If you’re the organiser, you’ll always have a seat at the table. Bring people together, to have lunch, to work, to play a game together. 

Learn how to get an online side-gig. It could be writing, research, coding, designing or video editing. Pick something you are interested in, start a profile and learn a skill that can make some side income online. 

This pandemic is not new to the human race. We’ve been through the Berlin Blockade, Cuban mission crisis, the Vietnam war, HIV, 9-11 and the 2008 real estate crash. There is no avoiding it. It’s coming. We’ve done this before and we’re going to do it again. Together. 

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Just yesterday, a Singapore lady was transferred to my hostel dorm. Upon learning that one of her roommates is from China, without saying 2 words, she jumped up and complained that the hostel is irresponsible. Is she racist or is she fearful for her safety?

If we notice, most small companies run by female founders have primarily female employees. Similarly, companies are dominated by people of the same race. Is it really hard to be diverse or is it that the hiring manager only knows to evaluate their own ‘kind of talent’?

If you don’t know by now, we are all born racists. Not because we want to be divisive, in fact just the opposite. It is because it is the easy thing to do.

Now, we have laws and quotas to help. And those are great for the short-term.

But in the long term, that is not a magic pill because the real culprit is fear.

Curing racism begins with accepting that we are fearful. We resort to easy thinking for safety and most importantly, we can change it.

It is through the work of continual understanding and learning. Drip by drip, one generation to the other, one person at a time.

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The question is when?

As the barriers of book publishing go down, the number of new books get published increase exponentially. For the first time in history, it’s impossible to finish all the books that out there. No, that is not inclusive of online courses, blog articles and e-books.

We are drowning in a sea of useful information, trapped in a never-ending cycle of new information.

A useful question: what are you doing to do with this knowledge?

It’s certainly possible. You might just like to learn for the sake of learning. And that’s okay.

There are big problems out there. Behind a pile of books (or browser tabs), that’s a good place to hide.

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Ali Abdaal, is a YouTuber and junior doctor in the UK. His YouTube channel has more than 30 millions view and 500K subscribers. 

He is also the founder of 6med, the largest medical exam preparation crash course in the world. 

Ali holds a doctorate from Cambridge University.

In this conversation, we spoke about:

  • Ali’s battle tested learning techniques
  • How to choose your doctors 
  • How to grow a YouTube while having a 50 hours/workweek doctor gig
  • and much more!

If you’ve only got 2 minutes, here’s a short video 

Links Mentioned

Connect with Ali Abdaal:
Website | YouTubeInstagram | Twitter | Facebook

Penn & Teller: Fool Us
Michael Vincent
Wayne Houchin
Guy Hollingworth
Gregory Wilson
Garrett Thomas
Ambitious Card Routine
Life is a Video Game by Mark Manson
Grand Theft Life, with Tim Urban 
Your Move: What Board Games Teach Us About Life by Jonathan Kay & Joan Moriarity 
NHS, UK
Medline, US
Medscape
NICE (National Institute of Medical Excellence) 
Uptodate.com
BMJ (Best practice)
BSSH (British Society for Surgery of the Hand)
BAAPS (British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeon)
Babylon Health App
BNF (British National Formulary)
Drugs.com
On Caring by Nate Soares
The Giving What We Can Pledge
Will MacAskill
Frame.io
The Great CEO Within by Matt Mochary
The Game by Neil Strauss
The Mystery Method by Mystery
Models: Attract Women Through Honesty by Mark Manson
The Art of Seduction by Robert Green
Red Pill (Reddit)

Thanks for stopping by and listening!

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When we call someone racist, sexist, or a capitalist, what are we hoping for?

Here's the thing: the best way to push someone away is by branding them with a pejorative label, obstruct a useful conversation, turning them into that other.

Much more useful: Hold them to a higher standard, identify the behaviour that’s counter-productive and talk about it.

And of course, there’s an art. The rule is to stop attacking the person and avoid the lizard brain, the Amygdala from acting up.

Instead of saying to someone, “Hey, that’s not cool man" causing all sorts of defence mechanism to fire up.

What if we say, “Hey, I know you’re not a racist."

By assuming positive intent, it opens up a conversation with curiosity. And if there’s a change that needs to be made, we’ve crafted an opportunity.

The seven magic words. "Hey, I know you're not a ______."

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I used to be smart. When problems surfaced, I jumped to offer solutions.

Do it this way. It’s faster, cheaper and stronger. The best way, my way.

Now, I am wise. I sit curiously, I ask and I listened.

Just as it’s about the answer, it’s about the journey to the answer.

Because what’s the point if the world's greatest diet and no one wants to follow it.

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No, I can’t meet with you, no I don’t want to donate here, no I can’t give you anymore discount. I’m sorry, but no, I can’t.

You try and try again, through manipulation, trickery and a good tantrum. In the short term, you might get an yes. But the first instance I can, I will run away.

No is hard to accept. It requires emotional labour, understanding and empathy, but in the long run, the door will be open for you.

Because “I see you” is what we all really crave for.

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Doctors may be able to save my lives, but I’m not sure if I can trust his words anymore.

Just last week, I got a call from my doctor asking to postpone the appointment in light of the CoronaVirus. He mentioned that it’s best to stay away from the hospital, offered to ship my prescription and informed me about my MRI results. I had a slipped disc.

“Hold up. Could I get those scans and ask for a second opinion?”

“Sure.”

I received a report in the email, but not the scans. I spoke the doctor again asking for the actual scans. He mentioned that it can’t be sent over because of the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA). I suggested then to keep the appointment and I can come to take a photo of his computer screen.

Again. “No, you can’t. PDPA”. [At this point, I was about to reach through the phone and punch him].

“It’s my data. Why can’t I get them?”

As much as I did not want to come to the hospital, I’m in pain and I want to fix my back. I tried repeatedly to understand why can’t I get the scans, my scans. Again, PDPA.

End of my patience, “could you quote the exact section in PDPA where I can’t get a photo of my scans?”

He acknowledged and said that he would come back to me.

The phone rang. This time, he found a solution. He’s going to print the scans out. Boom, problem solved.

Except, what really happened to PDPA?

Of course, this article isn’t really about PDPA. It’s about taking the courage to say “I was wrong, I’m sorry”. Because in the short term, we might be able to get away with the uneasiness of owning up, while costing us the trust and reputation that have been built over decades.

Because in the long term, we all win. We keep our reputation and, in the meantime, learn something to use for the rest of our lives. To be the kind of person that adopts the posture of learning instead of covering up.

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Are you shocked by your own selfishness? Feeling guilty about leaving food on the plate when children are starving, not finishing that book you bought or turning down the ex-convict asking for donations. 

Here’s the conflict. The first kind of guilt is relatively easy to discern and easy to solve - when someone is asking more than you can give, you turn them down. But I wonder if we have the tools to solve the second kind, the more difficult kind. 

Consider this scenario: 

David grew up in a family with both parents that loved him dearly. When he got married, his wife moved in.

And as most family goes, there were little fights along the way. But nothing too big that couldn’t be solved with small compromises and a good night’s sleep. 

In a series of events, a fight broke out between David’s wife and his mum. His wife loves experimenting in the kitchen and David’s mum is particular on how cooking should be done. In a rage, David’s wife packed up a suitcase and left the house. She couldn’t compromise anymore. She wants her own freedom and cannot stand to live another day with David’s mum. 

David needs to make a choice, to stay with his mum or leave with his wife. He was conflicted and felt horrible about this.

In this scenario, it’s normal to feel guilty because we have bought the story that we are indebted to our parent, to our spouse, and the people who helped us along the way. 

Perhaps the non-obvious choice is this. Occupy Yourself - just like Occupy Wall Street – is about taking back the power from banks, Occupy Yourself is about taking back your own power. Because no one should have the power to guilt you into anything. 

Guilt is perhaps just a sign that your priorities are in conflict. A sign to sit down and think deeply about your values. A sign for you to take responsibility. 

In the end, you have to decide for yourself. No one can help you, not even this article. 

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