Inversion is thinking about your objective in reverse.
Instead of thinking forward about what you need to do to get what you want, you spin it round and in reverse, away from your objective, about what you don’t want to happen.
So for example, in thinking about what I was going to write in this article I thought about writing a lot of waffle, with long words and a lack of clarity, and with no clear take-away points.
A real-life current and personal example of inversion
Another real-life example: at time of writing in late March 2021 most of the world is still suffering the effects of extended lock-downs.
My current primary business is, or now was, the fuel trade. My role was in bringing together buyers and sellers of crude oils and also refinery produced refined fuel products, and a major part of this was in conducting the necessary due diligence to weed out the spurious, the time-wasters and the fraudulent.
Given that much of the world's oil is pumped and refined in some of the poorest and most badly run countries in the world and thus least equipped to deal with the effects of the pandemic, and given the inevitable slump in global fuel demand, my business is currently dead.
I have been giving much thought about how I can refocus the skills that I have developed in the fuel market into other business sectors.
If I apply inversion to this challenge, I will do the following:
As you can see, all of these inversions are really about my "inner game".
Through this inversion exercise, what becomes clear to me is that whilst most of the external aspects of this situation are out of my control, what I CAN do is manage my inner state and my response to these events and I do have have a very large degree of control over that.
German mathematician, Carl Jacobi, developed the inversion technique and he was well-known for solving difficult problems by using the simple strategy of ‘man muss immer umkehren,’ which means ‘Invert, always invert.’
He proposed that hard problems could be solved more easily and more quickly through inversion.
Success Equals Good Decisions Minus Bad Decisions.
The most powerful benefit of using the inversion technique is that it will help you to avoid the bad decisions preventing you from achieving your goals.
Charlie Munger highlights this point:
“Invert, always invert: Turn a situation or problem upside down. Look at it backward. What happens if all our plans go wrong?
Where don’t we want to go, and how do you get there? Instead of looking for success, make a list of how to fail instead–through sloth, envy, resentment, self-pity, entitlement, all the mental habits of self-defeat.
Avoid these qualities and you will
Further Reading: Avoiding Bad Decisions
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