We generally think about and solve problems by thinking in a forward way
How do I lose weight?
How do I get more customers?
How do I succeed in my career?
Try to think about these in a backward manner!
How not to gain weight!
How not to lose customers!
How not to fail in my career!
This process is known as inversion- addressing the problems backward. By inversion thinking, you come across certain behavior that you would like to avoid – the behavior which leads to weight -gain, loss of customers, and not succeeding in a career.
It’s much easier to avoid what you don’t want than to get what you do want.
Backward thinking as important as forward-thinking but somehow this important life -skill is never taught in schools
And it works in all aspects of life.
People in a leadership position can ask themselves, “What should I avoid to become a terrible manager?” Once the list is ready, follow the same and you are on the path to becoming a great leader.
Every person in marketing wants to attract new customers. In place of asking ‘how to get new customers’, if one can ask ‘how not to get new customers’! And do the opposite of what one gets in the list.
A different approach can reveal different insights.
Here are Charlie Munger thoughts on Inverse Thinking “
“Every great algebraist inverts all the time because the problems are solved easier. Human beings should do the same thing in ordinary walks of life. Just constantly invert. You don’t think about what you want. You think what you want to avoid.
When I was a meteorologist in World War II, they told me how to draw weather maps and predict the weather. But what I was actually doing is clearing pilots to take flights. I just reversed the problem. I inverted. I said, “Suppose I wanted to kill a lot of pilots.
I concluded the easy way to do it would be to get the planes into icing the planes couldn’t handle or to get the pilot to a place where they’d run out of fuel before they could safely land. I made up my mind to stay miles away from icing or socked-in conditions.
If somebody hired me to fix India, I would immediately say, “What could I do if I really wanted to hurt India?” And I’d figure out all the things that could most easily hurt India, and then I’d figure out how to avoid them.”
Avoiding stupidity is much easier than trying to be brilliant.
Instead of asking,” What better I should do better for my company or at my job “, one should ask, “What’s hurting my company the most or what’s stopping me to do my best at my job, and how that can be avoided ?”.
Identify obvious failure points and try to stay away from them.