The Contrarian Thinker

contrarianIn his book Zero to One, investor, entrepreneur and ex member of the PayPal Mafia, Peter Thiel talks about asking the contrarian questions. The only way to innovate is to create a new reality, and we can't begin to create a new reality with old thinking habits. More of the same,simply brings us more of the same, it is highly logical when we pause to think. One of his more interesting insights is the following question:

"If you have a 10 year plan and know how to get there, you have to ask why can't you do this in 6 months?"

This may seem like a rather unusual question, and you are not alone in that assertion. However, he is using a classic tool of inversion, because most beliefs at their core are built on grains of sand. Therefore, let's suspend disbelief and use the Socratic method, of asking 3 questions, to dissect his question.

1. What does a 'reasonable' 10 year plan look like to me?

2. Do I have solid underlying reasons for believing these assertions to be true?

If we are open and honest then we will see that our assertions and Peter Thiel's questions are simply based on different mental models of reality. The third and final question is this:

3. Does my mental model of reality change as I evolve?

If we are tempted to answer No, then unless we move away from this temptation we will never have any understanding of a mind that can take a great question and use it as a framework for great action.

You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete. - R. Buckminster Fuller


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