A way to cope with the changing world
As the world changes at an increasingly fast rate every year the importance of different ways of thinking becomes ever so apparent because they give you a way to look at something from a new perspective.
This perspective is something that not many, if any, people will have, because for it you need to have the exact same set of models and much smaller is the probability of them facing the same exact problem you have to solve.
By increasing the number of fields you work in and by increasing the number of tools you can use you are actually developing solutions that only you could come up with.
But just having more tools doesn’t solve the problem, it is only by knowing exactly when to use each tool that a carpenter can make what he does and it only by knowing when to use each of the sculpting tools that a sculptor can make art.
Learning how to use them is something that comes with experience, with failure introspection and feedback. Because the best teacher is the world and only by applying your hypothesis to the world and seeing the result can you learn.
You are a researcher and the mental models are the theories that you have to test, you try them you see how they work in each situation and you iterate if you see that it doesn’t solve the problem.
Another way of thinking about mental models is the lean startup methodology where you have an assumption, in this case, you think that one of your mental models can work for a situation, and you try it and see how it works.
But first you decide on how you can tell if the model worked or not and then you test your assumption and depending on the result you continue or not using that mental model to that situation.
If it doesn’t work search for another method and try it once again, see how it works and continue with the process, and always remember that there is no mental model that can work for all situations, but rather you should learn when to use each of the different models.
”When understanding is separated from reality, we lose our powers. Understanding must constantly be tested against reality and updated accordingly. This isn’t a box we can tick, a task with a definite beginning and end, but a continuous process. ”