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Successful primary producers are constantly thinking about their business. They have puzzles presented to them from all directions – this is what makes living and working on the land unique.

Consider the old adage “A jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one“. You cannot just be a jack of all trades, you must master many – far more than someone in another type of business. Success comes from knowledge and understanding – Never stop learning.

Here are some techniques that will assist you to solve seemingly impossible puzzles.

Table of Contents

First boil things down to the fundamental truths, then reason up from there

Elon Musk

First Principles Reasoning​

This is not as easy as thinking by analogy which is the mainstream method. For example “Battery packs are really expensive, and that is the way they will always be, because that is the way they have been in the past”.

The high price was caused by the number of manufacturers, fabricators and assemblers in the supply chain – each adding their own costs and profit margins in a form of compound interest.

Instead, Musk determined the cost of the component materials and built his own vertically integrated manufacturing model which operated more efficiently at a much lower cost. As he said recently “Raw materials in, Cars out“.

“First boil things down to the fundamental truths, then reason up from there”.

Use the following steps:
Step 1 – Identify your vision or goal
Step 2 – List all obstacles and actions needed
Step 3 – Break each obstacle down to first principles
Step 4 – Build new creative solutions for each obstacle from these first principles

Second Order Thinking

Second order thinking involves asking the question “And then what happens?” sequentially. Look for secondary and tertiary effects for each primary decision.
Failing to consider second and subsequent order consequences is the cause of a lot of painfully bad decisions. It is especially deadly when the first inferior option confirms your own biases.

Sometimes you may need to take a backward step early in order to get on a better track. Short term thinkers will argue that this is a retrograde move due to the negative step. They are blind to the benefits of switching tracks.

Never seize on the first available option, no matter how good it seems, before you’ve questioned and explored.

When You Have Eliminated the Impossible

“When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” ~ Arthur Conan Doyle, The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes.

Root Cause Analysis

Once a problem is identified, do a root cause analysis to get to the bottom of the problem, It will not be obvious initially. Ask “Why”. As each answer is returned, it may not be the root cause so ask “Why” again. You will know when you have the definitive answer.

The Silent Observer

This is the basis of all mental discipline and management skills. It is simple to learn and practice, but does require some will power.

You learn this technique in three stages.

Consider there is a mini-you sitting on your shoulder. This small person can see inside your head and hear your thoughts, often before you can.

First you simply observe your thoughts through this person without judgement and do not try to change anything. Once you become skilled at this, you may progress.

Second, when you notice a thought that was not what you wanted – simply say to yourself, “Avert” and think the thought as you would have it. After a period, your thoughts will align with your purpose.

Lastly, your selection of thoughts and therefore words and actions will become second nature and far less effort.

Why would I want to do this?

  1. Our thoughts control our attitudes.
  2. Our attitudes control our actions.
  3. Our actions generate our future.

Successful entrepreneurs and all good managers are able to manage their emotions and actions. This ability is simply a requirement to be honest with yourself.

Knowing What I Now Know

Run through all of your business systems and hires and think “is this working?”.
If it is not optimal, then ask your self the question knowing what I now know, would I do this again?“.
If the answer is NO, then ask yourself “how long can I tolerate this?” and then “what can I do that is better? What is the alternative?“.
Likely, the best response is to quickly remove the situation or dismiss the person. This will remove the pain point and the potential to damage the business.
Show the courage to take quick action – AFTER identifying an alternative – but do not wait too long.

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