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Justin Wright

Weekly Recap - Positive Sum

published3 months ago
3 min read

Happy Monday!

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This week we are discussing the benefits of viewing life as a positive-sum vs zero-sum game.

As a brief disclaimer: any links for items, books, etc. that are available for purchase are done through an affiliate program. This means that I get paid a small pittance of money for everything you buy using my links. I don't recommend things I haven't read/used, so using these links helps me out and gets you great products!


Positive Sum

When it comes to viewing life, resources, and opportunities, there are two prevailing viewpoints one can take: that of abundance or that of scarcity. When viewing life as abundant, we see endless opportunities for ourselves and those around us. We are inspired by others instead of put off by their achievements. In essence, we see life as positive-sum: the accomplishments of others increase the quality of life for everyone and create additional opportunities for the rest of us.

On the flip side, viewing life as scarce means that we believe opportunities are limited and that there can be very few "winners" when all is said and done. These individuals tend to be cynical, they tend to secretly hope for the failure of others, and they view life as zero-sum: someone else's achievements take away from our own ability to achieve.

Aside from putting a strain on relationships due to the constant perception of competition, living with a scarcity mindset stifles our creativity and innovation. If you are constantly putting the pressure on yourself to outdo others and jockey for position, this pressure can be exhausting. Burnout often happens when we compare our lack of progress to the achievements of those around us, believing that we should be further along and holding ourselves to an unfair standard.

One of my favorite stories is how Roger Bannister broke the 4-minute mile; at the time, this feat was considered physically impossible for a human-being to achieve. That is until May 6, 1954 when Bannister broke through this barrier for the first time. As amazing as this achievement was, my favorite part of the story is what happened afterwards: suddenly, competitive runners all over the world began to break four minutes on the mile.

Bannister's accomplishment inspired others to do the same. They realized that if it was possible for him, then it was also possible for them. This is the power of abundance and positive-sum thinking at work; had they focused on scarcity instead, they would have felt discouraged by Bannister's achievement and continued to fall short of their true potential.

Let the achievements of others inspire you. Cheer for their victories. The more you lift up those around you, the more you will find that your luck increases in turn. There is more opportunity in the world today than any of us can possibly imagine. Now, more than ever before in history, you can learn, do, and become whatever and whoever you want. Focus on this abundance, be happy for your fellow human-beings, and embrace a life of positive-sum thinking.


Hit List

The most interesting things I've read, heard, or encountered this week:

For more of the above: Celebrate the wins of others by Sahil Bloom on Twitter

We have discussed Sahil Bloom and his podcast in a previous newsletter, but this snippet was particularly inspiring when I came across it this past week. As mentioned above, I'm a firm believer in cheering for others and focusing on the abundance of life. The tweet also has a link to the full podcast that this sound bite comes from.

What I'm reading: The Outsiders by William Thorndike

This book was recommended to me on a recent VC call, and the person who suggested it said they gift it to all founders that their firm works with. For anyone who likes learning about business through the lens of those who've done it well, this book is worth a read.

What I'm listening to: John List on the Tim Ferris Show

This podcast episode is a great conversation with a leading field economist; many of you know that I'm a big Nassim Taleb fan and he absolutely despises theoretical economists. John List has "skin in the game" (as Taleb would say) due to his practical field studies, often performed at a time when they were seen as silly and pointless. One of the more interesting concepts discussed in this episode is the idea of a "clawback incentive" and how it can be used to motivate people.

A great twitter thread: Web3 glossary of terms by Misha DaVinci

I have been a huge proponent of blockchain and Web3, and am currently building a startup in the space. I'm always looking for better ways to "on-board" people into this complex field. This thread does a great job of highlighting common terms and concepts, giving them concise definitions.

A quote I'm pondering:

"[t]he greatest discoveries were almost invariably made by newcomers and the very young" - William Thorndike in The Outsiders

To expand on this quote, what fresh perspective can you bring to an area of your life that has "always been done" a certain way?


That will do it for this week! Please let me know what you liked, didn't like, and what you want to see more of. Do you want it to be longer, shorter? Do you want specific topics covered more? Less? Have a wonderful week, and remember to please forward this to your friends -- helping get the word out and get more eyes on this newsletter is hugely helpful and greatly appreciated!


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