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11 June 2024

Thinking Fast and Slow

by Emmanuel Bakare

Ecclesiastes 9:11 KJV - I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.

Life’s outcomes are inadvertently decided by uncontrolled series of events entangled together, some outside our control as the stoics note.

A common notion I like to remember is that of the “butterfly effect”, some belief that tiny butterflies flapping their wings causes a tornado in some other part of the world. These delicate order of events align with the paths we have in life, like the pareto 80/20 rule; the minor actions can cause the biggest impacts.

I remember my dad getting me a laptop years back which I earnestly loved using. The hard disk crashed at some point and I needed an OS to use. That small event led to me running Linux and years later made a career for my life. Till date, the laptop never led to me getting into DevOps, the hard disk crashing did and that is the summary of this musing.

Tiny, indescribable events in the paths of your life will either make or marr your experience in ways you can/cannot control. In my case, the depth of running down the path of using Linux took time to grow into a career. Despite the life-changing event, it took years of careful planning and indepth study to get to where I am today.

I summarise this thought model in similar fashion to the book “Thinking Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman. The book proposes that there are two ways we make choices: fast, intuitive thinking, and slow, rational thinking. Fast and intuitive thinking is what makes the great executors, taking a plan from 0 to 100 in record time. The slow and rational thinking is what makes the great planners, seeing the world like a game of chess and pushing each piece as the board changes. It also goes into detail about our respective biases that influence our decision making process but that discussion is left for you, the reader to discover.

Surviving life effectively means having both. Being too slow will get you washed out with those much faster taking the pace. Being too fast will make you miss your stop on the way and go down a wrong path.

In planning for life, thinking fast and slow is one way to get ahead as the butterfly effects of life come your way. You cannot avoid the problems, the best case is to adapt quickly whilst slowing the pain and suffering to plan accordingly.

tags: musings - planning