This week’s post is by special guest, Nootroponaut.
The big picture behind this article’s analogy could be applied to many other contexts in life. For obvious reasons, I choose supplements as the context.
What Are Small Effect Hunters?
Small effect [SE] hunters pursue goals and actions that mainly arise from spurious ideas and/or incomplete information. It typically occurs due to lack of research and thorough logical reasoning. This tends to led to hasty actions that push your goal further away or completely out of reach.
The Problems of Chasing Small Effects
Supplements allow those who want a short-cut to hunt SEs in a Sisyphean way. Usually a faulty “shotgun approach,” is used except instead of hitting their target, they delusively still chase SEs. For example, SEs hunters get excited when they hear statements like “this supplement will help you lose weight/build muscle/increase IQ” and waste money adding it to their pill stack. Chasing SEs might help, but at what expense?
Know and learn when to chase SEs to avoid wasting time, energy, and guap. I use the following metric. The further along you are in terms of mastery, skill, and genetic limits the more SEs take precedence. Even then, decide which SEs are worth pursuing from the standpoints of risk:reward, effort:reward, and of course, $$$.
To be clear, chasing SEs isn’t the same as chunking down big goals. Chunking has an end in mind with logic and structure that creates momentum. Chasing SEs give illusions of chunking, logic, and structure.
My point is, chasing SEs will only take longer especially if you are nowhere near mastery. Two reasons come to mind.
- You do get some small hints of success which trick you into believing that this is the right direction to pursue.
- You’ll probably try other “bottom 20%” solutions that have minuscule effects as well due reason #1.
It’s like trying to cut down a Sequoia with a bunch of folding saws because the saws are working. You waste enough time and energy. Sure it can be done, but there are more powerful ways to achieve your goal.
How Mastery Hunters Operate
Supplements also allow those who hunt/seek mastery to reach their goals with powerful efficiency and effectiveness because they are focusing on the actions that matter, in the order they matter. One goal could be knocked out with “one bullet.” Mastery hunters utilize both the sniper and the shotgun approach, but in the order of effectiveness and in the context they deem necessary.
Mastery hunters always ask themselves, “What action(s) will have the biggest impact on my goal?”
They are also being careful not to end up in a state of paralyzing analysis, realizing sometimes there are multiple paths to mastery and that:
“Anything worth doing is worth doing badly at first”
A mastery hunter will figure out what provides the most massive impact on the goal of X. An SE hunter persistently and continually searches, usually in vain for the next magic pill, rather than think logically and gather more correct information. Persistence is powerful, unless you are taking the wrong actions and moving in the wrong directions. Supplements, nootropics (and their effects) somewhat depend on the user’s mindset and habits, along his ability to leverage the two. Obvious right? However, someone once said that common sense isn’t always common practice.
Take home points:
A) Small game adds up, yes. But you are still hungry and soon will need to expend more energy chasing more of it. Chase some bigger game to keep you satisfied longer and mentally sharp.
B) Be careful of the “death by a 1000 paper cuts” approach to goals when there is a known way that is an order of magnitudes more effective and should be prioritized as such.
How do you hunt?