“He that is good with a hammer tends to think everything looks like a nail” is my misstating the Maslow observation of “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” My thought describes a kind of confirmation bias as you increase your competence in a given area. Today’s Letter today is designed to highlight this human tendency and to propose a course of action that will increase the likelihood of success in all areas of your life.

Many of you are going down the path of specialization choosing to work in medicine, in the military, in ministry, in technology, etc. These specializations have their specific mindset that as you continue down that path will continue to mold the way you think. This isn’t bad, per se, it’s just the way it is. However, it can also be limiting. It can be limiting insofar as it can mold your thinking into the “accepted mindset” and prevent you from seeing “reality” as it is. Galileo famously got sideways with the church for promoting heliocentrism (sun at the center). Galileo thought broadly versus the church’s narrow thinking and was only asserting “reality” as he saw it, old model be damned (pun intended).

There are other paradigms throughout history that have been assaulted by new theories. Einstein’s Theory of Relativity destroyed the Classical model of Physics. In 1980, AT&T was declared a monopoly and broken up.  Every businessman I spoke with thought the decision was a travesty, as did I. Breaking up AT&T only ushered in the most profoundly expansive explosion of knowledge the world has seen since the printing press. The Baby Bells enticed an enormous investment of money into technology and this little thing called the internet.  Steven Jobs created a paradigm shift with the computer and phone. Throughout history men and women cultivated perspectives that ultimately clashed with the existing collective mindset. Certainly the examples above are significant historical paradigm shifts, as they stand out from the thousands, maybe millions, of other examples that history doesn’t record.

Your mindset will determine your success in life. Your philosophy on personal growth; your belief in the power of perspectives; your ability to harness your mind and attitudes all will be the springwater that nourishes everything you do. If you decide that a hammer is the most important tool in your tool shed, your future skill as a craftsman will be limited. You must expand your mind and explore other lines of thought besides your specialty in order to capture the most of what life has to offer. You should be at least somewhat familiar with a little Law, Medicine, Technology, Arts, Sciences, Literature, History, Politics – and Economics.

In my last discussion regarding personal Financial economics, Managing Your Money, I provided practical advice. The discussion was at its essence a simple statement to pay down debt before you increase your lifestyle and specifically the math on how to prioritize.  Hopefully common sense. You can augment this perspective with a terrific little book I read when I was in my twenties – The Richest Man in Babylon by George Samuel Clason (The link is a full length audio book!).

Here’s another great book that provides a broader economic understanding. Thomas Sowell is the common man’s economist. His book Basic Economics is a great and easy read about everyday economics. My definition of economics is it is the math of human behavior given the limitations we face. Having a firm understanding of economics is to understand “common sense” which is everyday logic. Being educated on the economic world (which is everything) helps you understand motives and markets, the cost of goods and the cost of time, politics and policy, and how wealth is created and distributed. From this base of understanding, you will be able to navigate your life with greater confidence and that your decisions are grounded in common sense.

These Letters from me are essentially my theories on economics. I am asking you to invest your most precious commodity – time – so that you generate a bountiful return down the road. You’ll generate a return on your investment as you will increase your ability to prioritize; gain more money as you discuss the many factors of your economic life; pulsate better health as you navigate your life’s priorities and the ebb and flow of your motivations; harmonize better relationships as you discuss the infinite factors of happiness and well-being; and develop a richer spiritual life as you debate the nature of God and reality. An Ironmen group offers you a magnitude of return on your investment of only 2 hours per week with 2 friends.

When I was in my twenties, I thought I was a pretty big deal, that I had all this enormous potential, that the world would come to know my name. Sound familiar? How will the world know your name? Don’t you have that potential? I’m sure you do, but you have to get at it. Consistent pursuit of a breadth of knowledge (not just information) is the key. And you need two guys to help you eat that elephant. Ironmen Group. (See any pattern here?)

Mental Economics is about investing your willpower and time. You will eventually conclude that there’s only so much time in life to create something worthwhile. Therefore you must choose. I encourage you to choose something meaningful over something superficial to focus your time on because your life screams with potential that you must fulfill. You must choose action over inaction because action, any action, will yield results, in time. You must choose faith over doubt because you’ve really got nothing to lose by moving forward with the faith that it will all work out. Therefore, choose now that you will take today and invest in yourself. Buy the books. Start the Ironmen group. Limit the internet and all the time suck. If you’re going to be good at hammering, choose this nail.

Choose life.

To your mental perspectives,

Dave Marr

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