Elimination as Optimisation; Newsletter #26

4 Little Wonder Bites 💭

📖 Current Read; The 48 Laws of Power — Robert Greene

2 Laws from Robert Greene’s bestseller, The 48 Laws Of Power, to aid you in true growth and achievement. You can read more of my extended article here

I. Always Say Less Than Necessary

Judgement; “When you are trying to impress people with words, the more you say, the more common you appear, and the less in control. Even if you are saying something banal, it will seem original if you make it vague, open-ended, and sphinx-like. Powerful people impress and intimidate by saying less. The more you say, the more likely you are to say something foolish.”

Law 4; You must always say less than truly necessary.

Words are a dime a dozen, and often, we make grave mistakes when we would’ve been better off staying quiet.

Train yourself to speak much less, and prioritise choosing your words carefully.

The Risks

There are great risks associated with over-speaking, such as;

  • Making terrible blunders that could’ve been avoided
  • Exposing a great secret
  • Being laughed at and humiliated

The more you say, the more chance you have at making a mistake.

Not to mention that, if you say something particularly humiliating, there’s a great chance that people will remember it.

You can never take words back.

Action Points

In turn, we are led to the only solution; always say less than necessary.

Choose your words carefully, and stop yourself before you begin to ramble.

There are great advantages in saying less,

  • You learn more by listening — because you are able to take in information from other people.
  • You can observe more — Saying less gives you the chance to observe body language, and other actions that may have gone unnoticed.
  • You can think before you speak — by always saying less, you can be sure that you’ll choose your words far more carefully. This also will ensure that you never give out too much information.
  • You command respect — the person who only speaks when they have something powerful to say is always well-respected.

II. Disdain Things You Cannot Have

Judgement; “By acknowledging a petty problem you give it existence and credibility. The more attention you pay an enemy, the stronger you make him; and a small mistake is often made worse and more visible when you try to fix it. It is sometimes best to leave things alone. If there is something you want but cannot have, show contempt for it. The less interest you reveal, the more superior you seem.”

Law 36; Disdain the things you cannot have — show less interest and keep your stance of superiority.

There is no need to waste your time and energy on petty issues. It is especially awful to show open desire for the things you cannot have.

Sometimes, as Greene says, it is simply best to leave things alone.

Reveal less interest, and let these things come to you.

Where We Go Wrong

Too many times do we waste our energy on trivial matters.

Be it road rage, humuliation, or a train being late; we expel our time and energy on these things, getting worked up over nothing.

As much as, in the moment perhaps, it may feel good to get revenge and let out emotions, we need to keep in mind the later consequences, and the facts of the matter.

Getting revenge, and making the other feel the way you feel, is a terrible act, and rarely actually makes you feel better. It often serves to make you feel worse.

Wrongly, you may think that getting revenge is the superior act, but it is in fact the opposite.

“The more attention you pay an enemy, the stronger you make him”

Expelling all this emotional energy on a petty inconvenience only wastes your time and serves to make things worse.

Action Points

Rather than getting angry, frustrated and worked up over a trivial matter, there are two ways you can go about it

  • Show it clear disdain and move on with your life
  • Flip the script; turn the negative into a positive, and try to learn from it.

You have the choice.

Your emotions do not have to get the better of you.

Idea of the Week. 💭

Build Identity Based Habits

Earlier in the week I revisited James Clear’s bestseller, Atomic Habits, and took some notes on the key ideas presented in the book.

One fundamental idea that runs throughout the piece is this; build identity based habits.

Where We Go Wrong

There are two ways in which people go wrong when trying to build strong habits; they focus too much on outcome based habits, and spare no thought for identity based habits.

Outcome Based Habits

Many of us fail miserably when we try and change, as we have the wrong direction.

People focus too heavily on outcome based habits.

Many begin the process of changing their habits by focusing on what they want to achieve in the future.

They focus on the end goal, the reward, the victory in the future.

They think that if they alter the end results that they themselves, magically, will change too. This belief, of course, is wrong. A different outcome does not mean a different identity too.

These types of habits are outcome based habits; always doing things for something in the future.

There are a million problems that arise in basing your life in the future.

One clear problem is the fact that the future is not guaranteed!

You can form outcome based habits, but what is guaranteeing that you’ll actually hit that outcome? Nothing.

Lack Of Identity Based Habits

What we go on to discuss is identity, leading to another grave issue; most people don’t even consider identity change when they set out to improve.

Most people set out to improve, or change their lives, and only focus on the results and the things they want to change.

Without considering the core identity, however, none of it will truly work.

What holds these people, and therefore you, back are limiting beliefs.

When you fail to consider the identity, no matter what action steps you take, you still identify as somebody else, and that holds you back.

Consequently, not focusing on those beliefs makes them become limiting; it is hard to act if it is not in alignment with who you think you are.

That old belief, any old belief, can sabotage new plans for change.

It’s hard to change your habits if you never change the underlying beliefs that led to your past behavior.

You may want better health, but if you continue to prioritize comfort over accomplishment, you’ll be drawn to relaxing rather than training. The action of training doesn’t align with identity, although it does with the goals. But the identity is always stronger, so the training wont happen and the goal wont be met.

Focus On Identity

To solve the issues, and bring about change, we need to build identity based habits.

These are habits that focus on who we wish to become, not where we want to be or what we want to achieve.

These are habits that focus on you, and they target your core beliefs about yourself.

They don’t focus on the future, or on the actions you’ll take; they come from the heart of you now.

Behind every system of actions are a system of beliefs

Behind every system of actions are a system of beliefs. Otherwise, why would we act at all?

We have specific beliefs, about ourselves, others, the world, and that causes us to take action.

Whatever we inwardly believe determines what we outwardly do.

Behaviour that is incongruent with the self will not last.

If, behind every action there’s a system of beliefs, trying to do something that doesn’t align with the system of believes will rarely last. It’s incompatible; to act in a way that doesn’t work with your identity isn’t acting as you.

You have to change who you are, not just what you do and what you want.

True behavior change is identity change.

You might start a habit because of motivation, but the only reason you’ll stick with one is that it becomes part of your identity

When you are motivated by the fact that the habit coincides with your identity, you’re more likely to stick with it.

For example,

  • The goal is not to read a book, the goal is to become a reader.
  • The goal is not to run a marathon, the goal is to become a runner.
  • The goal is not to learn an instrument, the goal is to become a musician.

These identity based habits are more likely to stick, as they target the actual identity. Someone who sees themselves as a reader is more likely to read a couple of books!

Your behaviours are usually a reflection of your identity. Whatever and whoever you think you are is demonstrated in what you do.

The more strongly hat something is associated with who you are, the more likely that you are to perform it

In Conclusion

It is evident that outcome based habits will simply not grant you the success you desire and deserve, for they are insufficient and lack true foundation.

Prioritise identity based habits that come from who you are, your core persona. Make it personal.

You can read more on these ideas in my article here

Tweet of the Week. ✍🏻

“More effort is wasted doing things that don’t matter than is wasted doing things inefficiently.

Elimination is the highest form of optimization.”

This brilliant idea from James Clear has resurfaced on my timeline multiple times in the last week or so.

It outlines in a clear, concise way, how elimination is the best form of optimisation.

Wasted Effort

Clear outlines that ‘more effort is wasted doing things that don’t matter’.

There are things that simply don’t need to be done.

This applies in the world of work, academics, business etc. No matter the field, there are always pointless, time wasting tasks.

One of our greatest flaws is to direct too much of our energy into these tasks.

We waste energy, time, maybe even money, doing the things that don’t matter.

How To Decipher

How, exactly, does one figure out if a task is pointless or not?

Here’s a few questions to ask yourself,

  • Does it benefit the team, company or organisation in any way?
  • Do you have to do it, or can it be delegated?
  • Does it have to be done by you, any time soon?
  • Do you have the right skillset for this task?
  • Do you have the time, money and energy?
  • Will this task get you closer to your goals, or is it a distraction?


If you are faced with a task that wastes your time, and simply does not need to be done, work on eliminating it, asap.

By elimination, it regards completely removing it from your life.

Forget about it, delegate it, and move on.

If you ruthlessly eliminate distractions in this way, you will have the time and energy to dedicate where it truly matters. You are optimising for your own success.

Elimination is the highest form of optimization.

Quote of the Week. 🗣

Naval Ravikant on mindless entertainment, and how one must keep moving forward,

“If it entertains you now but will bore you someday, it’s a distraction. Keep looking.” — Naval Ravikant.

To end, here’s a question from me! ⚡️

How can you direct your energy and effort to where it truly matters?

Here’s a few questions to consider,

  • Does it excite me?
  • Does it challenge me?
  • Does it push me forward and aid with growth?
  • Will I regret saying no?
  • Do I have the time, money or energy?
  • Does it align with my natural skills, or will it help me build new ones?

When deciding whether to undertake a new project or task, ask yourself some of these questions. This will aid you in correctly directing your efforts

Thanks for reading!

Have a great week.

Sam. 😆



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Sam M

Sam M

happiness in all areas of life. student 👨🏻‍🎓. 2 weekly newsletters, daily stoic meditations + occasional articles and book summaries.