How to Fly Longer, Further, Faster

There is this important concept from Taleb’s work. It’s what he calls Lecturing Birds How to Fly. This stands for the idea that some believe that the research and published papers of the ornithologist are responsible for birds being able to fly. Of course, the birds didn’t need a lecture, and I am almost certain they never read any of the published papers, even if it was what lined their cages.

This is why practitioners are more interesting than researchers (even those who produce exceptional works worth studying). The practitioners learn by doing, and so their knowledge is different. The practitioner needs to succeed, not to publish. Nor is the practitioner often compelled to teach others, except maybe those who are close enough to learn from example and by adopting the beliefs and behaviors.

When a practitioner does decide to publish what they have learned and what they actually do, it’s worth taking note (even if some of the narrative has the benefit of being written after the fact to serve to teach certain lessons).

Taleb, for example, was a derivatives trader who made bets on Black Swan events, those events that have very little chance of ever happening, and when they do, the results are catastrophic. His success depended on his deep understanding of options and fragility. This makes his work worth reading.

Bloom used cultural evolution and memetics to drive the careers of many of rock-n-roll’s legends, with a list too large to include here, but think Prince, Michael Jackson, and Aerosmith. His view as to how ideas spread is second to none.

Dalio’s work on principles is a one-of-a-kind, provocative, tour de force on how to think about—and live by—your principles. It is the most inspiring work I have read in a long time, especially if you take his challenges to heart.

These are practitioners. These are people who are writing from their own personal knowledge and understanding. None of what you read here will teach you to fly, but they will help you fly further, longer, and faster than you do presently, even if there are no research papers referenced.

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