6 Comments
May 21Liked by Robert Yi 🐳

Love the diagrams!

Ego is an interesting one. I think that ego is really just a protective barrier around the sense of self. If the self feels weak, the ego comes in to compensate. I think this conflicts with your definition a little bit, as you seem to correlate the ego to the actual self. I think it's the projection of the self. So those people who project certainty with nothing to back it up are projecting from ego, not from the true self. There is always a part of them that knows the truth, even if they don't acknowledge it to themselves or others. In fact, I think denial of that truth is what makes them compensate so hard. It's hard to keep up a front.

So, if you feel less competent than you think you should be...that can be motivating, but it can also lead to self-delusion. Better to just be honest, as you say, about where your actual skills lie. Living outside of honesty — or in the gray area between where you think you are and where other people think you are — is anxiety inducing and quite painful.

And yet, the ego leads us on these trips all the time, trying to get us into places that we "should" be.

I think we should be more supportive and encouraging of people who are climbing their own competence curves. Positive reinforcement! Face-saving acknowledgement. Otherwise, we risk feeding their egos even more. A fed ego is a stinky thing, a damaged ego is dangerous. Best to try to bypass it completely. Vulnerability seems to be a good approach, there. It means we have to keep our own egos in check.

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I like this a lot. I wonder if I have the data-generating process wrong. Inflated/damaged ego is perhaps just a particular bad manifestation of an error in the core eigenvector, which is self-awareness. Really great point.

I think I also have a tendency to make these posts sound a bit judgmental, which also might make it harder to be vulnerable. Some good food for thought, thanks Joshua, as always!

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May 22Liked by Robert Yi 🐳

Hm...it didn't feel judgmental, but I guess a bit ...confident? :D

I think the stronger our convictions come across, the more we need things to be true. I would assume you worry about falling into this trap, so you're extra motivated to communicate about it clearly. Not a bad thing.

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May 21Liked by Robert Yi 🐳

Incompetency is actually a really interesting topic here. You might consider that being both highly skilled and incompetent is an unnatural state. Imagining simpler times when the world didn't change so fast and societies were less complicated, I think it was less likely for skilled people to rise to a position of incompetence. Its only with more complex societies and a certain level of abstraction between performance and outcomes that allows for incompetence to persist.

We should also consider that continuous learning is not cheap. It consumes resources and takes away from current productivity. Consider an athlete who is training hard to go to the next level. Over time, if they train correctly, they will get stronger and more capable. But in the mean time, their performance might suffer as their body and mind endures greater strain

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Excellent takes, as always, Gordon.

I wonder about the first point -- I would wager that whenever skill exists, there are always folks trying to imitate skill, so I'm inclined to believe that this just comes inevitably with the territory (just like with Batesian mimicry) and was always around to some extent. But there's certainly something to be said about complexity preparing a ripe breeding ground for this sort of pattern though.

I really love your second point, and hadn't considered continuous learning by analogy to athletics. The metaphor really helps me verbalize the exhaustion I often feel when I am "training" (i.e. overexerting my brain). And I'm sure many of the principles of exercise are transferable here -- you need to take breaks (maybe even rest days), you should probably track some metrics, etc.

I feel another post brewing.

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May 22Liked by Robert Yi 🐳

I tend to be a bit negative about this world we have built. Nuclear families, cut off from support and collective wisdom. Relentless materialism that is literally ruining the world. Maybe perpetually feeling incompetent is another challenge? I'm a big fan of continuous learning but is there also zen in just Being?

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