System -> model -> model -> System

What is the difference between working hard and working smart? I attempt to define that here. A very long time ago I read a Richard Maybury book and it touched on how the brain is attempting to model how the world around it works.

Being a curious person and always trying to sharpen my understanding I easily agreed with that. I built my strategy for accomplishing goals around this simple belief. The title of this post is a strategy I believe in, which is essentially common sense to me now. It goes as follows.

  1. There is an existing system I do not understand. It is abstract.
  2. I create a model based on my interactions. A model is a bunch of beliefs about that system.
  3. I create a model for how to best interact with that system. Synonym is strategy.
  4. I create my own system which will apply my desired model. Think routine, or long term planning.

For example consider fitness. The human body is the system. Too complex for me to fully understand with current research. In my mind I build an approximation of that system on belief at a time to create a model. For example that model says that I need food as sustenance and sleep to rework neurotransmitters and hormones. These are just a few of the many beliefs I have that make up the entire model.

Now lets say for example I want to get in shape. Based on my model of how the body works I need to create a model of interaction that will get me what I want. So for example I need to eat healthy or I need to perform physical training 3x a week. Well knowing what to do is great but doing it is another thing. Now I need to create a system that will enforce that model. So I start a workout journal, and begin packing healthier lunches or researching healthier restaurants, maybe I set a workout alarm or get some workout equipment.

Its easy to just overlook these things and say they are all kind of similar. But that would not be true. If you are attacking an enemy base you know there are soldiers inside(system). But knowing that the west wall is least guarded(model) gives you a strategy to attack there(model). However you failed to apply a way for recruiting and training soldiers(system) so your attack is rebuffed.

Imagine you have a well trained army but you attack at the south wall because you didn’t know about the west wall and still get your butt kicked. Really most people if not all people can take the model of the west wall being the weakest and create a model that focuses an attack there. The hard part is building the model of the foreign system and building your own system to properly utilize the information you have. Those take planning, patience and creativity.

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