Are you against learning?
Coined by Charlie Munger — billionaire and business partner of Warren Buffet — inversion is a way of reframing any situation.
He credits it with a lot of his success!
And as you’ll see, it can help you in negotiations, goal setting, improving your processes, and even in your day-to-day life!
It means flipping the question upside down and having you focus on the worst outcome…
Starting from the opposite end and trying to get back to the root of things…
Or defining the outcome you don’t want and then planning out the steps to avoid getting that result.
Inverted Goal Setting
At TCF, we have a tradition whereby we discuss the goals we don’t want to achieve.
Yep, you heard that right!
Aside from setting actual goals — quarterly OKRs and daily KPIs — we also meet up regularly and discuss why we’ll fail.
We call this 10 Reasons Why We Failed.
In this meeting, we go over all of the things we will have to do wrong (or not do at all) in order to fail a specific project… or at least not achieve the full success we expect of ourselves.
We write these all down, and make sure that we avoid them during the upcoming weeks and months.
And notice too, that it’s in the past tense — that makes the emotional pain of the failure more real and visceral!
People Don’t Like to NOT Agree
Another interesting way to use this psychological hack is when speaking to clients, partners, teammates, etc.
You’ve probably experienced that when you ask someone straight out if they agree to something, most people say no.
So, invert it!
Need to arrange a meeting with a potential client?
Instead of selling it to them with a “Do you want to have a meeting next week?”
Ask them, “Would you be against meeting next week?”
Need a testimonial from a client?
Instead of asking them to write one, say “Would it bother you if we used your testimonial?”
Charlie Munger attributes this simple tactic of inversion to much of his success:
“It is remarkable how much long-term advantage people like us have gotten by trying to be consistently not stupid, instead of trying to be very intelligent.”
So, as you go out into the world today, try to think of situations where using this tactic won't help you...