Peter Bevelin is one of my favorite authors. If measured in the scale of page-for-page wisdom, then his books will feature among the best of the best. I like his writings because he organizes the contents around key themes. The technique of organizing based on themes is called as common placing. This is a powerful way to understand and learn things deeply.
His new book – All I Want To Know Is Where I’m Going To Die So I’ll Never Go There – contains 1827 excerpts from Buffett, Munger, and several other luminaries, which is organized around 62 key themes. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book and it’s a must read for everyone. On of my favorites in the book is a section on the importance of writing. I firmly believe that — If you want to understand something, write about it. Buffett agrees with my belief.
Librarian “Another ‘trick’ is to write – writing is a kind of thinking. Writing helps you to clarify your thoughts – because to write clearly you must first think clearly”
Buffett “If you understand an idea, you can express it so to others can understand it. I find that every year when I write the report, I hit these blocks. The block isn’t because I’ve run out of words in the dictionary. The block is because I haven’t got it straight in my mind yet. There’s nothing like writing to force you to think and to get your thoughts straight”
Librarian “Lee Iacocca said, “In conversation you can get away with all kinds of vagueness and nonsense, often without even realizing it. But there’s something about putting your thoughts on paper that forces you to get down to specifics. That way, it’s harder to deceive yourself – or anybody else.”
Buffett “I learn while I think when I write it out. Some of the things, I think I think, I find don’t make any sense when I start trying to write them down and explain them to people … And if it can’t stand applying pencil to paper, you’d better think it through some more.”
If writing is not your cup of tea then Munger has a solution for you. It’s called as Orangutan theory — If a smart person goes into a room with an orangutan and explains whatever his or her idea is, the orangutan just sits there eating his banana, and at the end of the conversation, the person explaining comes out smarter. If you can’t write then assume that you are explaining the concept to an orangutan. This will definitely improve your understanding.