First Order thinking is simplistic, short term, single move, single player, linear thinking i.e. the “thinking” level most stop at. Second Order thinking is much more difficult. Second Order thinking acknowledges the complexity of a convoluted world of ripples, where every action stimulates a reaction that in turn motivates another action. A world where most games are multi-move, multiplayer that evolve over time and in multiple levels, many locations. You can chose your actions but you are often not free to dictate the multitude of potential consequences of those actions.

Interestingly, 1st and 2nd order (short and long term) consequences are often opposites: comfort food feels good short term, being heavy feels bad long term. Painting over rust looks great short term but is a waste of time long term. Hitting the gym or the books may require “pain” of discipline in the short term, health, knowledge, and self-respect in the long run.

Closing Quotes:

“Few minds wear out; more rust out.” – Christian N. Bovee, 1820-1904

“Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason why so few engage in it.” – Henry Ford 

“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” – Albert Einstein 

I’m indebted to “The Most Important Thing” by Howard Marks for the concept of “2nd Order Thinking”, his suggestions below to consider:

What is the range of likely future outcomes?
Which outcome do I think will occur?
What is the probability I’m right?
What does the consensus think?
How does my expectation differ from the consensus?

As always, I share what I most want and need to learn. – Nathan S. Collier