Thursday, May 24, 2007

Gain and Loss 4: Thought and Action

Many kinds of gains require very little change in the world around and outside us. When I write things for this blog, I just get a kick out of doing it, out of learning from it, and out of people harassing me for not telling them I wrote something new (a good sign!).

But often times we need something to change outside us. Monetary gain is a perfect example. Thinking will not earn you an income, acting can.

Loss-oriented thinking impedes action. If you are worried about what you might lose by taking a certain action, you are guaranteed at least, that you will lose time, effort, and often comfort, to do so. So you are ensured that you will lose something at least. If you are unsure of whether or not you will gain, as you always are, the potential exists of losing and not gaining. When infected with chronic loss-phobia, this leaves people dead in the water. Inertia ovecomes them, and they do not act. And so, they do not gain.

Loss-oriented action is often overcautiously executed. All erring is done on the side of safety. This is generally for when inaction is not an option, or is so deplorable an option as to be considered to be a loss itself.

Gain-oriented thinking doesn't promote inactivity. All gain takes place after action is taken. If you are looking for gain, you must act. A gain-oriented thinker is a gain-oriented actor. The potential to gain is unlimited. Opportunities need not present themselves, a gain-oriented thinker will pursue them if none are readily visible. A gain-oriented thinker may even create opportunities for others in the process.

An interesting parallel exists with something I recall hearing from the author of Rich Dad Poor Dad. Robert Kiyosaki says there are three kinds of people who invest or plan for their future.

C-type Investors: Thinks about it, does nothing.
B-type Investors: Looking for safe investments.
A-type Investors: Looking for problems to solve.

In relevant sense:

C-type: Loss-oriented thinker
B-type: Loss-oriented actor
A-type: Gain-oriented thinker (and thus actor)

Although it is possible for people to fall into more than one of these categories by appproaching different subjects than investing in different ways, for instance being a C-type thinker, a B-type worker, and an A-type woman chaser (no doubt a common comination).

What substantially differentiates a C-type from a B-type is that the B-type has a lower time prefrence. They can look into the future and percieve loss, and so they act now to prevent it. The C-type looks only at the loss of the present inconvenience. Thus, C-types are called procrastinators and lazy and so forth.

So, which type are you? Can you think of any parts of your life where you might be a C-type, even though you're a B-type or A-type in others? If so, it just can't hurt to try to fix it. Libertarians need to be A-types. Statists do not.

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