Window-Openers or Door-Knockers

How we can manage risk and uncertainty

Hey friends, I really like the question -- Are you a door-knocker or a window-opener?

Door-knockers are people who go about life opening secret doors.

The idea is that you don't know what's behind a door, and you can't peep. You have to open the door to see what's behind.

Window-openers are people who go about life because they see what's ahead.

The idea is that you can clearly see what's outside of a window. All you need to do is to open the window and jump out.

Last week, one of my close friends and I had a 2-hour chat about something related and this idea struck me.

This week, I want to share some budding thoughts on this topic.

Most things in life are random, and we try to manage the risk that comes with this randomness.

One way to manage risk is conservative - simply, buy insurance. Here, there is no downside and limited upside. If you damage your car, you can rest assured that you will recover most of the car's value.

Another way to manage risk is more aggressive - invest in stocks. Here, however, there is both unlimited downside and upside. You could lose all your money in stocks or you could be a billionaire.

The lesson for me was that buying insurance is only one of the many ways to manage risk, not the only way. Meaning that if you have 'insurance-dominated' thinking, you'll be a window-opener, always checking the boxes, making sure that you don't "lose."

And if you have 'stock-dominated' thinking, you'll be a door-opener, always exploring new avenues, and you will end up winning big or losing big.

The idea, though, is not that being a door-knocker is better than a window-opener.

The idea is to have a healthy combination of both insurance and stock mindsets, so that you can choose the game you play.

For example, if you're good at singing but you want a career in engineering (because that's what everyone is doing), you probably have an insurance-mindset. You fear that you will lose it all if you invest your time in only singing, so you think it's better to do what everyone else does: engineering. The problem with this is that you are picking not your own game, but somebody else's game. And when you do that, you are in competition. But having an insurance-mindset and competing with others is likely a recipe for eventual failure.

Similarly, if you're good at singing but you only want to sing without any fallback option, you have a stock-mindset. Sure, here, you are picking your own game, but you risk losing it all, just in case you don't make it in singing.

Hence, the idea is to have a healthy mix of both mindsets so that, at times, you're a window-opener, and at other times, you're a door-knocker.

Be both.

Until next time,


The Channel

The Podcast

This week, we published two episodes in a new format of podcasting that we’re trying out! I call it ‘Audio Diaries’, which is the idea of what if podcasts were in the 1800s?

Catch Part 1 and Part 2 on Non-Verbal Communication on Spotify, Google, Apple, or the website.

Our Commonplace Book

  • I really loved reading this post on Brainpickings about ‘What Makes a Great Person and What Wisdom Really Means.’

  • How to think is probably an underrated skill, and hence, I’d recommend this post on Farnam Street, to develop our thinking skills.

  • Kurzgesagt never fails to amuse me. This video is an absolute treat to watch, because it feeds into you both a sense of triviality and grandiosity at the same time.

  • I loved this Twitter thread to find more such cool explainer videos :) Enjoy!