Window-Openers v Door Knockers III

Keyhole-peepers, FOMO, and Decisions

Hey friends,

This week, let’s close this idea of ‘window openers’ and ‘door knockers’ that we talked about here and here.

To recall, life is like poker with uncertainty and luck. You take 100 correct decisions but still fail and take 100 wrong ones but still pass. That is randomness.

But we dislike randomness. We are window-openers and love windows more than doors. If you were on the savannah and liked to “explore” new areas just for kicks or fun, you’d probably be dead soon. Door-knockers who liked randomness died centuries ago; window-knockers who disliked randomness, survived.

Although we are window-knockers, we are still curious to know about our surroundings. If you were on the savannah, you may go to the same spot to eat your food, but it would be nice to know what was happening on the other side of the hill, wouldn’t it? At some level, it’s just satisfying — and powerful — to be “in the know.”

Going back, so far, I’ve made two claims:

  1. We are window-openers, meaning we love certainty and don’t love randomness,
  2. We are ‘keyhole-peepers’, meaning we want to know what’s behind the doors but not actually open those doors.

That is the problem. These traits of ‘window-openers’ and ‘keyhole-peepers’ cannot coexist. If you like to open windows and want to be happy, stop peeping into keyholes. Meaning, if you like certainty, then take a safe decision and move on; don’t have FOMO.

But if you peep into keyholes and want to be happy, then you should open those doors and forget windows. Meaning, if you are more of a curious explorer, wanting to figure out life by trial-and-error, then embrace uncertainty and randomness (that is, open those doors). You cannot have your cake and eat it too, that is, you cannot like uncertainty but dislike the downsides that come with uncertainty.

Simply, either ‘open windows and forget keyholes’ or ‘open doors and forget windows’. As Mark Manson says, “No, you cannot have it all.

So, what to do with this whole analogy?

The way I see it, I’ll close this series with this framework:

  1. We are inherently window openers, but we should actively try to be door-knockers.
  2. We should try to open many windows quickly, but open doors more slowly and deliberately.
  3. Windows are great for the short-run; doors are best for the long-run.
  4. In the infinite game of life, you will be much better off progressively opening more and more doors, as you grow older.

I’ll leave you over here… My idea was not to share a “solution” but to help evoke thoughts that are meaningful to you. I hope you enjoyed this 3-part series.

Until next time,


The Channel

Our Commonplace Book

  • If you’ve been wondering about building your foundations for a ‘good life’, I’d highly recommend checking out this article by Scott Young. Scott has deeply impacted the way I’ve approached productivity and I’m sure you’ll find this article (and a bunch of others linked on his website) useful.

  • If you’ve been curious about learning better and more deliberately, check out this quick little post by Tyler Cowen, one of the smartest gurus on everything.

  • I’ve been super into first-principles thinking and this was an excellent piece on it! In addition, check out the below video by Shane Parrish on the ‘learning loop’.

  • If you’re curious about what dy/dx really means, geometrically, check out this elegant paper :)