A concept that I have begun to come to terms with more and more over the past few months is this idea that no decision can be made without a tangible tradeoff. You cannot always get X without needing to give up some of sort of Y. This is an idea that is easy to read and perhaps even understand but hard to actively think about in practice.
It is very easy to let our friend EGO get in the way of making rational, sound decisions. We get sad when we lose some of Y even though we know that these things are necessary to capture X. This paradigm, in my mind, is fundamental to understanding my own behavior. When I have high expectations, I believe that I am “making a good deal,” behavioral arbitrage, I am thinking that I will give up little Y to get a lot of X. When I have low expectations, I perhaps believe the opposite, I am spending lots of Y to get a little X.
Importantly, X and Y are not the same nor are they universal terms. Some things may be more important to you than they likely are to me. It is understanding the nuance, which things you are willing to give up for one another that makes this whole system rewarding. Internal consistency is a very hard value set to achieve, as most people waiver in the spirit of the moment and opt for the best x/y bargain.
These two quotes by Kobe Bryant are both really good…they showcase his willingness and understanding of tradeoffs:
“I have “like minds.” You know, I’ve been fortunate to play in Los Angeles, where there are a lot of people like me. Actors. Musicians. Businessmen. Obsessives. People who feel like God put them on earth to do whatever it is that they do. Now, do we have time to build great relationships? Do we have time to build great friendships? No. Do we have time to socialize and to hangout aimlessly? No. Do we want to do that? No. We want to work. I enjoy working.”
“Well, yes and no. I have friends. But being a “great friend” is something I will never be. I can be a “good” friend. But not a “great” friend. A great friend will call you every day and remember your birthday. I’ll get so wrapped up in my s–t, I’ll never remember that stuff. And the people who are my friends understand this, and they’re usually the same way. You gravitate toward people who are like you. But the kind of relationships you see in movies—that’s impossible for me. I have good relationships with players around the league. LeBron and I will text every now and then. KG and I will text every now and then. But in terms of having one of those great, bonding friendships—that’s something I will probably never have. And it’s not some smug thing. It’s a weakness. … It’s not like I’m saying “I don’t need friends because I’m so strong.” It’s a weakness.”
I am not saying most people should be like or even care about Kobe. They should make their own tradeoffs!
Also published on Medium.