Reprogramming Our (Human) Hardware, Firmware, and Software

How many times have you wanted to reprogram a frustrating part of your brain? 10? 20? 200? How about so far today? Ugh. Here’s a helpful thought – what if we think about ourselves, as Daniel Jefferies puts it, in terms of hardware, firmware, and software?

Hardware is hard to change. I’m just shy of six feet tall and not terribly coordinated, so the NBA is probably out. But, I can get and stay in decent shape with some effort. Our physical reality is our hardware.

Firmware is a little easier to alter. I’m not great at math but I know how to be just dangerous enough in excel. Think of all the systems we use for broader applications in life (like mental models for thinking). These models and tools are our firmware.

Software is the easiest to update. It’s how we actually answer problems or execute tasks. I’ve got the attention span of a curious dog here – you can find me sniffing around obsessively one minute and barking at a shadow the next. Our actions, reactions, and activities are our software.

When we have a new habit or behavior we want to drive, it can help thinking in terms of hardware, firmware, and software.

What’s the physical limitations of the task? Do I need to learn anything new or forget anything old to do it? What immediate actions will move me closer or farther from my goal?

If you want to write more but freeze every time you sit at your desk, try going for a walk and dictating. If you want to study for a new credential, figure out how to fit it into your schedule and lifestyle to make progress. If you want to attract more talented people to your team, consider how you network and meet more talented people in general.

If we dissect a problem across these three levels of hardware, firmware, and software, we can figure out what we’ll need to do to get the results we’re after.

Daniel Jefferies is a fascinating guy. Listen to his interview on the Infinite Loops podcast, episode 44, “Questioning Everything.”

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