3 Valuable Concepts to Help You Avoid Critical Mistakes

Second-level thinking, multiplying by zero, and margin of safety.

Patrik Edblad
3 min readDec 1, 2022

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Photo by Anthony Tori on Unsplash

1. Second-Level Thinking

In the 1930s, the Australian government wanted to eliminate beetles that were destroying the country’s sugarcanes.

So, they released thousands of cane toads into their plantations, hoping they would kill the beetles.

But the toads were lousy at hunting beetles and excellent at reproducing.

So today, there are millions, if not billions, of cane toads in Australia1.

And they’re doing so much ecological damage that the government now classifies the toads themselves as pests.

Releasing them was a costly mistake that illustrates the difference between first-level and second-level thinking.

  • First-level thinking: These toads might kill the pests we want to eliminate.
  • Second-level thinking: These toads might thrive and become pests themselves.

The takeaway?

When you’re trying to solve a complex problem, think deeply about the possible knock-on effects of each solution.

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Patrik Edblad

I write about timeless ideas and science-backed strategies to feel great and perform at your very best. Get more from me at https://www.patrikedblad.com