Let’s face it most systems are difficult. Complexity and obscure connections to reality are the rules rather than the exceptions. Most are based on theory and some are based on practice ad hoc, a lose simulacrum of the real world meant to fit the observed data rather than explain it.
"In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is." - Yogi Berra
That quote just about sums it up. We all know that a theory can sound good, win the arguments and get you fully pumped up to implement then - failure. Either a failure to account for real world situations, failure to work or just a failure to stick with something because doing it day in and day out is hard. I've been there - I know.
Optionality is simple. It takes the birds eye view of the entire problem and lets you stand back and think, should I even be working on this at all? It won't answer the question should I run, jog or ride my bike today? Although it there are some baseline answers to such questions - more on that later. But it is stepping back one level and asking should I exercise at all? Now of course the obvious answer to this one is yes - but why? It used to be because exercise is good for you that's why. However, looking at exercise through the lens of optionality gives you a more complete picture. It is saying that the cost to exercise is relatively small - simply the time and effort you put in. But the benefit far outweighs the cost. I know that by doing 1 hour of exercise the cost to me will never be more than that 1 hour. But the potential benefits are huge: You can have a longer life, be more agile and better adapted to physical situations, have a better mood and improve brain function and sleep. All of this from 1 hour of exercise!
For me knowing the simple equation makes life quite simple. I know that if I'm on the positive side of the asymmetric equation then in the long run I'm bound to win. Life is going to give me more than I put in. It sounds greedy but it's not. That is how the universe operates. Is an oak tree greedy for releasing thousands of acorns each year? Of course not, it has simply found a way of harnessing optionality. One tree has the ability (however unlikely) of producing thousands of new trees every year. It's simply about harvesting grey swans - a term borrow again from the master Taleb.
So follow simple rules, "buy" convex options and don’t "sell" concave ones. If you fill your lifetime buying convex options, the slope of your trajectory will be continually increasing, and at an increasing rate. Don’t fret too much about how you’re going to do this over a life. As Mandelbrot showed in his book 'Mis'behavior of Markets, if you look at a stock chart of price over time axis, you'll notice that the chart looks the same whether you’re looking at the minute, hour, day, week or monthly time-frame. Thus stock prices are fractal, they are self-similar with respect to time. Analogously if you model your life by buying convex options hourly, then logically your life (knitted together with convex hourly options) will look like a convex option i.e. Known small cost followed by unknown unlimited upside potential. So in essence don't worry about having to perform in the long run, only concentrate on right now, on what’s in front of you. For we live in the eternal now, it will never be later only now. Don’t wait to start, start now.
Our lives, like trees are fractal. The right presence of now will lead to an entire life cut from the same cloth. The pebble is the same as the mountain. The spilled water running downhill the same as the amazon. The gentle breeze the same as a hurricane. The only difference is scale. So scale your life. Iterate the perfect form without regard for time, for time is just an illusion. For it is not time which defines the mountains of our lives, it is the pebbles.
All fractals are built using only simple rules iterated and iterated again and again. The simplicity gives rise to incomprehensible complexity. Once the complex patterns and payoffs begin to emerge and change your life, they are almost impossible to unravel and say with certainty the exact causes. However this doesn’t mean that they were caused by complexity. In fact all the complexity is caused by simplicity iterated over time. Our linear cognition can only process things in a 1+1 = 2 type of sequential logic. Optionality is different. It is exponential. As Steve Jobs said in his now famous Stanford, "that is only by looking backwards can we hope to see how the dots will connect. " Beautiful.