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International Generalist #12: equations for success, strategic daydreaming, & the importance of order

Unlocking success, harnessing daydreams, and unleashing creativity: a dive into the power of persistence, productivity, and routine

Dominik Nitsch
4 min read

Welcome to the 12th edition of International Generalist. Today, we’ll look at an equation to explain success, how you can daydream productively (?!?), and two authors’ thoughts on order and routine.

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Let’s dive in.

Photo by Saad Ahmad on Unsplash

[1] An equation to explain success

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”

Everybody that’s played or watched sports has heard this quote at some point. It’s a cliché because it’s true. If you don’t shoot, you won’t score.

An acquaintance of mine recently put this principle into an equation:

n is the number of attempts you take at something, p is the probability of success, s is success.

  • if you’re a founder, in order to have a successful exit, don’t just maximize your p, but be aware that it’ll take you several attempts in order to find success. The more attempts you make, the higher the probability
  • if you’re a ✨LinkedIn thought leader✨, the more you post, the higher the probability some of your posts will reach a wide audience (Dan Go has posted an average of 74 tweets per day since April 2020, according to Demand Curve. He now has >500k followers.)

As Elias states in his post, most of us spend time optimizing p to the last digit. The perfect sales pitch. The perfect product.

What we don’t do is increase our n.

Let’s apply the Pareto Principle: once you’ve gotten your p to 80%, focus on increasing your n by simply taking more shots:

  • Instead of crafting the perfect sales pitch, take your decent one and start calling your prospects.
  • Instead of building the perfect product, launch it and gather feedback.
  • Instead of trying to figure out the perfect business idea, take something you’re excited about and run with it.

As an avid Lacrosse player, naturally I wondered how this logic applies to my sport:

  • You can reduce your opponent’s p by forcing only contested shots (and having a good goalie)
  • You can reduce your opponent’s n by simply not letting them have the ball. The offense can help with this too by having long possessions.

This has been a recipe for success for my team recently. Great goalie + only contested shots + long possessions on offense = low n * low p = very low s.

Once we understood this, we started winning.

This equation only works if your p doesn’t suffer significantly when increasing your n. Otherwise, you’ll just have offsetting effects.

For the ones among us out there trying to work towards perfection: start throwing your work out there. You might just increase your chances of success.

[2] Strategic Daydreaming

Do you drift off a lot while you’re trying to focus?

If you’re anything like me, you’re constantly on, always trying to do something productive.

Your mind drifts off. You’re daydreaming.

This is the most normal thing in the world. Our minds need to daydream just like our bodies need to sleep.

If we don’t give them the opportunity, we’ll daydream at inopportune times. Just like our bodies will fall asleep when deprived of it too much regardless of the circumstances.

Enter: Strategic Daydreaming. The act of consciously taking time to daydream.

Try it right now: step away from the device you’re reading this on. Take a deep breath. And just don’t do anything for the next 90 seconds.

Watch your mind drift off.

Photo by Jonathan Mabey on Unsplash

You back? Wonderful. You just increased your future focus. Instead of daydreaming when you’re trying to do work, you’ve done it now.

Cool, isn’t it? Now even daydreaming feels productive.

Adjustments I’ve made in order to build this into my day:

  • Going on a 10min walk every morning without listening to anything
  • Using commutes to just look out the window
  • Taking a conscious break to just drift off

Counterintuitively, these are probably the most „productive“ parts of my day.

[3] On the importance of order and routines

„Be regular and orderly in your life so you may be violent and original in your work.“ - Gustave Flaubert

The most successful entrepreneurs, researchers & creators I know live a pretty boring, predictable life: regular morning routine, focused work, regular bedtime.

Or so it seems.

The magic happens in between. If the rest of your life runs on autopilot, all your focus may go into your work - regardless whether that is building a startup, researching molecular biology or writing daily. It allows for violence of action: anything you do, you do it with the highest level of intensity.

In design & architecture, form follows function.

In work, focus follows order, creativity follows routine.

As William Faulkner said:

“I only write when inspiration strikes. Fortunately it strikes at nine every morning.”

Action item recap:

  1. Increase the number of shots you take. (Pun … kind of intended)
  2. Take 90 seconds and just don’t do anything. Daydream strategically.
  3. Establish a routine that will allow you to be creative.

That’s it for this edition of International Generalist. Thanks for tuning in and reading!

If you enjoyed this, please ask yourself: which one person that you know would most benefit from reading this newsletter? The number one way to support me is to share this with others aspiring to become more effective in their personal and professional lives.

Who’s behind International Generalist?

I’m Dominik, and every day, I try to figure out how to become a tiny bit more effective. Then, I share some of the lessons learned here.

When I’m not writing, I build the international business for Sdui - the Leading European SchoolOS -, play Lacrosse, lift weights and enjoy draft beers.

Here’s how else I can help you:

  • Book a 1:1 meeting to discuss how you can manage your time better - please email me
  • Read the newsletter archive for more actionable nuggets
  • Connect on LinkedIn or Twitter for daily doses of insights
  • Send me a question, so I can answer it in the newsletter or in a long-form blog post

See you in two weeks!

Much love



Dominik Nitsch

Proud generalist: Entrepreneur, Athlete, & Writer.

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