10x Thinking and You

There’s a meme that’s been going around for a while now about “10x thinking.” Basically, it’s the idea of looking at something and figuring out a way that you could not only make it a little better, but make it ten times better. And it’s a kind of thinking that everyone should be going, although not in quite the way you might imagine.

As an example: suppose you had to make a 10% improvement to email. That’s probably pretty easy to imagine. A better user interface might make your email client more productive, or better spam filters might help. But what if you needed to make it 10 times better? You’d likely end up with something that looks nothing like the email of today, and that’d make you a real innovator.

But what if you’re not an innovator? Does 10x thinking still apply?


If you give a man a fish, he eats for a day. You know this saying, right? “If you teach a man to fish, he eats for life.” That’s a 10% improvement. What if you taught a hundred people? Apart from depopulating a marine ecosystem within two generations, you’d have made a 10x impact. You’re not fishing for 100 people; you’ve become a force multiplier and taught 100 people to fish. They can probably feed 1,000 people. So instead of feeding one guy, you’re indirectly responsible for feeding 1,000. That’s actually… let me get my calculator… 1000x thinking!

Look at the people around you. No, not the ones who’re smarter than you, or better than you, or whatever your Imposter Syndrome is telling you. The ones around you. The people at work, sure, but also the people in your home, your neighborhood, and your community. Where can you be a force multiplier?

This is the heart of the apprentice/Master message of Be the Master. Remember, Masters were primarily intended to protect and preserve the knowledge and skills of their trades by passing them on to apprentices. But one Master could potentially have many apprentices. They became force multipliers. Every village could have a blacksmith, rather than villagers having to travel for days to the nearest one.

This is how we improve the human condition. I’m not being dramatic, here. I’m pointing out that wealth, success, and happiness are locked up in two main axes: opportunity and skills. You can absolutely provide skills to other people. You don’t need to be an expert (Some blacksmiths couldn’t even make shields). You just need to have a skill that someone else can learn from you. Maybe you can’t provide opportunities for everyone, but if you can help pass along your valuable skills to others, then they’ve won half the battle.

Add 10x thinking to your daily life. Be a force multiplier. Start today.

About the Author

Don Jones is a well-known technology speaker, author, and practitioner, with dozens of books, years of magazine articles, and hundreds of lectures under his belt. He's also a business leader, and authors books on business, learning, and instructional design at Leanpub.com/u/donjones. "Be the Master," the third edition of Don's book on achieving success and helping others, has been changing the lives of people all over the world.