Inner Scorecard: The Better Way to Become Better

Inner Scorecard

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Right before the dot-com bubble burst in 2001, every major news publication/investor was regarding Warren Buffett as a has-been. Everyone flocked to dot-com stocks in order to gain from the seemingly ever-growing pot of dot-com stocks. Buffett was vindicated when the bubble burst and people lost a significant amount of their investments, while Buffett went out and bought companies in the same time period. One of the principles that helped him believe in himself when others had given up was The Inner Scorecard. Warren Buffett’s biography, The Snowball, talks about his practice of maintaining an Inner Scorecard that helps him stick to his financial decisions.

“The big question about how people behave is whether they’ve got an Inner Scorecard or an Outer Scorecard. It helps if you can be satisfied with an Inner Scorecard”

Inner Scorecard: Quick Look

What is The Inner Scorecard?

It is especially important today to have an inner scorecard. With everyone scrolling past their friends’ lives on social media, it is only natural for envy to creep in. We stay up late at night scrolling through our feeds of other people’s curated lives trying to think of ways to live as they do.

Having an inner scorecard and sticking to it helps, at least marginally, to tune out the noise and confusion generated by envy or jealousy. An inner scorecard is a subjective scoring system or rules that you adhere to even when they seem counterintuitive to others.

A lot of intellectual minds have practiced developing and living by an inner scorecard. Besides Warren Buffett, Richard Feynman also believed in disregarding what others think and living by your own metrics.

“I thought one should have the attitude of ‘What do you care what other people think!’”

Jim Collins, in Good to Great, talks about the Level 5 Leader who puts the company’s goals before his. The leader is far from satiating their ego or seeking validation from the outside. Having an inner scorecard is one of the traits that help the leader transform a company from being just good to great. Read a summary of Good to Great here.

Importance of An Inner Scorecard

Let’s go over some reasons why having an inner scorecard can be helpful.

Set Your Own Goals

All of us, in varying degrees, have the tendency to base our life decisions on someone else. This could mean making decisions based on what your friends, classmates, or family do or recommend. These decisions need not necessarily be aligned with what you really want to do.

Out of fear or confusion, we stick to what feels comfortable without considering what would be ideal for us in the long term. Having an inner scorecard can help you stay true to what you want to do in the midst of all the (less-informed) recommendations hurled at you.

Remove Distractions and Noise

Looking at someone else’s life from the outside can cloud your judgment. You inevitably compare your life to theirs which tends to distract you from your actual goals and decisions.

Information Sources Infographic

Tim Ferriss talks about how reading multiple news websites or scrolling through social media can cause information overload in The 4-Hour Work Week. You can focus better on the truly important tasks if you cut out a lot of the information you deem “necessary”. Your inner scorecard can help you tune out the noise if something does not fit your end goals. You can better understand what tasks are important by using the Eisenhower Matrix. Having a clearly defined set of rules for yourself helps in deciding what needs action and what is not worth your time.

If you haven’t read The 4-Hour Work Week, read the summary of the book to quickly get all the main ideas from the book in one place.

Better Self-Criticism

Your inner scorecard is made for you and by you. So it can act as a gauge to determine the right decision. It can also help in evaluating past decisions and see if it fits the confines of your inner scorecard.

By constantly checking with your inner scorecard you can find out what went wrong in the past and develop appropriate corrective actions for the future. Self-evaluation and self-criticism can help you become more intellectually curious, hone your skills, and make better decisions. All this leads to developing a beginner’s mind which helps avoid being trapped by your own expertise.

How to Develop Your Inner Scorecard

So how do you develop your own inner scorecard to make better decisions?

1. Define Success and Anti-Success for Yourself

The word “success” is vague and subjective. Before you define your own rules and “scoring system”, it is much more beneficial to start with what “success” looks like to you. Your definition will probably change as you go through life and learn new information. Your definition of success will be the foundation of what rules and “scoring system” you devise.

Defining Success and Anti-Success

In addition to defining success, you can also define what anti-success would look like. This is a basic application of Inversion to realize what you need to avoid in order to be successful. Defining your own anti-success would involve visualizing everything that could go wrong and coming up with solutions to avoid each scenario.

2. Live according to your Values

Now that you have your definition of success, you have an idea of what you need to do and what you need to avoid. If you live within the confines of what you should engage in to be successful, you have a better shot at “scoring” better on your inner scorecard.

Living according to your values would entail believing in your decisions even if others put you down. This step requires you to develop a thick skin so as to not get bogged down by external factors. The whole point of an inner scorecard is to stay focused on your goals, believing in yourself, and make better decisions.

3. Saying No

Following all your passions at the same time is impractical. Realizing which passions to focus on can help you stay true to what you really need to do to live up to your definition of success.

One of the main objectives of having an inner scorecard is to tune out distractions. Besides distractions, you would also be swayed by things you are actually passionate about. When you define what success means to you, it is important to realize what you are passionate about and create a priority list of your passions. Sticking to those that help you achieve your definition of success are the passions that should require your attention.

Prioritizing Music Over Other Passions

If you are passionate about music and want to become one of the best musicians, you need to focus on tasks and projects that help you hone your music skills. You might have other passions and side projects involving graphic design or writing. Doing these would give you a sense of achievement and satisfaction but they won’t help you become the best musician. Saying no to anything that takes you away from your final goal would be counterproductive.

Besides your other passions slowing you down, other people’s priorities and projects can also slow you down. Instead of feeling obligated to say “yes” to all the requests that come your way, it is beneficial to put your priorities first and then look for opportunities to help others out.

4. Compete with Yourself

If someone has an outer scorecard, they inevitably compare themselves with others. Competing with others involves changing your goals and activities to fit someone else's life

When you develop an inner scorecard, your “scoring” system should include recognition of comparing yourself with your previous self to see how far you have come. Competing with yourself lets you hone skills and build on what you already know. It dismisses the tendency to compare yourself to others and live by their metrics for success.

5. Evaluate your Performance

The authors of Make it Stick suggest testing yourself and thinking about how you can improve a process or skill. Evaluating your skills can help you determine where you need to focus more to progress to the next stage. Evaluating your performance can be really beneficial in developing a growth mindset.

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