I have just finished the book A Promised Land by Barack Obama. In this book Obama detailed his rise from someone who couldn’t even make it onto the floor of the DNC Convention in the year 2000 to making the Keynote address at the same convention in 2004, to becoming president in 08 and through his first term. It is a no holds barred play by play on his life and the trials and tribulations of having the hardest job in the world.
In a 700 page book full of tall tales, anecdotes, some humor, and even more contempt to his opposition, Obama managed to offer an entertaining performance enough to muse me through the long read. However, I couldn’t help but realize one important epiphany: that information naturally flows to those who are best to process it. This is akin to how water tends to flow from high to low; also akin to how the world tends to more entropy. It seems a natural order of how nature works. Obama is a brilliant orator, sharp critical thinker, and an accomplished elite in his own right. But what he truly is, is a brilliant information processor. The job of the president of the United States is perhaps the most important information processor in the world. You can’t help but feel the depth and breadth of information that flows through him as he makes decisions that are life and death. In addition, much of the information are accompanied by advice from his most trusted inner circle that contradict each other. Obama detailed his thinking process of how he arrived at each decision. The sheer degrees of freedom on each consideration would overwhelm most. After the 700 pages, I have become truly in awe of his capacity as an elite information processor. But that is stating the obvious.
It donned on me that in reality our success is largely tied to our information processing ability. That makes sense. After all, we are in a knowledge economy, the commodity of this economy is information. But what isn’t obvious is that you can improve your information processing capabilities in all kinds of ways. For example, even optimizing how you make decisions on what to have for dinner based upon available information could in fact help you become more successful. We tend to work on areas that give immediate dividends. For example, learning a new skill can yield x amount of income, etc. However, working on being a good information processor in an overall sense will likely produce results across the board. What is more, as we improve our capabilities, information will naturally flow to us which creates a positive feedback loop of increasing responsibility with greater improvement. Nirvana!
So… let’s all be better information processors. Speaking of that, what am I going to have for dinner? Hmm….