Code of an extraordinary mind - Book Notes

Note: Whenever I read any book, I take notes to make sure I don't miss or forget its key learnings. These notes are a way for me to come back and read them to refresh them in my mind. I hope you find it useful as well

Link to book - Code of an extraordinary mind

Although the book is written in a very salesy way but it is worth reading once for the ideas it has mentioned.

Chapter 1 & 2 talks about how we should question the rules of the world we live in.

When you grow up, you tend to get told that the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family life, have fun, save money. That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact. That is—everything around you that you call life was made up by people no smarter than you. And you can change it. You can influence it. . . . Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again. —STEVE JOBS


Our language shapes what we “see.”

Did the color blue exist in ancient cultures?

Researcher Jules Davidoff studied this question among a particular tribe called the Himba, in Namibia. The Himba have many different words for green but no word for blue. Thus, when they were shown a matrix filled with green and blue colors, people of Himba tribe weren’t able to see that blue color exists.

Law: Transcend the current cultures. Extraordinary minds are good at seeing the current culture and are able to selectively choose the rules and conditions to follow versus those to question or ignore. Therefore, they tend to take the path less traveled and innovate on the idea of what it means to truly live.

Five ways we believe in Bullshit rules

  1. Childhood Indoctrination We absorb most beliefs uncritically as children during our extremely long maturity period.

  2. Authority Figures The men and women of our tribe whom we see as authority figures, usually people we depend on in some way, are powerful installers of rules.

  3. The Need to Belong We have a tendency to take on Brules because we want to fit in. We’re a tribal species, evolved to find security and kinship with each other in groups.

  4. Social Proof

  5. Our Internal Insecurities we start to create meaning around simple events.

Law: Question the Bullshit rules.

Dean Kamen is a modern-day Edison. He holds more than 440 patents.

As a great proponent of alternative energy, Dean wanted to build a wind turbine on North Dumpling Island, his home a few miles off the coast of Connecticut, to help power his house. But New York bureaucrats (even though it’s close to Connecticut, the island is actually part of New York’s jurisdiction) said the proposed turbine was too big, and the noise would disturb the neighbors. “It’s an island,” said Dean. “There are no neighbors!” The bureaucrats wouldn’t budge. It was a stalemate. Dean Kamen is not a man who backs down. As he told us, he was seriously bothered that New York State, which was miles away from North Dumpling, had the power to tell him how to run his island. So Dean decided that he would take no more. Speaking to a friend of his at Harvard who was an expert on constitutional law, Dean found a loophole that allowed him to secede—not just from New York but from the entire United States. And so on April 22, 1988, the New York Times carried an article: “From Long Island Sound, A New Nation Asserts Itself.”

New York didn’t relent. Its bureaucrats continued sending warning letters to Dean about the wind turbine. Dean simply sent those letters to the New York press with a statement: “See how disrespectful New York bureaucrats can be—they dare threaten the head of an independent nation-state.” The warning letters stopped.

Extraordinary people think differently, and they don’t let their society’s Brules stop them from advocating for a better world for themselves.

Exercise: How to identify a Bullshit Rule?

Question 1: Is it based on trust and hope in humanity?

Is the rule based on the idea that human beings are primarily good or primarily bad? If a rule is based on negative assumptions about humanity, I tend to question it.

Always have faith and trust in humanity. I like to remember Gandhi’s words: “You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.”

Question 2: Does it violate the Golden Rule?

The Golden Rule is to do unto others as you would want them to do unto you. Rules that elevate some while devaluing others are suspect as Brules—such as rules that grant or restrict opportunities based on skin color, sexual orientation, religion, nationality, whether a person has a penis or a vagina, or any other arbitrary or subjective criteria.

Question 3: Did I take it on from culture or religion? Is this a rule or a belief that the majority of human beings weren’t born into believing?

Culture is meant to be ever-evolving, ever-flowing—in a way, just like water. Water is most beautiful and useful when it’s moving—it creates rivers, waterfalls, the waves of the ocean. But when water becomes stagnant, it becomes poisonous. Culture is like water. If it’s stagnant, as in the case of dogma or the rules of fundamentalist religion, it can be poisonous.

Question 4: Is it based on rational choice or contagion? Are you following a rule because it was installed in you during childhood?

Question 5: Does it serve my happiness?

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma—which is living with the results of other people’s thinking.

Law: Practice consciousness engineering. Extraordinary minds understand that their growth depends on two things: their models of reality and their systems for living.

Strange Lessons from the Amazon Rain Forest

A boat ride, a hike, and several hours later, we were at Tingkias, a village belonging to a family of the Achuar tribe.

Here we would spend the next five days, living life in a radically different culture where many of the norms of human civilization—from how we sleep to how we care for our bodies to how we drink water or worship a higher power—were completely challenged.

Lesson 1: Our Models of Reality Are Programmed by the World We Grew Up In

We assume that all human beings drink water. You might even consider that it’s an absolute truth. But the Achuar have evolved a brilliant hack for the fact that there’s no clean water in the Amazon.

The women harvest, boil, and mash yucca roots and then repeatedly chew and spit the chewed-up root into a bowl. They mix this combo of yucca and saliva with pond water and leave it for several days. The mixture ferments, yielding alcohol, which kills the bacteria. What you end up with isn’t water, but chicha, a beer of sorts, made from the fermented spit of the tribeswomen. Every woman has her own brew, which she makes for her husband (men can have more than one wife) and children. Every woman’s brew tastes different, based on the taste of her saliva. The women spend hours each day chewing and spitting to make chicha while the men go hunting. It’s a big job, since this is all that the tribe drinks.

What we see as our culture is really nothing more than a quirk of history. It’s not necessarily right or wrong. Just like the Achuar way of living isn’t right or wrong. Our culture is the result of thousands of years of ideas emerging, clashing, and dissolving, battling for dominance.

Our culture wasn’t created by pure rational choice. In many ways it took form merely by imitation and chance.

Lesson 2: Our Models of Reality (Good or Bad) Determine Our Systems for Living The Achuar don’t have a model of reality for God in the way that most humans beings do. Instead, they believe that animals and plants possess human souls and that these souls have the ability to communicate through language and signs. To communicate with this world, they drink ayahuasca (a natural plant-based drug) that induces vivid visions and metaphysical experiences.

The beliefs of the Achuar in the spirit of the forest led to their system for experiencing the divine through ayahuasca.


Most of us have our own versions of disempowering beliefs. Beliefs about the way we look, about our relationship with money, about our self-worth. These beliefs can come from unexpected sources: a bullying teacher, overhearing a conversation between parents or other authority figures, or the attention (or lack thereof) from people we’re attracted to. As we believe these things to be true, they become true.

Law: Rewrite your models of reality.

I once asked an author, “What’s the single biggest piece of advice you could give a parent?” She said this: “No matter what you do, in any situation with your child, ask yourself, What beliefs is my child going to take away from this encounter? Will your child walk away thinking: I just made a mistake and I learned something great or I’m insignificant?”

Her advice is, at the end of any situation like that, ask your child, “Billy, what happened? What was the consequence? What can you learn from this?”


Exercise: The “What I Love about Myself” Exercise Think about a quality or an action of yours that made you proud today. Maybe nobody else told you that they appreciated it, but it’s time that you affirmed it for yourself. Think about what it is about you as a human being that you can love.

EXTRAORDINARY PEOPLE DISCOVER EXTRAORDINARILY EFFECTIVE SYSTEMS There’s a three-step method for effectively upgrading your systems for living:

  1. THE DISCOVERY PROCESS. Awareness is the essence of discovery. Every now and then, stop doing and gather some research.

  3. SET POINTS AND MEASUREMENT. Set points are non negotiable bottom line which makes sure that when that happens, you’ve got to focus on that area of your life.


Staying happiness is core to be able to transform your inner world and bend your reality.

There are three distinct types of happiness.

  1. Happiness from Special and Unique Experiences - Happiness from unique experiences is a kind of short-term happiness—but it can’t be the only kind.

  2. Happiness from Growth and Awakening

  3. Happiness from Meaning

How to be happy?

System 1: The Power of Gratitude

Think about: Three to five things you’re grateful for in your personal life Three to five things you’re grateful for in your work

System 2: Forgiveness

Create a vision for your life

Create End Goals; and not just means goals.

A good end goal is something you have absolute control over. No object or person can take it away from you.

Have goals. But your happiness should not be attached to the completion of your goals.

The 3 most important questions you can ask for creating end goals -

  1. What experiences do you want to have in this lifetime?
  2. How do you want to grow?
  3. How do you want to contribute?

Be unfuckwithable. Extraordinary minds do not need to seek validation from outside opinion or through the attainment of goals. Instead, they are truly at peace with themselves and the world around them. They live fearlessly—immune to criticism or praise and fueled by their own inner happiness and self-love.


Exercise 1: The Person in the Mirror (for Creating Self-Love)

Kamal Ravikant tells the story in his remarkable little book “Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends on It”. One of Kamal’s techniques is for you to look at yourself in the mirror and say the words, “I love you.”

Kamal suggests you do this every day. It should be a regular practice like going to the gym.

Exercise 2: Self-Gratitude (for Appreciating Yourself) Make it a point to do the “What I Love about Myself” exercise we talked about in Chapter

Simply think about what it is about you as a human being that you love.

Exercise 3: Becoming Present (to Remove Sudden Fear and Anxiety)

Be present. I took my attention away from the fears and worries. Instead, I focused on the leaves of the plant on the restaurant table before me. I noticed the subtle veins running through the leaves, observed the sunlight falling on the green surfaces, and used my fingers to feel the texture and pliability of the stem. In one minute, I felt as if I had just popped a relaxation pill. Everything went almost back to normal.

Two types of growth

Kensho is growth by pain. Satori is growth by awakening. Kensho is a gradual process that often happens through the tribulations of life. A relationship breaks up, but you learn from it and your heart becomes more resilient. You lose a business, but you use the hard-earned wisdom to start your next one.

Kensho is the universe giving you tough love.

In contrast, Satori moments are big insights that happen suddenly and change you forever. They can happen anytime, anywhere—while you’re out in nature, listening to music or seeing inspiring art, holding hands with a loved one, quietly contemplating, or being in a personal growth situation, such as with a therapist, teacher, or healer.

Written on September 3, 2020

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