Self-review as a core component of high performance

A unifying feature across high performers in various fields, is a pattern of self review - high performers almost always have a framework or routine to re-evaluate decision-making ex-post.

At it's core, self-review is simply revisiting the decision as it happened, and looking for improvements that could have been made at the time. The fundamental question is: "Did I make the right decision? Why?". To extend it, you can layer on more factors - the correctness and breadth of your information, the psychological state at the time, or level of execution given the decision.

The study of game tape is ubiquitous in every sport played at a high level. The most typical thing a sports team after a game is to rewatch the game, breaking down key moments where something went wrong and could’ve gone better. There are many examples from basketball, chess, poker, and even e-sports.

Investment firms are also known for the rigorous post-hoc analysis of trades why they made them, and whether not is the correct thing to do with the decision with the data, they had it at the time. Bridgewater is an exceptional example of this.

In fields where winning and losing not as black and white, this post-hoc analysis becomes more difficult to do. This difficulty makes it 10x more important to do - it provides a significant edge over the average participant, which will compound over time - essentially a compounding return to skill.

As a basic example - consider what you said and how you expressed yourself in your last meeting. The line between good, great, and exceptional, is incredibly fine, often barely perceptible. But these are the reps that will compound over decades - identifying how are you could’ve have been exceptional instead of good in that moment is critical to long-term success. This applies to everything, from writing code, drafting emails, and even interpersonal relationships. One must constantly be seeking perfection.

But how do you do actually implement this? The most simple thing to do is to reflect.

  1. Take an event, a decision that you made, or some output that you produced
  2. Think about it again, with the benefit of hindsight
  3. Figure out what you could have improved, regardless how minuscule the improvement
  4. Note it down, internalize it, make an active attempt to utilize that improvement.

Only by doing this constantly can you be performing at a high level.