August 3, 2020

Reconaissance Man

Short, easy to read, primarily designed and written for those under eighteen in the US, although applicable to anyone questioning their career. The author shares his regrets of going to college and unquestioningly following a common life script before finally rewriting it. He shares a proposed solution to what he perceives as a common problem in the US (and I’d say globally). 

I’ll sum a few key points (mixed a little with mine):
(1) The traditional life script is: school, college/university, buy a house, work for 30 years to pay off a mortgage, retire at 65 surrounded by children & grandchildren. A lot of snippets of advice you receive are tailored and given based on the script, even though it may not be explicitly mentioned. Thus a lot of life advice you might receive may simply not be relevant to you. 

(2) When you’re young, you’ve spent most of your life in the context of a naive childhood, so there’s no way you’re in a position (given experience, self-knowledge, wisdom) to pick and commit to one costly (monetary & time-wise) path, e.g., a four year degree followed by many years of trying to climb a specific corporate hierarchy. Don’t wed yourself to a career you’re naive 17 year old self chose for you.

(3) Seek to start answering some fundamental questions of self-knowledge, e.g., who do I want to be, what do I want to do, where do I want to live, by going out into the world, travelling, trying things (jobs, work), looking for new places to live. Take low-risk, low-commitment actions (college/university is definitely not that). The price of taking time off to “figure things out” is less than the price of unrecoverable life regret. 

(4) Educate yourself philosophically & entrepreneurially.

(5) Environment is essential. It will shape who you are. Don’t pick where you live simply based on convenience. Put more thought into it. Theoretically in the right environment you’re even more likely to find love since there are more like-minded people with similar passions and interests.  

Structural Outline

Who Should Read This 

  • Primarily for people under eighteen, but consolation or last potential last minute salvation for 30s and over.

Part I – Philosophy

  • A look at the author’s own life and the mistakes he made: laying down roots out of convenience, going to college/university, listening to the advice of his elders, and committing to a single path he decided when he was young and naive.
  • Roots once planted are hard to uproot and continue hardening over time.
  • The solution is to change the way you approach those decisions that fundamentally shape your life, e.g., the conscious choice of where to live. To change that simply explore different environments and find the one that suits you best.

(1) Cart before the horse

  • Traditional life script: school, college/university, buy a house, work for 30 years, save & invest, retire at 65 surrounded by children & grandchildren. Consequently, life advice is tailored around this script. This is flawed because it’s universal advice and not applicable to every individual.
  • The fact is someone young has mostly lived their life in the context of a naive childhood, not adulthood, and there’s no way they can have the experience, self-knowledge and wisdom to pick and commit to one costly pursuit one life-long career. 
  • Commit to discovering the world and yourself, to self-knowledge, by going out and trying things and seeing new places. 
  • Seek to formulate an answer three fundamental questions: who am I? what do I want to do? where should I live?
  • The fear of “falling behind” to “figure things out” is unfounded. The one or two or whatever years you take to “figure things out” is nothing compared to the massive amount of life you’ll waste otherwise: the price paid for mindlessly embarking down unquestioned and unclarified life scripts is unrecoverable life regret. 

(2) What is ‘reconnaissance?’

  • The guiding principle is to lay out foundations for your future life as early and accurately as possible by seeking answers to questions of self-knowledge through exploration of places and jobs and through travel. Some questions to answer are the three fundamental questions & things like who would I like to become and what do I want to achieve before I die.
  • A lot of emphasis on the environment you’re in. It’s one of the most important parts. The environment determines the people in your life, and over time your day-to-day living in that environment will ultimately determine who you are. If you’re in the environment it’s more likely for everything else to align and work for you: even your chance of finding love is improved since theoretically in the right area there will be more like-minded people with similar passions & interests.
  • Framework for ‘reconnaissance:’  (1) survey places of interest with the goal of simply being able to answer where you definitely do not want to live & keeping an eye out for what emotionally attracts and repels you; (2) focus on a few areas and spend more time in each; (3) narrow it down even further and spend a longer period in one.

Part II – Practicum
(3) Logistics, Finance, & Education

  • Covers logistics, financing, etc. (primarily relevant to young people in the US).
  • Types of education you should seek out: philosophical, entrepreneurial, employment. 
  • Philosophical education creates mental foundations that mold you.

(4) Psychological Hurdles
(5) Familial Hurdles
(6) Where to Recon

  • Some suggestions for screening criteria , e.g., climate, taxes, economic opportunities, scenery, presence of a metropolitan center, etc.
  • Advice and guidance specific to the US
Posted in Book Summaries