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The Law of First Principles Thinking

At DRYWORLD, we aren’t just retired professional athletes who are passionate about sports, fitness, and wellness. We consider ourselves thinkers, inventors, and disruptors. Starting out with our DRYFEET technology, partnering with incredible teams, events, and athletes, and slowly evolving the DRYWORLD brand, we’ve made our mark within the industry.

How did we do it?

It wasn’t until coming across this article from James Clear about first principles thinking that we realized we use this way of looking at the world of athletics daily when we create our DRYWORLD products.

That, and we’ve worked really f***ing hard.

“First principles thinking is one of the most effective strategies you can employ for breaking down complicated problems and generating original solutions.” — James Clear

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Let’s get into how DRYWORLD uses first principles thinking and how athletes can do the same. This is the Law of First Principles Thinking.

What is First Principles Thinking?

At its simplest, first principles thinking is the art of breaking down an issue to its most basic form and pieces. You have to think like a scientist. What do we actually know to be true?

There are three key pieces to this type of thinking.
1) Think about function, not form.
2) You can combine aspects from completely unrelated fields to create a new whole.
3) You have to be persistent in your inventions with lots of adjustments, changes, and iterations. That’s why point #1 is so important.

The example Clear uses in his article (and there are a few) that we liked best is this:

People keep asking where our flying cars of the future are. The reality is, we already have them, they just don’t look like cars. They’re airplanes.

The form—car—is what people are looking for. The function—transportation by air—is what we already have. If you get caught up in form, rather than function, you put yourself in an inescapable box that slows down your thinking. You need to think for yourself.

For an easier example of combining unrelated fields, take a moment to think about rolling suitcases. The inventor decided to put wheels on bags while lugging his stuff through an airport and seeing a machine being pushed around on a rolling skid.

By the way, another person who routinely uses first principle’s thinking? Elon Musk. “How do I build a rocket without the astronomical price tag of purchasing it pre-made?” You build them yourself at cost. Hello, SpaceX.

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What About DRYWORLD?

While we continue to use this type of thinking for all our products, the first was, of course, DRYFEET.

The problem: cold, wet feet.

The solution: Taking pieces from a completely different field (ie; rain coats, water proofing etc.), to create an entirely new piece of performance footwear for athletes that keeps their feet warm and dry in harsh outdoor conditions. We didn’t just build upon an old concept, we completely changed the game.

To this day, we use this type of thinking to design and create new products that will help athletes enhance their performance. You can do the same in your life.

How Athletes use First Principles Thinking

All of this is to say that you can use first principles thinking in all aspects of your life to become an original thinker. You can even use it to revolutionize how you show up as an athlete.

Do you think the first person to suggest dryland training wasn’t using first principles thinking? The problem: Athletes aren’t able to strengthen their bodies appropriately for a winning edge. The solution: Train beyond the sport. Find new ways to strengthen the right muscles and create an advantage during the game.

Or surfing, for example.

The problem: Ocean waves are constantly taking different shapes and forms, which makes progression incredibly difficult. The solution: Using the mechanics of a kid’s wave pool to create a machine that carves out perfect, adjustable waves for practicing specific surfing maneuvers.

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So, if you have something in your game that you’re struggling to overcome, try using the Law of First Principles Thinking to see if you can’t break down the issue into its parts and create an entirely new solution that allows you to persist, overcome, and revolutionize your fitness and performance.

“Optimize the function. Ignore the form. This is how you learn to think for yourself.” —James Clear

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