A Gentle Introduction to MattKnee.com

Hello. I’m Matt Knee and I’m passionate about learning to do things better.

Since I was young, I’ve been a voracious reader and learner who has collected, according to Evernote, over 7,000 notes. One could say that I’m a “data hoarder”.

Now that I’m in my 40’s (and after a few health scares) it occurred to me that these notes will probably never be organized and some plans or ideas I have may simply die in my head. Perhaps they should die in my head but I think there’s a few helpful things I’ve learned that may help others.

There are so many problems in the world (and in most people’s daily lives) that it can sometimes be overwhelming just to ponder them. Frankly, to me, the world has actually gone quite insane in many ways.

Over the years, however, I’ve learned the hard way that while it’s important to know what’s going on in the world, you’ll probably be a lot more effective by working on yourself first, then helping your family/friends, community, state, country, then the world.

Think about it: If you can be a more effective person (healthy, energetic, clear-thinking, focused, etc.) then you will more likely be a positive influence on your family, friends, community, city – perhaps even a role model.

By being an effective person and role model you will probably be able to influence the world much more than by being an “online” activist, being outraged by the state of the world or constantly focusing on the news or all the problems that are mostly out of your control. At the minimum you’ll probably be a lot happier.

If we all took care of ourselves, families and communities to the best of our abilities (helping build better local institutions and education of course), we’d likely have more socially aware, resilient communities that are safer places to live that took better care of their environment, people and many other things. Note that the consistently rated best places to live usually have a well developed sense of local trust or “social capital”.

Keeping that in mind, these are the topics I will write about the most:

Personal Development. To be healthy, goal-focused and clear-thinking with a specific purpose and life strategy. To live a better life so you can be a more effective person. This includes health optimization, mental optimization, getting better at getting what you want out of life and creating systems to make these things happen. I like to focus on entrepreneurship or freelancing as a great way to follow your passion.

Localism. Much of what I see in the world in regards to improving things are based on “top-down” solutions where grand plans and ideologies are dictated from the global or national to the local. I’m starting to think this is almost exactly backwards as I wrote above. The far away will never be able to govern or solve problems at the level the locals will because they’re simply not familiar enough with the local issues and environment. Sure, try new ideas from other places, but don’t dictate to the local – that’s been disastrous to the tune of hundreds of millions of lives (see communism).

Improving Organizations. Our lives are spent inside of and dealing with organizations (governments, businesses, non-profits, little leagues, etc.) and humans have only been doing large scale organizations for a few hundred years. We’ve yet to encounter an immortal society, government or business so obviously we need to figure out how to improve our organizations while, of course, not allowing them to become completely corrupt or autocratic. Even democratic organizations are proving to not be as effective as once believed and different forms of governance should be explored.

Problem Solving, Incentives and Prioritization. Many of our people, communities and countries are so bad at the basics of solving their problems that I believe we need to get much better at actually identifying the root of problems. I believe a lot of this is related to increasing complexity in life, organizations and systems. Many times this is related to the types of behavior that is incentivized whether they designed it that way or not. In addition, there seems to be a lack of ability to properly prioritize these problems – we seem to engage more about minor things (flag burning, transgender bathrooms) then the major ones (wars, broken healthcare, etc.).

Specifically, we have some major problems at all levels from local to global (there are others, these are just the ones I tend to focus on) I want to explore (in no particular order):

  • Education. Specifically the lack of teaching any meaningful life skills or teaching people how to learn through adulthood. Personal development is almost completely ignored it seems.
  • Healthcare. We have incredible technology and medicine but the quality of care has been declining while the price is astronomical (in the US in particular, but costs are exploding and unsustainable pretty much worldwide). There’s obviously a lot of improvements to be made in this area without giving in to a completely free-market or government solution.
  • Addiction. Whether it’s food, drugs, alcohol or social media, our human systems are being completely disrupted from almost all sides. Humans weren’t adapted to most of this and learning new ways to deal with them is a priority.
  • Tribalization and Culture. Any casual browsing of the news or social media will show that many groups in our communities and countries are not getting along so well. Immigration, diversity of peoples and political differences only seems to be making these things worse so I think we need to re-examine our current policies on a lot of these things.
  • Governance. Related to problem solving, it seems that many of our governments are getting less effective, more bloated, more in debt and are falling further and further behind the private sector to the point where they’re being made almost irrelevant.
  • Media. Our media has become so inaccurate, so divisive and frankly, dangerous, that I want to explore better ways to be informed and not be manipulated. Sometimes I think the media is obsessed with provoking wars, riots and more.
  • Economic Inequality. First I think we need to re-examine the concept of inequality since it’s impossible for humans to be equal and that fact has given us some of the worst governing decisions in history (and many millions of deaths). However, the top 20% or so of humans are basically running away with the game (with the top 1% taking most of the winnings) and the other 80% continue to struggle. Almost all of our political problems come from this and it’s a really tough issue but I think we can do better in many ways without triggering revolutions and genocides.

Again, I believe any person who is not living what they would define as an effective life should almost completely focus on their own personal development before engaging most of the issues above full steam.

I’m certainly not perfect and have many flaws. But I’ve done pretty well in that category so I feel I have the extra bandwidth to at least think through some ideas and solutions to the problems above. My focus, however, remains personal, family, local action before anything.

So, welcome to my website and feel free to chime in on the comments. I’m happy to meet like-minded people.

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