173: Ozan Varol: Think Like a Rocket Scientist

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Leaping to a new S Curve of Learning™ can be an overwhelming experience. As we transition from being at the top of our field into a new and less experienced trajectory, our emotions and anxieties can get the best of us. Our guest this week believes science, specifically the discipline of rocket science, can help us better navigate personal and professional disruption. Ozan Varol is a rocket scientist turned award-winning law professor and bestselling author. A renowned professor, author, and speaker, Ozan writes and speaks often about creativity and critical thinking.

Continued below…

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He's authored many book chapters and law review articles, and now he has a new book: Think Like a Rocket Scientist: Simple Strategies You Can Use to Make Giant Leaps in Work and Life.

In this episode we learn how Ozan stays attune to his mind and body, sensing when it is time to disrupt. He shares how important it is to see yourself through a forgiving lens and discusses the importance of failure in the trajectory of success.

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  • Pay attention to disconnect and boredom. These feelings may be signaling something larger is looming. Ozan shared that in the past, these feelings started as a flicker and eventually prompted him to jump to his next S Curve. He understands that with personal and professional disruption, discomfort most often accompanies growth.
  • A confident yet forgiving sense of one’s self improves your chance at success. The minute you start considering yourself an expert on anything, is the minute you begin making decisions without gathering all the facts. Often people look at Ozan as a larger than life intellectual figure. To counter this narrative, he reminds himself that the real Ozan is a deeply and beautifully imperfect human. He encourages us all to look at ourselves with the same forgiving lens. Doing so, allows us to stay objective and learn from our failures.
  • When we expect a certain outcome, we can become disconnected from the moment. Often, the tunnel vision serves as a barrier to see the gift of the experience, regardless of outcome. Ozan expected a certain outcome after interviewing for a clerkship with Chief Justice John Roberts of The United States Supreme Court. However, had Ozan secured this clerkship, he may have entirely missed a pivotal point in his journey. Through his experience, he reminds us to be patient and present as we seek life’s silver linings.
  • Focus on what you can control and solve for what the world needs rather than what you want. Ozan reminds us that although humans are inherently fearful of uncertainty, we are highly adaptable. He encourages us to step back and consider how we might leverage our resources differently than before. Also, Ozan shares the imagery of life’s two way doors and exposes that more often than not, we can back track a decisions if it doesn’t work out.



Ozan Varol



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