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Today I am N+1

Today is my birthday. 

I am one year older, at least at face value. This got me thinking about something I read a number of years ago on Fred Wilson’s blog called The N+1 theory. The basic premise is as follows: whatever it is, there could be one more. It is an optimistic viewpoint that emphasizes continuous improvement and change.

For example, let’s say you’re designing a building and you’re trying to make it as energy efficient as possible. You might think that you’ve arrived at the most efficient outcome, but in fact you’re probably just sitting at N. Stretch yourself. Go for N+1.

Let’s say you’re working out at the gym and you feel you’ve done as many reps as you could possibly do. Well, if you stretched yourself, you could probably do N+1. People who lift weights will also tell you it’s that one additional rep that counts the most. 

The mantra: Do as many or as much as you can possibly do (N), and then do one more (+1). The N+1 theory is a growth mindset. And if you apply this thinking throughout your life, I am sure you would see many benefits.

At the same time, one could imagine this theory being applied in a destructive way. In a relationship, for instance, is it healthy to think of your significant other as N, meaning that you should be looking for someone better? That N+1. This strikes me as an unhappy way to live. I would prefer to apply this theory in a productive way. 

Whatever the case may be, today I am firmly N+1. And I feel good about that.

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