Thinking is Hard, Let’s go shopping
Not only is thinking hard, but it’s actually quite risky. I’ve adopted a practice of working off-site a couple days a month. These strategy days provide some great opportunities for me to catch up on strategic thinking. Taking a few steps away from the details at the office lets me process what has taken place over the last few weeks and set a good short term strategy for the next few weeks.
I’ve come to realize though that in taking these days out of the office I’m actually opening myself up to quite a lot of risk. When you tell your co-workers that you are going off to think they typically have expectations when you return. There’s nothing wrong with these expectations. We should expect great things from our co-workers. But it’s an interesting side effect of the process, and honestly I think it causes me to stay focused. I make sure to collect enough articles that relate to our present challenges to provide plenty of fodder for the mind. I make sure that if the space I’m working in is not working I move. If the coffee shop is too loud I move to the home office. If the home office is too solitary and not stimulating I move back to the coffee shop. Sometimes the walk to and fro is enough to spark the mind. The key is not to get stuck. If you are stuck, get moving. You don’t want to return empty handed, do you?
What if you come up with an idea so brilliant, when people finally hear all you get is “duh”, or worse “that will never work”.
Not all of the risk is associated with other people.
We may also disappoint ourselves. Building up a big backlog of things to strategize on may yield nothing more than a vague notion, and a paragraph of illegible scribbles in a moleskine. It can be hard to acknowledge that you failed to come up with anything tangible and useful after 9 undistracted hours.
These are legitimate risks, but they shouldn’t prevent us from doing the hard work of thinking. A good balance of thinking and doing yields better results that doing only one or the other. Too much work without thought ends up with wasted or misdirected effort. Too much thinking without doing leads to Philosophy Degrees… (sorry, couldn’t avoid that one).
But do make time to think. You join good company.
Tangents of the week: Math is hard, let’s go shopping.