Thinking is a Pretty Good Thing to Do

My first job out of college was working for an electronics company designing new to the world products. I was at my desk one day staring at a circuit board when my boss walked up and asked what I was doing. 

I said I was struggling with how I was going to move electrical current between two large capacitors without burning up the transistors in between. I added that I was thinking about the best way to go about it without adding unnecessary complexity to the circuit board.

His reply was instantaneous and abrupt. He told me “you’re not paid to think, you’re paid to work.” 

I guess he wasn’t all that familiar with how the design process worked. But thinking is actually a good thing to do no matter the situation. Most people know that. Most people also invest very little time in actually thinking. They claim to not have time. 

We live in a time where information is coming at us at all times from every source and direction imaginable. It never stops. We’re also told that successful people maximize every second for the sake of productivity. 

But we’re seldom told what the absolutely most successful people do. The most successful people set aside time almost every day to sit and think. Sit quietly and alone to just think. 

They know that life is cause and effect. They know that their decisions are their keys to success. So they make “think time” a priority. They think through all big decisions, they consider the consequences of the consequences of the consequences of their decisions. 

Highly successful people outthink the average person. It’s not necessarily because they are smarter it’s because to set aside time to truly think. They don’t care if some average person calls it daydreaming. They don’t care if someone calls them a slow thinker. They will not be deterred by people less successful than them. 

Maybe you need to think about thinking a little more because thinking is a pretty good thing to do. Block time on your calendar for thinking. Do it every single day. It’s okay if your mind wonders a bit, don’t limit what you allow yourself to think about. Some of your time will be very strategic thinking and some of your time will be “what if” and “why not” thinking. All thinking is better than no thinking. 

Think about that!

4 thoughts on “Thinking is a Pretty Good Thing to Do

  1. One of the most critical skills for a leader is to recognize when decisions must be made immediately, when they can be delayed–and for how long. The longer we delay, the more information we can develop and analyze, within the caveats of diminishing returns and potential stakeholder disenfranchisement. The worst mistakes I’ve made is in making an important decision urgently when it was not necessary. Low risk, high frequency quick decisions that lead to mistakes can usually be easily fixed. We simply adjust course along the way. High consequence, low frequency decisions absolutely need to be parsed between urgent and not urgent. The urgent, high consequence, and low frequency decisions ought to set off alarm bells in our head. No time to think, high consequence, little experience: DANGER!

    1. Great point Marc, it’s the urgent, high consequence decisions that can kill us. That’s why I highly recommend “what if” thinking to kind of play out high consequence decisions in our head, even if we never really have to make them. And BTW, now you have me saying “Danger Will Robinson” in my head. 🙂

  2. “Thought is subversive and revolutionary, destructive and terrible, Thought is merciless to privilege, established institutions, and comfortable habit. Thought is great and swift and free.”

    Bertrand Russell

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