Have you ever looked back in the past and been disappointed with what you were able to get done?
Take for example the feeling you may have got when you looked at your bank account to see that out of the $50,000 you were paid over the year, only $19,000 was left in your account. Usually it’s only then, as you try and reconcile where it all went, when you think to yourself “If I had paid more attention to what I was doing during the year…”
Now think about last year. Think about all the time you had. Every year we’re given 365 days to create. What were you able to accomplish with that time? Did you start, or ship anything? If not, then what did you do with all that time?
When you look back at any point in time it’s easier to see the gaps and what you could have done. Looking at how I spend my time, most of it is broken down between two things:
- Thinking, note taking, and sketching.
- Talking with friends.
I’ve always been happy spending time doing these things, and they’ve always been relatively more productive than what else I could have been doing, like playing Xbox, or browsing Facebook.
When I have conversations with my friends we chat about things like start-ups, and what we want to do in the future. And when I’m on my own I spend a lot of time reading, writing, and slowly, more time taking notes and sketching.
But the other day I read something that made me think that the things I spend my time doing have different intrinsic value. It made me think that I was doing a poor job of making the best use my time. After reading it I immediately felt like I should be spending more time making.
Just so we’re clear, we’re big advocates of making and experimenting, not just talking or thinking. – Think While You Make, Make While You Think – BBH Labs
I’m not making a comment on the article. I just want to focus in one this one quote. This stood out for me, and when I read it an image quickly formed in my mind.
Making > Experimenting > Talking > Thinking
This idea has a bias for making. It sets an order, and makes a distinction between the two groups: Making & Experimenting, and Talking & Thinking. The goal is to move away of the right side, and move towards the left. Getting away from the world of ideas and into the world of work.
If I reflect on my own my activities, it tells me that I spend all my time in the right side. It tells me that the time I spend thinking could be better spent at the next level, sharing those ideas with others and building a tribe. It tells me that the time that my friends and I spend chatting could be better spent experimenting, or making things.
People who know themselves (and can be honest with themselves) are going to find the spot where they feel most comfortable. When people find somewhere to put themselves on the graph, it should help make a few things clearer:
- Where you are
- Where you need to go
- What you need to do to move up
If you talk to much, you need to start experimenting. If you experiment too much, you need to start making.
What Comes After Making?
Making is the final stage.
Without worrying too much about definitions, let’s say that Experimenting is starting, Making is shipping.
Once you work your way up past the levels of Thinking, Talking, and Experimenting to become someone who Makes and who ships, you become a professional.
There’s a passage I like from Steven Pressfield’s book The War of Art that talks about the characteristics of the professional that I’ll leave off with,
The amateur plays for fun. The professional plays for keeps.
To the amateur, the game is his avocation. To the pro it’s his vocation.
The amateur plays part-time, the professional full-time.
The amateur is a weekend warrior. The professional is there seven days a week. – Steven Pressfield