Social thinkers vs. Solo thinkers
Some days I don’t get any work done.
I sit and stare at a blank screen, urging ideas to come out. I pace, I change locations, I put on music to get inspired. Nada.
Other days the words flow, no... pour out of me onto the page. Everything is clear. I can crank out an entire strategy deck from start to finish in less than an hour.
One especially unproductive day, I called a friend. I wanted to rant about how much time I’d wasted. How I would never make progress on this strategy. How I was failing. When he picked up and asked, “What’s up” I immediately felt ideas bubbling inside of me. I didn’t hold back. I blurted them out. The simple act of talking unblocked what an entire day of thinking couldn’t.
After years of struggling with writer’s block, I realized: I’m a social thinker.
A good friend will surprise you by helping you say things you’ve known but could never find the words to express. -David Perell
Social Thinkers solve problems by conversing. Like a game of tennis, they bounce ideas back and forth to shape them and twist them. Each volley leads to new insights and sparks of creativity.
Finding the right collaborator unlocks tremendous productivity.
Alone time is a social thinker’s krpyonite. They need conversation and collaboration to think.
One of my most memorable 1-on-1’s with a former manager started with him ranting, “I don’t understand why everyone wants to sit in a conference room and sing kumbaya together. Give me a quiet room, a laptop, and some alone time and I’ll get to the answer ten times faster.” This is a classic solo thinker.
Solo Thinkers solve problems by thinking deeply. Like a cyclist, they put their head down, enter an intense state of focus, and solve problems in their head. Each obstacle is a puzzle that just needs time and brain power to solve.
Uninterrupted alone time unlocks tremendous productivity.
Conversation is a distraction to a solo thinker. They need isolation and concentration to think.
Tips for social thinkers
- Identify your best collaborators and befriend them.
- Record your conversations so you can revisit insightful moments.
- If you’re alone, talk to yourself. Use a voice transcription like otter.ai to capture your thoughts.
Tips for solo thinkers
- Create long focus blocks so you have as much dedicated time to think as possible.
- Silence all distractions so your train of thought isn’t disrupted
- Find comfortable spaces that promote flow.
Are you a solo thinker or a social thinker? What are your secrets to doing your best work? Let me know @bdickason on twitter.
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Post last updated: Feb 11, 2021
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