Bits of Life Missed Worth Exploring

An Antidote to Incomplete Thinking


We go through our days relatively well. Our daily routines make each day familiar. The start and end of most of our days are without incident. Surprises, disappointments, and obstacles tend to always be unexpected.

Amid our busy lives, we have things we want to get done. Either to try, build on, or benefit from when complete. Or to solve a problem They generally take the form of an idea. Or it’s a suggestion we make to others to help them accomplish more or get past what they face. Ideas are cheap. Everyone has many of them which they easily share.

I find we tend to rush ideas. More a reaction to what we hear or think without much exploration. A fallacy of our thinking is that everything we share as an idea is logical and complete. Certainly, our ideas usually tend to fit nicely into what we know. But it’s what we don’t know or consider that weakens them and makes them incomplete.

Sounding good is not the same as having a plausible and executable GOOD idea. The sounding good part in our mind comes from the small world of experiences we travel in. Being plausible and executable lives in the world outside of what we know. This is where our ideas need to be first tested.

To do this requires two steps – one easier to do than the other – but both difficult and require effort. The first is to take an hour to write down your thoughts before sharing them. I can tell you firsthand, that my practice of consistently writing over the last 11 years has made me a better thinker. The cumulative hours of editing have heightened my sense of searching for poorly developed ideas in each paragraph and whether or not there is an overall structure to their presentation that can be understood and followed.

Many times I find when I write my first draft, it doesn’t make much sense. Even though I know the idea or topic I want to explore. Only through rewriting can I discover the beauty and depth of an idea or topic that has caught my attention and curiosity. This iterative process also allows me to see the weaknesses in my thinking which reveals where my thinking is incomplete. Discovering gaps in what I know can be infinitely more valuable than focusing simply on what we know.

Through writing and editing, you can slow yourself down to more critically think rather than react. Expressing an idea and its intent in writing is a skill that you can develop with practice. Jeff Bezos famously banned PowerPoint presentations at Amazon. Replacing them with 6-page written essays where he requests the originator of an idea to bring it to life thoughtfully. with intent and structure, through writing. Why? Because he found what was presented in writing was deeper and more well-developed than sharing a few short sentences on a PowerPoint slide.

This first part is easy because it does not require anyone else for you to write. It will help you if you spend this hour. No one else needs to read it for this writing step to have value.

The second step in this process is to then seek out others whose experiences are broader, greater, or different than yours. Admittedly, this is much harder to do. Trying to find people not in your small circle of friends who can look at your thoughts and evaluate them based on what they know as compared to what you think you know.

I am always fearful of what I don’t know when I approach new ideas that sound good. Finding people who will be generous with their time and sharing their perspectives given their more expansive backgrounds is not easy.

This step is not to delegate a “pass or fail” test on your idea or plan. Rather it is to help expose possibilities and concerns you did not think of and then give you a chance to build the impact of them into your idea, therefore, making your thinking more complete. After exploration and refinement, only you can decide whether it is worth pursuing the idea you now know much better.

I hope that, with practice, all of us can become more complete thinkers. First by now understanding that our thinking is more incomplete than we believe. Definitely by writing more things down before lunging after an idea. Giving us a chance to see where our logic is weak and where our thinking is incomplete.

Stress testing our written ideas with those who might just be able to identify the folly of our thinking gives us a chance to edit, revise, and build upon something we believe we want to get done. Then implementing the idea, which now has a greater probability of success, because it is more well-developed and complete.

Bits of Life Missed Worth Exploring


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