We tend to think highly of people who either get things done or can figure things out. Thinking vs doing are clearly two different skills. Someone recently chose to use the descriptors “passive” for thinking and “active” for doing. I found this interesting but it did leave me unsettled.
My intuition is that thinking and doing are symbiotic. They need to live together. While both can exist independently, there is no power in either of them unless they join forces.
It’s true that those who think a lot, don’t seem to display a lot of movement in their lives. Both figuratively as well as physically. Indecision or apathy both leads to not following through. Creating the imagery of inaction. So to describe thinking as being passive could well apply in this case.
Doing without thinking reduces itself to mere habit or following a well-worn daily routine. There is no reflection or adjustment when in this state. Giving us the ability to survive, while short-changing us when it comes to realizing our dreams of “more” or “different” for our future. In this case, there is a lot of verifiable activity, making it easy to associate doing with “active”.
What’s problematic about creating the simple dichotomy of “passive” and “active” is that it becomes hard to measure beyond physical evidence. When creating a budget, writing a book, designing a house, preparing a presentation, or spending time learning new skills you are using the tools of both thinking and doing to propel us forward. With little evidence of major physical activity.
Where we get ourselves in trouble is in our self-assessments of thinking and doing. We overestimate our ability to think and in what we do. So many thoughts go through our minds daily that it’s hard to argue that we do not think. Layer in all of the distractions throughout our day and we never lose sight of the fact that we continually think. With respect to doing, we always make ourselves feel good by always saying that we do a lot already.
Life takes us all over the place. Like a boat tossed about in high waves. Our challenge is to find the yellow lines on our path that keeps us moving straight while trying to move forward. Much like in the picture above. When we achieve this sweet spot, where thinking and doing are aligned, much leverage will appear in our lives. Creating positive tangible results for us to see over time with effort.
Making it less important to figure out if we are “passive” or “active” but rather to seek to be engaged, aligned, and aware of the constant need to both think and act together in step to get the most out of our life’s journey.