We each have a natural set point, a place we feel most comfortable.
We might be seers who can imagine, out of whole cloth, a future.
We might be doers who need to be neck-deep in the work to come to conclusions that mean anything to us.
We might be analyzers who see the whole field of play and can visualize which pieces need to be moved in what ways to tilt the field.
We might be movers who just need to make something happen to feel any sense of accomplishment.
The point is, each of us starts somewhere, and like any good journey the first step is to figure out where that “where” is.
For example, I remember back in college the terror of each paper I had to write.
Inevitably, days before a paper was due I’d stumble across one classmate or another whose answer to a perfunctory “so…what are you writing about?” came back in fully-formed, immaculate, intimidating paragraphs. I’d nod, mutter something in response, and walk away, even more stressed that I was still just reading, and reading, and reading some more, taking tons of notes but struggling to come up with any sort of well-formed ideas of my own.
Over time I discovered that my own process required me to read and sit and write and struggle and read some more until, finally, my perspective would emerge. Not an easy process, but once I’d done it enough times I noticed that I like starting from the middle and working my way up (big picture) and down (specific proof points or tactics). No coincidence, then, that having a daily practice of capturing and developing ideas—in this blog and in my daily work—is part of how I structure my time. It’s a system that allows me to produce my best ideas.
So, if, irrespective of where we like to start, we must eventually build out everything from vision to tactics and all that lies in between, we must ask ourselves questions like:
How do I process information?
Where do I feel most comfortable along the chain?
More often than not, what are the moments, contexts, or situations in which my new ideas arise?
Once I’ve got a new perspective, or insight, or even just an inkling, what steps do I then need to take to fill out the other pieces of the puzzle?
And, finally, given all of this, how can I structure my day, my time, my conversations (or lack thereof) to give myself more opportunity both to develop the nuggets that come most easily to me, and to then turn these into flushed-out ideas that I’m ready to start putting out into the world?