not another 8 ways post.

When I drive, I think. When I drive at the end of a confusing day, my thinking takes on a peculiar, stream-of-something tone. Such was the case yesterday when I tweeted, “Among the how-to books, are there any whether-to books?”

I was inspired by yet another how-to book on the seat of the car, just checked out of the library at the recommendation of a friend. Having looked at it overnight, I am planning to dig into it more. In fact, one statement is already shaping my day:

“What separates the great innovator from the mere data gatherer is the ability to stop gathering data and think about what has been gathered.” **

And, of course, the question is always, “how do I do that?” And the author obliges.

But the looming question for me right now is not the “how-to” question. It is the “whether-to” question. How do I decide whether to take those steps, to read that book, to read the blog that mentions the book, to write this post rather than clean off the desk or make the bed or just stop and think?

I can write 8 ways lists with great ease. So could you. I can read how-to books or how they did  (biographies and histories) or how could we (futurist) with delight and abandon. The whether books are harder, because they invite me to weigh and reflect and choose.

As you walk into the weekend, as you make your lists of what has to get done and how you are going to do it, what are your “whether” filters going to be?

Would you care to share?



**CrazyBusy: Overstretched, Overbooked, and About to Snap! Strategies for Handling Your Fast-Paced Life, by Dr Edward Hallowell, p 132.

17 responses to “not another 8 ways post.

  1. My whether filters are particularly coming in to play right now. I’ve reached the end of my scaling abilities at present. I’m stuck. I’ve tried everything I can, and now, I have to admit that I’ve reached the end of the road.

    With that as a backdrop, WHETHER is my new gatekeeper. Because I have to say no, and I have to say no often. There’s no other way.

    Things keep creeping onto my calendar and into my projects, and I have to stop doing it.

    Without a “whether” filter, I’m doomed.

    HOW will I decide on my whether filter? Not sure, but your post gives me a concrete reason to start putting it into practice instead of just loosely rambling along.

  2. Thought provoking and timely. This gives me food for thought for a presentation I am doing this afternoon. Thanks.

  3. I’ve found very recently that I’m getting past the how-to, and getting to the whether-to. Having a family has pushed that thought much further than ever before.

    I think I need a how-to on whether-tos 🙂

  4. Ah my friend, you started the sorting process already with your “no” post. That’s a framework. But always always always, the habits are hard.

    Thanks, Ann. I hope the presentation went well!

    Glen, somehow family constrains the choices (though in a very good way). When we think about living not for ourselves alone, we have to think more “on purpose.”

    What i’m seeing is the need know how-to whether-to. Hmmm.

  5. How about “If only” books?

  6. those would sound like the voices in the heads of most of us. Or like memoirs of almost famous people.

  7. Some good thoughts to go into the weekend with. Thank you for that! I’ve been starting to think along those lines, less about the how and more about if it’s appropriate.


  8. This is a timely post, Jon (and the book sounds like one I need to read). Finding myself coming to the end of a couple of major chapters of my life, I’m in the position of thinking about what will be written on the pages of the next chapters. If I’m not thinking in terms of “purpose”–What am I here for? For what was I created?–it is abundantly clear already that others, perhaps not so atuned to the above questions for MY life, are eager to dictate what will fill those pages. For sure, others will be part of the story, but the characters don’t jump on the pages of a book by their own accord.

  9. i see the whethers differently, it’s when I allow the stream of consciousness go – meaning I am not so gosh darn on purpose about it so while walking the dog, taking a shower, driving is especially good – it’s often when I am my most brilliant

    usually I don’t remember my brilliance later on …ha!

    if universe needs some asking – you know … things like – could you send me a spare $100 – I do it then, and thank goodness I always get an answer, or a spare $100, whichever is needed most 🙂

  10. Pingback: Not another howto ….. but whetherto (del.ici.ous) « Laika’s MedLibLog

  11. Amy, what comes to mind immediately is another book on “ought-to”, though I love your way of saying it better. “perhaps not so attuned to the above questions for MY life” is a fabulous way for thinking about whether to listen to advice, direction, counsel.

    Karen, whether or not to run things, whether or not to obsess–wonderful questions. That creative space, sabbath on a daily basis, is important.

    Rick Mahn points to this in a different way today:

    thanks all.

  12. “whether to”…decisions make me think of choices we all have to make between “good, better and best” activities. It seems to me increasingly we have more “good” options than ever before, but we can’t do ALL of them. Part of “whether to” is asking, “What is best (wisest) at this moment?” And that answer will probably be most affected by our life goals, and our daily priorities. Having just made THREE “whether to” decisions in quick succession brings more clarity to my thinking than usual!

  13. When the spirit moves I speak – or something like that. Blog posts for me are things I need to get written. And often I discover what I think as I write. In much the same way I often don’t know what I think until I hear myself say it. Sometimes there is not much conscious thought as some kind of subliminal digestion of what I have heard and read, or what “occurred” to me.

    And of course as a web log it is most often because I found something I found thought provoking.

    If you happen to be reading a newspaper and someone else is in the room, you would probably, at some point, put it down and start talking about what you have just read.

    There is a need for “how to” posts because most things you need to do on a computer – even if they are documented – and hard to find and even harder to understand. But just because you know how to do something does not mean you should.

  14. Visit! Its run by a 13 year old 7th grader, so you might find it interesting!

  15. Stephen, i very much understand the feeling of needing to say something in order to understand what I am thinking. In fact, the number of posts I write, the number of conversations I have, where I have to put the thoughts on the outside of my head in order to know what I’m thinking, is huge. (Bad grammar, I know)

    Your last line is wonderful. Just because you know how doesn’t mean you should.

    Laurie, you are pointing well to a practice component, to the reality that the more we work on whether, the more we are able to think that way. There is a maturing process that comes through consistently choosing…even if we are choosing to not decide right now.

    And amazing scott, thanks for stopping by.

  16. My whether filters include: prioritizing, value to myself, value to my lifetime.

  17. As an analytical thinker, I am constantly reasoning. Sometimes when we sort out the reason why we are doing something — it helps to clear up what “how-to’s” we need to access and when. I believe you hit the nail on the head and it will be a venture many bloggers will look into for the months and years to come. Thanks for your insight.Great post.
    Sherita Searcy