Tag Archives: thinking

no wonder we are confused

I talked with a friend who was going on vacation. He forgot his laptop. He drove back home to get it. He got scolded.

But the vacation was as much a retreat, as much a time to think, as pure escape. And, like me, my friend thinks with his fingers.

I talked with a friend who was grieving a loss. A deep loss, the kind that, when you think about it, rips your guts. And he was talking about this loss pretty analytically. And feeling bad about it.

I reminded my friend that if he were a woodworker, he would go build something, lose himself in physical work. And we would look at that and think that was somehow noble grief. But my friend works with his mind, not chisels. He carves detailed arguments, he sands away imprecisions, he assembles understanding from carefully measured, Kilns-dried lumber. And so, of course, he is working out his grief with the tools he knows.

It is possible, of course, that I have odd friends.

It is possible, of course, that grieving and resting take acceptably different forms for different people.

It is possible, of course, that my friends understand how their brains work.

It is possible, of course, we are fearfully and wonderfully made.


(It is possible that someone caught the C.S. Lewis allusion and will win a copy of  “Poems”  – just because they tell me what the reference is.)


learning about how I think

I’m in the middle of a large creative project. With a clear deadline. And lots of pieces that–at this point–I need to figure out.

As the project moves along,  I will get other people involved. I will get help. I will make it more fully be about us. But at this point, it is me.

I have a list of people that I owe emails that I’m not getting to. And the longer the time goes, the more frustrated those people are likely feeling. And the more frustrated I’m feeling about not answering.

In trying to understand the problem this morning, I realized that when I am doing this kind of project, all the parts of my brain that are about intentional creative problem-solving and implementing are going toward the project. As a result, any other conversations that require me to be creative and thoughtful and committed suffer.

A post? No commitment so it’s easy. A schedule question? Commitment so it’s hard. A project in the future? No commitment so it’s easy. Lunch choice today? A commitment so it’s hard. An excuse? Easy. An explanation? Hard because it involves writing a story.

In the past, I would look at this as failure. “Why can’t I do everything.” Today, it’s opportunity. “How can I take this understanding of what is making thinking so challenging and refine what I’m doing, how I’m interacting?”

Not a big post, I know. But a big deal to me. So I thought I’d share it. And then go back to creating and committing.


The project? We decided to give the people who show up at our church services on Easter Sunday a DVD about us. 5 video shorts that say “here’s what happens the rest of the week, the rest of the year.” It will be great for guests, but it will also be great for regulars who don’t see all the pieces.

Running 900 copies will be easy. Right now, I’m shooting. That’s the challenge.

By the way, if you’d like a copy when we’re done, let me know.

I get up at 6

I set our alarm for 6. I usually get up. In fact, even when I don’t set our alarm for 6, I still wake up.

I started doing this several months ago. I wanted to read. I wanted to write. I wanted to learn to use time to influence lives.

And so I get up at 6.

Sometimes, I talk about that itself as if it is an amazing feat. But it isn’t.

Some mornings I get up and spend an hour looking at my computer screen. I browse through articles that have been gathered for me from 138 other writers. I read short comments made by more than 100 of my friends. I read what people have sent me directly by email. I follow connections made in all of those places to other articles, other people.

In my fogginess, as I drink my first cup of coffee for the day, it seems as if I am doing something useful. I may be. I sometimes find things that are helpful for understanding what is going on in the lives of others. I often am able to write to someone, to encourage someone.

Most of the time this random skimming is just random skimming.

Sometimes, the night before I have made a list: Here are the things I am not going to do in the morning. Here are the things I am going to do.

I’m not going to look at the articles from 138 people. I am going to read from the book of Isaiah. I’m not going to look at whatever comes to me. I am going to reflect on that idea I’ve been working on. I am going to send a note to my friend. I am going to write a short essay about that subject.

And  on the mornings when I get up at 6 and work through that kind of list, I am doing something.

I am learning step by step how to use time to influence lives. Starting with mine.


Getting up at 6 to be up for an hour, that is practice.

Getting up at 6 and working through a specific list of activities designed to sharpen my mind and heart and soul and pencil, that is deliberate practice.

[Deliberate practice]  is activity designed specifically to improve performance, often with a teacher’s help; it can be repeated a lot; feedback on results is continuously available; it’s highly demanding mentally, whether the activity is purely intellectual, such as chess or business-related activities, or heavily physical, such as sports; and it isn’t much fun.
Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else, page 66.

Just getting up at six is like a kid who sits at the piano for a thirty minutes, counting every moment his seat is on the bench as practice. Working on the hard parts  is like the musician who each day works on the part of paying scales that was hard yesterday.

Does that make sense, my daily coaches and feedback providers? Does that help illustrate deliberate practice?

the cost of intellectual overhead

How complicated do your answers have to be? How many problems do they have to solve? How many features do the have to have? How much time does it take to create all the options? How much of an expert do you have to be? How many moves ahead do I have think? How much research is necessary? When does research become obsession? how many years of training do you need to become a trainer?

What if, instead of creating kitchen sink solutions, I just answered the question you are asking right this moment?