Thinking Can't Be an Afterthought

Thinking Can't Be an Afterthought

Dr. Pavan Soni 18/08/2020 7
Thinking Can't Be an Afterthought

Do you take time to think?

Thinking about oneself, in particular life, family, and career (preferably in that order), doesn't happen to most at a desirable frequency. Between the office and home, and the ever growing traffic, most mortals don't get time to think, almost about anything. Thinking gets a second place, or rather no place at all because thinking is a painful process. One is far better off mounting the proverbial treadmill and continue running -- huffing and puffing, and not dare stop. Not running on the treadmill would simply mean falling down. Thinking is a painful process.

A large portion of people keep themselves busy, courtesy people surround them or by following well laid out routines, for the fear of thinking. It took the Socrates to declare the unexamined life worthless, and yet hundreds of year later thinking remains an afterthought.

The lack of thinking is even more scary for the fact that machines are taking a significant portion of the automatic and the mindless chores away from us, and we would collectively be pushed to muster the unique attributes we hone -- to think like humans (uniquely) do. In fact, I argue that machines push us to evolve faster. So, the battle between machines and us is practically already lost our to machines, for we haven't thought this through! Machines are pushing us to think hard on our uniqueness.

With the advent of technology, the growing stress to reach to and fight it out at office, and earning to spend more time with family and with oneself, one must make a few important choices. A few rules that would govern life, and preferably help lower the misery on a daily basis.

I would offer three suggestions on thinking, where the very act could be brought right up in the centre, where is belongs.

Learn to Say 'No'

You must know what you like to do and that you can be better at doing. Often, in career and life, it's not so much about what you can do but rather what you must do, that makes a difference. Owing to lower information asymmetry (thanks to the Internet), and proliferation of talent, it's prudent to stick to the knitting. I reckon that the future belongs to specialists.

You work would most likely pull you into directions which you neither enjoy treading, nor would be good at. It would save a lot of misery by saying 'no', right away. There's not point in being also ran, for life's too short to make a meaning anyways.

Tame Technology for Productivity

Nowhere in the history has the access to computing, communication, and mobility been so pervasive as we are witnessing today. Couple the omnipresent technology with the steep declining cost of its access. Why not then put this access to some good use?

Some of the tradeoffs which we weren't thinking of a few years before are ripe now. For instance, today one can decide against owning a car and completely rely on Ola or an Uber. The same with furniture, or cooking, or a growing number of essentials. Yesterday's exceptions have become today's norms. By leveraging the power of cheap technology you can indeed focus your scarce efforts and attention to where you can make a significant contribution. Be prudent then about your time.

Start Delegating Extensively

Apart from letting technology take on your piece of work and mind, there is a long tail of talent too that can share your load. The trick is to delegate with confidence. So, instead of complaining about the ever-worsening traffic in your city, you are better off hiring a driver. Instead of stealing away time from your family or career, you might want to hire a cook, and hence fourth.

Of course, no one can match your quality -- but the point is that no one has to! It's the work that must get done, even if with 70 percent satisfaction level. At least, you free-up your time to work on (hopefully) more important endeavors.

Some of the decisions made in past owing to lack of choices must be revisited now. High disposable income, more alternates, greater access to technology, growing 'money value of time' (and not just time value of money) are making for a compelling case of thinking through our choices.

To paraphrase, stick to the knitting, tame technology selfishly, and trust others for your work. These three aspects of life would most likely help you free-up your time and preferably enrich your life's quality.

Do reflect.

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  • Sarah Willoughby

    Awesome Stuff. I’ve been severely struggling in the hiring department

  • Byron Holman

    Excellent article

  • Liam Robson

    Fantastic breakdown. I'll be applying this asap.

  • Kumar Mohit

    Thanks for the good info

  • Gary Palmer

    Fantastic, thanks Dr Pavan

  • Sarah Allen

    If somebody disappoints the loss is usually hard to swallow and you go back to yourself saying "next time I'm gonna take care of that myself".

  • Rob Young

    I really enjoyed and learned a lot from this article.

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Dr. Pavan Soni

Innovation Expert

Dr. Pavan is an Innovation Evangelist by profession and a teacher by passion. He is the founder of Inflexion Point, a strategy and innovation consulting. Apart from being an Adjunct Faculty at IIM Bangalore, Pavan has consulted with leading organizations on innovation and creativity, including 3M, Amazon, BCG, Deloitte, Flipkart, Honeywell, and Samsung, amongst others. Pavan was the only Indian to be shortlisted for the prestigious 'FT & McKinsey Bracken Bower Award for the Best Business Book of the Year 2016'. He has also been invited four times to speak at the TEDx. For his work on innovation, Pavan bagged the prestigious ‘On the Job Achiever’ Award at Lakshya in 2007 at NITIE Mumbai. Pavan works closely with CII, Bangalore Chamber of Industry and Commerce, European Business Group, FICCI, Karnataka Knowledge Commission, NHRD, and World Trade Centre, towards shaping their innovation activities. Pavan is a mentor for NSRCEL at IIM Bangalore, Founder Institute, Institute of Product Leadership, Brainstars, Budli, HackerEarth, and UpGrad, and is on advisory board for VC firm- Utilis Capital. Pavan is also a columnist at YourStory, Entrepreneur India, Inc 42, and People Matters. He is a Gold Medalist from MBM Engineering College Jodhpur, and did his PGDIE from NITIE Mumbai. Pavan finished his Doctoral Studies from IIM Bangalore in the domain of innovation management. More on his work is available at


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