Why thinking is a bad idea, if you want to get somewhere good

maths

I’m currently deep in the depth of mathematical research into the equations behind genetic fractals. I’m also ever looking for the next thing to do. Regular work bores me quickly and right now my work is as regular as it gets and I can do it with my brain in sleep mode. The only redeeming hope is that the work is temporary and I have no idea what comes next. That feels like staring at the horizon and wonder which ship will come over it and whence it hails and where it heads. With me on board.

My current research is about curves, squiggly lines if you prefer. In particular it is about how you draw such lines. There are different ways to look at drawing lines and curves. You can say to yourself, let’s draw a circle or a straight line and go ahead and do it. This is like having a plan: I’m going to draw a line from one point to another.

We do that a lot in life. We are someplace that we want to get away from. We think hard and come to the conclusion that the grass is definitely greener somewhere else and we come up with a clever plan to get to that meadow of plenty and bliss.

It rarely works or if it does, we certainly didn’t follow a straight line.

But my current research isn’t about planning lines and circles. It is about being somewhere on a page with a pencil and to say, let’s move a little in such and such direction. Then when we get there we say: how about we move a little into this other direction. After a while we will be somewhere else and there will be some line on the paper. If we choose our direction and forward movement carefully we may end up somewhere interesting. Or we maybe all over the place and not get anywhere.

I don’t know about you, but my life is very much like that. Sometimes I find myself in a great place and sometimes I’m just nowhere.


This morning, when I lifted my head from the mess of formulas and shapes that I’m scuba diving in, it occurred to me that there is an important message in this way of drawing lines, i.e. how we move around our lives.

Wherever we are we can always move a little in some direction and if we get the direction right then we’ll end up in a great situation.

But what is the direction? Easy, just spend days and days surfing the internet and read blogs. Take notes, meditate, talk to friends or get a life coach. Not.

Don’t do this! Whatever you do, do not do the above.

Why? Because my theory of curves says that the only way to get somewhere is to move a little in some direction. The operative word is ‘move’. Thinking, meditating, planning and talking may help you find a direction but you will get nowhere. Acting, moving, executing will do that for you. Even if it is random.

You see, movement without direction gets you places. Direction without movement gets you nowhere. Look at the picture below. When we have a plan but we don’t act then because we can’t see beyond our experience horizon, we can’t see where the good places are. On the other hand, if we take action without a plan, although we can’t see the good places beyond our horizon, at some point we will spot them when we get close enough.

actionplan

For people like me, whose brain never ever stops thinking, this is so non-intuitive: don’t think, just do. Thinking will get you nowhere; action will get you somewhere.


So much for the maths, infallible as the argument is. My experience is that good things are always beyond the horizon. You can’t see them until you go over the horizon and have a good look. Once you see them, it easy, just steam right at them. So indeed, erring in life, love or business is not just OK: it is the only way.

These days I measure success by the degree of erring that I have accomplished. Deep thought  days without action are bad days. Random actions without coherent direction are great days.

Having said this, it is time to stop writing – which is a bit like thinking – and get moving. Mindless mayhem, here I come.

Epiphanic explorational moments

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Over the holiday period, my mind tends to find its way out. Out as in, out of the rut and constraints of the life I have built around me. Out as in, out of these self-inflicted boundaries that keep me safe and stupid. Continue reading Epiphanic explorational moments

The awesomeness of being lost

lost

The lack of activity on this blog – this my third post in 2016 – only means one thing: huge activity elsewhere. I have slowed down on searching for great ideas, inspiration, happiness, friendship, love and understanding life. Instead, I concentrate hard on getting lost.

Continue reading The awesomeness of being lost

humnchain: using blockchain to restore trust & transparency in giving

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Fintech and blockchain, are buzzing with opportunities to  dis-intermediate traditional monoliths in financial services and change the way that our economy functions.

But what if we used this technology of distributed ledgers and smart contracts to alleviate humanity’s suffering? There are many causes that Continue reading humnchain: using blockchain to restore trust & transparency in giving

Life under a giant sun

giant sun

I live on the foothills of the Jura mountains and at this time of year we often get fog in the valley. On such days we wake up to a beautiful sun, set in a deep blue sky. Then, as I drive into the valley to go to work, I descend into a fog which evolves into a low hanging cloud. Continue reading Life under a giant sun