Typing, talking, thinking.
And the reality of modern work.
The modern worker’s role, outside of manual laborers, primarily consists of some combination of three things: typing, talking, and thinking.
It’s fascinating when you think about it, and I often do.
A CEO of a public healthcare company and a sales rep of a software company have vastly different roles, but they both consist of this combination of typing, talking, and thinking. If aliens were to observe these two people from a distance they might believe they do the same thing.
Pecking away at a keyboard.
Talking to another person or group of people.
And in-between, staring off into space (maybe at the alien’s planet?) while they think through a particular problem they’re trying to solve.
So what? you may be wondering. Fair question.
There are two reasons why I like framing modern work in this way.
The first reason is that typing, talking, and thinking are the big buckets that we need to be great at to excel in our careers.
Typing and talking are forms of communication, and the better we get at them, the better we are as a colleague, leader, and employee.
When we can clearly articulate our thoughts, ideas, and needs through text and the spoken word, we increase our clarity and influence. And if we can’t clearly articulate our thoughts, ideas, and needs? We’re destined to be in a perpetual cycle of frustration.
When I’m coaching other leaders in tech, many of my conversations with clients revolve around better communication. It’s the foundation of high performing humans and high performing teams.
Thinking, and more specifically the ability to use the combination of divergent and convergent thinking, is the bucket that can make or break our happiness in any given role. We are faced with problems and challenges every single day, and it’s our ability to think through these challenges that allows us to either resolve them or let them fester.
The problem with modern work is that the “thinking” bucket often gets squeezed out by doing. We’re so busy with meetings and to-do lists that we don’t have the time to actually sit with the our biggest problems and come up with creative resolutions.
I think the best thing anyone can do in this situation is slow down to speed up. Take a day away from meetings and just sit with problems. Think through good ideas. Think through bad ideas. Ask yourself “What this look like if it were easy?”
While it can seem like a trite question to pose, there’s immense value in using the question to broaden our thinking and set of potential solutions.
The second reason I love the framing of typing, talking, and thinking is not an obvious one.
Typing, talking, and thinking can put things in perspective very quickly.
It’s easy to believe that the grass is greener. If we just had this other role… If we just worked for this other company… If we just switched to this other industry…
These are thoughts that can dominate our thinking when we’re overwhelmed and under-resourced in our work. But the reality is that every role, when we zoom out, exists in some combination of these three things.
A former boss (and still friend) used to tell me “Every job is shoveling shit. You just have to decide what type of shit you want to shovel.”
It may seem pessimistic, but it’s also true. Our problems aren’t resolved by jumping to greener grass.
But they can be resolved by getting better at typing, talking, and thinking.
Here’s a few resources and ideas for improving these buckets:
✌️ and ❤️,