on being an external thinker/processor

so it turns out that i’m an external thinker. that essentially means that most of my information processing happens when i speak. this doesn’t mean that don’t think (because i think a lot). what it means is the process of me trying to convey a thought to someone else actually shapes the resulting thought. 

for example, say i’m managing a project with a bunch of different deliverables. i might have all of the parts clearly separated in my mind, but upon explaining the work to a friend, i might categorize the parts in a way that helps them understand. the next time i go back to work on the project, i have a new way of organizing the different deliverables.

being an external processor, like everything, has its pros and cons.

one strong pro is that being an external thinker means that i actually do better work in teams. my ideas are actually stronger when i have someone to work with and explain myself to. of course, having different minds working together almost always makes things better, but on a personal level, it means that just the presence of someone else can help make my own ideas better. this effect happens even if they contributed nothing other than their presence. (sidenote: this has some cool implications for partnerships with people and assessing the value someone provides just by being there, but that’s a different topic…)

this means that collaboration is a natural way of working for me. and given the direction of work i want to do in the world, this is a huge asset.

another pro is that because i know external processing makes my ideas stronger, i have a strong affinity for people. in a sense, i understand that i actually need people. this lines up well with my thinking about how the world functions best and how we’ll only be solve our biggest problems by working together… as a planet.

a con that i’ve recognized several times is that being an external processor can sometimes mean that i don’t know what i think about something until i hear myself say it out loud. sometimes i surprise myself with things i say. usually, this is positive, but sometimes it gets me in trouble.

ok, enough rambling. maybe i’ll elaborate on this later. maybe not.