sprinters and marathoners

the latest two episodes of design matters are really getting my thinking flowing. i’ve got four posts drafted already and there will probably be more than that. but, as always, there’s nothing to do except start so here’s the first.

this post is mostly about this quote from the hilariously self-referential gretchen rubin: “there are two types of people in the world: people who separate the world into two types of people and people who don’t.”

one of these breakdowns gretchen mentions in her interview is sprinters and marathoners. this totally matches my understanding of people in the world.

i consider myself a marathoner. though there’s always room for improvement, i definitely have the most developed skills around thinking long-term. my whole interest in systems thinking evolved from my recognition that short-term assessment of work often misses big picture patterns that undermine short-term gains. i’m also always thinking about how to implement lightweight (meaning easy, quick, non-time-consuming) protocols and practices that create and accumulate value over time.

my friend ross, on the other hand, is definitely a sprinter. he wakes up with SO much energy and loves to dive headfirst into his work.

of course, using ourselves as examples, each of us can operate in both modes. i know very well how to define a scope of work for a short amount of time and execute on it. ross knows how to think about, envision, and build long-term work. but at the end of the day, we make a good pair because we each naturally default to opposite lanes in gretchen’s running metaphor. we balance each other out and also compliment each other’s thinking. but i disgress…

gretchen’s breakdown of sprinters versus marathoners is super helpful. it’s something i can imagine myself asking in place of the ‘what do you do?’ question [future blog post about my hatred of that question coming soon].

“in life, are you a sprinter or a marathoner? how do you know?”