Thinking Is Underrated

Photo of The Thinker courtesy of marttj on Flickr.

Back in my dark days, when I practiced law and had to account for my time in 6-minute increments,* I regretted that there wasn’t a billing code for “thinking about your case.” To me, thinking was the most valuable contribution an attorney could make to a client’s case. There were billing codes aplenty for writing client correspondence; drafting motion to dismiss; making telephone calls; and appearing in court. The implication was that none of these required thought.

Since then, my days have been clearer and brighter, and I spend a lot of time thinking. I think a lot about relationships: with family and friends, clients, their prospects and donors, the dozen pros who help me do my varied work and the invigorating people I touch as I’m doing it. How to fortify ties. When to undo them. How to finesse a sticky situation. Who can help each other and should be introduced? Who might not work so well together and are better left at risk of meeting by chance?

I think about my time, my business, my stand-up comedy and my future. Much of my thinking time is over vacations and on the subway. Do you have a getaway place where you can devote time to thinking?

If you’re a fundraiser, you’ve got plenty of relationships to think about. You can think if you’re new to a job; lead others; have goals for your life and in your work; don’t have goals in your life and in your work; if you come from a family; if you believe in God; if you don’t; if you want to make the world a better place; if you have compassion; if you don’t. I urge you to devote time to thinking about what moves you.

I come across many bios that claim “passion” for something. I hope the people behind them are thinking strategically about how to turn their passion into fruitful action.

Think actively and consciously! My hope for you is that you’ll find it as wonderfully gratifying as I do.

* A maddening exercise that is detrimental to your health if undertaken for more than 18 minutes.

13 thoughts on “Thinking Is Underrated

  1. Well said. How much time would be saved, by those who think only actions count, by thinking first and getting it right?
    As a fundraising strategy researcher, I reckon being paid to think is about as lucky as it gets!


  2. Tony,
    Great post! Setting some good time and place to contemplate is always a good practice. Of course, I find if I try too hard to solve a challenge it doesn’t work and when I let it go – I have a shower epiphany! It just comes to me as the subconscious just appears when you least expect it! Thanks for the great post!

  3. Tony, very well put. I don’t know how many times in my professional life I’ve been accused of “not” making a decision, because I was “thinking” about the circumstances of making the decision. So many people want an “instant” decision, or as you put it, a reaction. In this world of instant gratification, everyone wants an reaction to every situation.

    “Thinking is Underrated” would make a great line for t-shirts!

  4. Tony, you are so right about thinking. After several swing-and-a-misses, I’ve been forced to think more about marketing our fundraising services. I love writing and I’ve been marketing through writing. But I sensed something was missing. What was missing? Thinking was the only way I was going to find the answer. Ah, I thought, I love conversations. I need to figure out a way of marketing that involves conversations with people.

    Thinking can free us when we are stuck.

  5. This reminds me of something I told the Development Directors I worked with 10 years ago. We were having a discussion on creativity, and several of them complained that they weren’t creative. I said that our brains don’t work on forced creativity. The creative “muse” strikes us at times when we’re not focusing on what we think we need to focus on….like when we’re in the shower, out on the driving range or in bed right before we fall asleep.

    Thinking, meditating, and praying have to become a part of our routines, too. The phrase that became the reminder to do this was, “Don’t just do something…sit there.”

  6. Tony,
    Thanks for putting “thinking” as a focus.
    I tend to like what Socrates said, “I cannot teach anyone anything, but I can only help them think.” Then Henry Ford commented in the last century, “Thinking is is hardest work there is, I guess that is why so few people are engaged in it.”
    It sounds like you are doing Mr. Ford’s hard work, “thinking” which is a great attribute.

  7. Although I’d like to believe that most of the people I deal with are intelligent, rarely do I perceive evidence of thinking, especially critical thinking. Reacting? Yes. Thinking? No.

    So, although you speak of thinking in a slightly different context, I find your comment today especially relevant, and thank you for getting the message out.

    Let me also take the opportunity to thank you for being such an estimable ambassador for our profession.

  8. If I had a nickel for every time someone asks me a question and when I don’t immediately spit back an answer they prompt, well??? and I say “I’m thinking about it!” I’d have many, many dollars. The person is usually taken aback, but, ultimately satisfied when I give a thoughtful response that actually ANSWERS the question! Let’s start a movement! Thinking should NEVER become a lost art.

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