Thinking Differently About Both/And
Are you an “either/or” person or a “both/and” person?
I’ve often thought of myself as a both/and person. In other words, if I’m presented with many opportunities, I try to find a way to fit all of them into my schedule (or at least the ones that are most in alignment with my personal goals and vision).
This doesn’t mean I don’t say “no”. This year, I’ve started saying no to more projects than I ever did in the last four years. The projects I’m currently working on satisfy me on many levels. So, if I’m going to say “yes” to something else it better be within that sweet spot.
Naturally, one of the challenges of being a both/and person is you can easily end up spreading yourself thin. I’ve burned out enough times to know that I must approach things a little differently if I want to be doing what I’m doing in a sustainable way.
Still, I enjoy the creative challenge of determining how each project connects with the other. Even when two projects appear completely different from the outside, they may have more in common than they do at first glance.
So, if my natural tendency is to be a both/and person, I need to be asking myself the right questions to guide my thinking.
This is why I like to ask the question, “how does this all fit together?” Though it may be grammatically incorrect, I think it’s a great question, because I’ve found the answers you come up with can prove interesting and surprising.
The answers may not come to you all at once. But if you give your brain the opportunity to process it in the background while you’re working on other things, eventually some thoughts and solutions will present themselves.
Seeing the commonalities between projects can help you:
· Group similar tasks together.
· Create checklists for these tasks.
· Batch process these tasks.
· Create a role within your business and hire someone to handle these tasks.
As you can imagine, the above points can boost your efficiency and even overall effectiveness.
But this is just a starting point.
Recently, my question has gradually shifted from “how does this all fit together?” to “what revenue streams am I trying to build?”
I understand how important consistency and persistency is in building a revenue stream. So, when I ask this question, I’m basically asking myself what I’m willing to work on day in and day out for the foreseeable future.
There is an obvious limit to how much I can personally handle on any given day. So, this question forces me to think about the time required to pursue each revenue stream and how realistic it is for me to give it my daily attention.
So, when I think about both/and now, I’m not just thinking about how all the projects fit together. Seeing that connection is critical. But I’m also thinking about what revenue streams I’m pursuing. That causes me to be more deliberate about how I go about my day.
Whether you’re an either/or person or both/and person, there are certain pros and cons. I admire either/or people for their single-minded focus. They tend to grow a mile deep and an inch wide. Both/and people often grow an inch deep and a mile wide. But ultimately, they both have their place and one is not better than the other.
Most people tend to gravitate naturally towards one way of thinking. Some people don’t like working on many projects at once. Others don’t mind turning down amazing opportunities to stay focused on their current obsession.
But whichever type of person you are, asking the right questions can help you find motivation internally, gain clarity, and connect the dots between the various projects you’re working on.