I spent some time recently chatting with the wonderfully perceptive Sonia Gonzalez. In our conversation she touched on the difference between – and importance of – having both ‘inputs’ and ‘outputs’.
‘Inputs’ include the experiences we have, the courses we take, the books we read – the time we spend learning and growing.
‘Outputs’ are the chair we make, the logo we design, the customer service we deliver – the value we bring to the world.
Too much energy spent on output, and we risk being out of touch and getting left behind, possibly even burning out. I’ve been there: thinking only about getting the next thing out into the world – never pausing to consider whether the thing was actually any good, or how it might be improved.
Conversely, focus only on input and the danger is we dither and procrastinate, and nothing actually gets done. I’ve been here, too: convincing myself that the information I need is just around the corner – forgetting that we can never know everything, and that some of the learning is in the doing.
There may be times when the pendulum swings one way or the other. An approaching deadline will rightly have us prioritising work and delivering output, while a holiday is for recharging and the input of new experiences.
There is tension between these two forces, and somewhere there is a balance to be found.
In the meantime, when we find ourselves with that “Aargh! Something isn’t quite right here!” feeling, it may be worth considering how we are spending our time in relation to inputs and outputs.
NB Image is from this morning’s ‘input-walk’, admiring the majesty of the ocean, and wondering where the waves end and the clouds begin … [but that’s a post for another day].