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Think By Doing

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“You need to avoid certain things in your train of thought: everything random, everything irrelevant. And certainly everything self-important or malicious.” — Marcus Aurelius


As a student of philosophy under Karl Popper at the London School of Economics, investor George Soros was very contemplative. Thinking played an important part in his life, but he didn’t know yet how to direct his thinking, so he wasted a lot of time replaying certain ideas in his head.

As he started his career on Wall Street, he slowly realized that thinking is more useful when you also act. Once he discovered that he could learn more through action than contemplation, he leveraged his thinking.

In Soros on Soros he shared, “I became an active thinker where my thinking played a major role in deciding what actions to take and my actions play an important role in improving my thinking.”

We often do this, we think all the time, but we fail to act. Without feedback, our thinking is stuck in an infinite loop. Thinking just for the sake of thinking is what we must not do. Like Soros, we need to develop a 2-way feedback loop between thinking and action. We need to apply our thoughts and combine them with action. We need to have certain ideas leave our heads and be tested in the real world.

Thinking is powerful, but ultimately it requires action to turn into its most powerful shape. This way, we can improve our actions through our thinking and our thinking through our actions. Knowledge is powerful when it is applied. Ideas are powerful when they are applied. Nothing works without execution.

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