Why I Read and Why I Write

This foray into writing and sharing articles is new to me. I’ve always had opinions, and I have never been one to hesitate to share them, but it typically has been done in conversation, face to face with friends, family or colleagues. There has been the odd time in my life where something critical or life changing has happened where I have started to write about it, but it usually petered off and was left unfinished as I found a venue to talk about it instead.

While I have always been a reader, devouring books each night, I have always read fiction. I rarely read anything for the purpose of educating myself. My evening reading was decompression. It allowed my mind to escape and settle down. Lately, this has changed. I find myself reading more about leadership, human behavior, and organizational culture. Though I can pinpoint a catalyst for this change, it wasn’t a deliberate choice made with a specific goal in mind. But even the catalyst doesn’t fully explain why I have started to suddenly start reading to inform myself, or to share my thoughts in a somewhat more formal manner by writing them down. I’ve forced myself to think on this a little. Why has this change come about? I’ve come to the conclusion that it is because of how I learn, and my change in employment.

I was employed as an Executive Assistant to a General Officer for a period of time. It afforded me the opportunity to exchange with people that had significantly more experience than me, and I learned a great deal. An exchange that always stuck with me was about the style of learning one has. The Deputy Commander made the comment that it was important to know if you are a talk-think-talker, or a think-talk-thinker. He said it was equally important to understand which style those you work with have so that you can get the most out of people, and do not make inaccurate assumptions about them based on their silence, or based upon their initial reactions to ideas.

You do not have to know me for long before you realize that I am a talk-think-talker. Despite the fact that his statement stuck with me, and I knew instantly that I was a talk-think-talker, I never even bothered to google it or read about the concept more. Not surprisingly, because I am a talk-think-talker, I just talked about it, shared this idea with other people, until recently. My trusty friend Google pointed me to this article, https://www.fastcompany.com/919234/do-you-talk-think-or-think-talk. It’s a short read, but here’s the part that described me eerily well:

“If you’re a talk-to-think learner, I suspect you talk continuously while learning. You probably sound out ideas and say what’s on your mind. Because you rely on other people’s responses, you may prefer to work in a group or on a team. Even when you’re alone, you might catch yourself talking to yourself. 

From childhood, you may recall school days when you responded to your teacher’s request by raising your hand quickly or blurting out answers. Even now, you probably grow impatient when you work with a person who takes their time before responding, and hear yourself interrupting or filling in gaps when someone speaks slowly.” 

I am a people person. I have been since I was a child. While I relish my down time, and can have bouts where I do not want to be social because it’s exhausting, overall, my happy space is when I am part of a team. Growing up and even still to this day, I have played team sports. I dislike running any sort of distance because after about 30 minutes with my own mind, I am bored. I joined the military at 17 years old and went to military college. It is incredibly difficult to be alone in the military, there are always people around. What I loved most about my job was that I got to work with a variety of people every day, and as an officer I think my success was predicated partly on my ability to effectively communicate, learn, and form relationships with people. But now that I have retired from the military, my venue for learning, for talk-think-talking, from engaging with people from all sorts of backgrounds and with variety of different experiences has mostly disappeared.

I miss the ability to talk-think-talk. That is why I now write-read-write. It is how I now learn, grow and expand my thinking about people. While I do it primarily for my own purposes, I share it because maybe it helps others who are of a similar ilk.