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Talk less, do more

"I never learn anything talking. I only learn things when I ask questions."
- Lou Holtz

I have come across people I work with blocking their calendar for an entire work day. Try setting up a meeting on that day and it will automatically get declined. I set up blocks of time on my calendar as well when I do this.

Talk to anyone at a corporate (even many startups nowadays) and you will likely hear that they are so busy doing their job, responding to emails, and attending meetings that they don't find the time to do any work.

This is the difference between work and busywork. Busywork sucks your time and gives you the illusion that you are making progress, when you really aren't. It is a lot like talking. Have you ever been in a discussion when you have been doing the majority of the talking?

Talking a lot keeps the conversation going, but it leaves no room for listening.

The difference between work and busywork is that work is what creates value and busywork is what fills the time. Creating value is not just spewing out what we already know. Majority of the time is spent in researching and learning and exploring ideas. Only ten percent of the time is spent in actually creating value. The other ninety percent goes into preparation and research. For example, I read about ten articles on average for every one that I write. I can't write without ever reading. And a musician can't create music without ever having listened to music.

Creating value in a conversation involves listening. Only when you listen can you say something relevant and meaningful. If all one does is talk, that is akin to doing busywork where the value created might be close to zilch. We don't learn anything by talking. We learn by asking questions and listening.

So talk less, do more.

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