Usually when I make a distinction, I am trying to point out the subtle differences between words and to highlight the one that is preferred (usually truer to what you mean). Today, however, while I want to point out the differences between being a doer and a thinker, my point is to show that that’s all they are – just different! Neither is better or worse than the other, they are really just different styles to approaching problems, and life in general.
If you’re not familiar with The Myers-Briggs Personality Test , it is a test that evaluates your responses to a set of questions and determines what is called your personality “type”. There are actually 4 scales (or continuums) that define you as one of 16 types based. Your type is determined by your answers to a series of multiple choice questions that you are asked to answer from the standpoint of what best describes you and has nothing to do with what’s right or wrong. The four scales* are:
First Letter: E or I — Which is your most favored Energy Source?
Second Letter: S or N — Which your most favored Perceiving Mental Process?
Third Letter: T or F — Which is your most favored Judging Mental Process?
Fourth Letter: J or P — Which kind of mental process leads your Outside World Orientation?
*See note below.
The first question, “Which is your most favored Energy Source” is the continuum that has to do with Doing and Thinking. The letters E and I actually refer to Extroverted and Introverted. While we usually define those words in terms of how we interact with other people, in fact here they are used to define how you process information. Bottom line, an E(xtrovert) is a doer and an I(ntrovert) is a thinker.
As a rule, we tend to think our way is the way to approach life, but nothing could be further from the truth. This often creates problems, especially when one is in close relationship with a person on the opposite end of the continuum. Doers can’t understand why thinkers just sit around and “do” nothing. Thinkers can’t understand why doers act “without” thought. This can lead to many arguments until we begin to understand that our way isn’t better, it’s just our way.
The easiest way to determine which one you are is to look at how you generally tend to solve problems. Both types follow the same process, however, the big difference is on WHEN they take action. A doer will come up with a preliminary game plan, often through talking it out with others and start taking action on that plan almost immediately. As their actions produce different results, either bringing them closer or further away from a solution, they tweak their action plan until it works. A thinker will find a quiet place and “think through” the process, determining potential results or stumbling block, tweaking the action plan until it is “almost” a complete workable solution, THEN they start actually doing. The first is an external process; the second an internal one.
The result is that people of both types actually arrive at a final solution around the same time. However, the stress generated by judging how the other person is working on the solution creates a lot of unnecessary anger and resentment, which can get in the way of either individual coming up with a solution.
So, as you interact with people today, start noticing if they are a doer or a thinker. Knowing this about the people around you (either personal or work related) can go a long way in creating harmonious relations that move you forward on your path to wholeness. As a rule, once you are aware of your style and their style, your increased respect and acceptance for the other style makes that harmony a reality.