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Kasper Zülow

Thinkers and dooers

Doing and thinking are different skills. It’s possible to be a great practitioner and lack clear theories about how success works. This happens more often than you’d think.

Consider using a can opener. You’re probably already an expert practitioner in can openers, and you’ve probably opened thousands of cans in your lifetime. Yet, if I asked you if you could explain how a can opener works, could you?

The difficulty you’re experiencing is known as the illusion of explanatory depth. Just having a lot of experience with something doesn’t necessarily make you great at understanding how it works. In fact, in one experiment researchers were able to get participants to steadily improve their design of a mechanism—yet nobody had the correct theory for why it worked.​*​

This is why we need separate theorists in the first place, because simply doing a lot isn’t guaranteed to generate the right abstract-level theory about how it works.

Are doers good?

Good doers are “natural’ volunteers. They like to participate in activities that require actual work, even without pay. And while volunteering is great, good doers make sure that they leave enough time for themselves. They schedule their volunteer work appropriately so they don’t tire themselves out.

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Kasper Riis Zülow