“Don’t be afraid to write lots of garbage (but also don’t throw any of it away). Have a very large storage system for all that garbage, because it’s only garbage in context. It may turn out to be a treasure in some other context you haven’t discovered yet.”

Courtney Balestier


“It was the in-between time, before day leaves and night comes, a time I’ve never been partial to because of the sadness that lingers in the space between going and coming.”

The Secret Life of Bees, Sue Monk Kidd


Thinking has a lot of garbage and a lot of in-between time. Unfortunately, today’s world has little use for what is judged garbage in the present, or even the past, and even less use for “in-between” putting the highest value on “useful now.”

This makes the world really really difficult for most thinkers because, if they are honest, they get a lot wrong initially and most thinking may have seeds of smartness and truth initially, but other than that, well, a lot is garbage. I call it “not quite right” thinking. Taleb called them “half invented ideas.”  The ideas that didn’t get traction immediately and, well, if we are honest, business life and our own spans of attention tend to discard an idea if it doesn’t show immediate possibilities or success. But if you keep the fragments of good ideas around, and twist them around a bit every once in a while, like a kaleidoscope eventually they can come together in a vivid image. Voila, your garbage has turned into non garbage. Your half invented becomes a useful invention.

Which leads me to suggest there is a relationship between useful garbage and speed – as in play, pause, rewind & fast forward.

The truth is that every good self-aware thinker has a panel in their head with a play, pause, rewind and fast forward button. They have the ability to see things in real time, i.e., what has occurred up to that point and, in some way, can envision the ripples of what happens from there. Within that ability they decide to fast forward, or pause, or continue playing at the same speed or even decide to rewind a little. They see reality and decide how to best take advantage of it. I would suggest the best garbage users have this ability.

That said. Some thinkers have one speed. These are ‘the bull in china shop’ asshats who only know forward at some fast speed bludgeoning and blustering their way forward. Then there are others like golf carts steadily chugging along at steady long play. Idea management, i.e., sifting through the garbage, demands a bit of all and each and nuanced use.

Well. Today’s world is structurally hostile to nuance. Subtlety not only doesn’t sell because it invokes that wretched inbetween ‘space’ in which others are more than willing to place something. It is easy to go one speed <or just stop when you get tired>. It takes touch and nuance to pause at the right time, rewind accordingly, fast forward through some difficulties or to take advantage of windows of opportunity or, well, just keep playing <which is sometime tougher than what you would think>.

To be a consistently good thinker is not about maintaining one speed, but rather maintaining a consistent sense for how to adjust pacing accordingly and when, and where, to pick through the garbage.

Which leads me to humility.

In today’s business world we like to have simple formulas and handbook guides. Pacing is more ‘feel’ and awareness and … well … yeah … some humility. I say humility because no matter how good a thinker you are and no matter how good your pacing is there will always be some issues <mostly because you get some things wrong>. Part of the ‘wrong’ portion is you inevitably leave some people behind and some ‘minds’ get a little scattered. And you have to get them back on track and aligned and sometimes you have to step up and show a little humility, admit some things are garbage, maybe even sift through other people’s garbage, and everyone resets when you do that, gives you another chance and get a little reenergized to pick up their bags and hit the road with you again.

In the end, all garbage has value. It may not all turn into a treasure someday, but it all shapes perspective. And perspective is imperative in the in-between time when outlines of some really important things can be a bit vague. Sometimes the garbage is what gets you out of the in-between. And maybe that is the most important point I have shared today. Ponder.

Written by Bruce