Input vs Output

(Originally posted on 4.04.2013 on

The amount of time we have to actually contribute anything into the world is pretty small. I think about this in context with how much time I’ve had in the world thus far and I can categorize the time in terms of input and output like this:

0-16: 100% Input. This time pretty much consisted of what my family taught me, people I spoke to, places I visited, what school taught me, movies I watched, books I read, and music I listened to.

16-22: 75% Output, 25% Input. As my interest in school waned and my family supported my interest in music and making things, I was able to drastically up my output number. Since I was still at the age where I really had no responsibility in terms of supporting myself, this was pretty easy to do.

22-26: 55% Output, 45% Input. After college, that damned thing called “real life” hit me and I had to make sure I was doing that silly thing called “making money”. This definitely lowered my output, but has set me up with a new set of skills and experiences that I think is starting to help me create more time to output more.

My goal for what’s left of 26 through my early 30’s, is to get to an output level somewhere around 95%. I believe I’ll be able to do this as everyday I become more aware and able to block out what’s unnecessary, and de-prioritize things that are just reactionary vs true output.

You may be asking, “What’s so wrong with high-input?” The answer in my opinion is all about timing. High-input is absolutely crucial at certain points in your life. There’s times where you should be reading everything you can get your hands on, talking to everybody you can, and soaking up all the information to really get to understand your area of interest. However, the hole I see many people fall into is not allowing endings to periods like this. You see this in people who never want to leave school. You must choose to end your period of high-input so you can focus and actually utilize the information you’ve just absorbed. Otherwise what’s the point?

Don’t forget, what you can accomplish in an output cycle is actually what you’re going to leave behind to the world! The amount of information in your brain will not be something the world remembers you by. Even Einstein, the person most people still think of when envisioning “the smartest person” who held tremendous knowledge, isn’t actually remembered because of the knowledge he held. He’s remembered for his output: The theorems he published and the projects he contributed to. Otherwise he’d just be another dead smart person.

Don’t be another dead smart person, be someone who left things behind that didn’t exist without you. If this is resonating with you, I encourage you to put the blinders on for a bit, and produce.

Picture is of my feet, while climbing in the South of France.

Marc Plotkin