Loose Change

Leonardo da Vinci and the value of procrastination

Posted in Musings by Neeraj on 05/27/2010
Are you a habitual procrastinator? Do you find yourself routinely putting off important activities that need to be urgently finished simply because you find working on one particular thing too limiting and you can think up a dozen things that you’d rather be working on? Well, you’re not alone, and what’s more, you’re in distinguished company. The March 2009 edition of the ClassicalPursuits newsletter carried an interesting piece on Leonardo da Vinci’s habit of procrastination: How to Procastinate Like Leonardo da Vinci. The article was interesting because it challenged the common perception of procrastination as being a wasteful activity better avoided by anyone aiming to make best use of his/her time. In reality however, the article argues, procrastination may have its own benefits and  Leonardo da Vinci’s life gives us ample clues that this is indeed so.

In the course of his life, da Vinci — quintessential renaissance man and arguably the most gifted polymath of all time — chronicled hundreds of ideas in his notebooks. Is is clear even from the fraction of notebooks that have survived to this day that da Vinci’s ideas ran a vast gamut of the human experience, ranging from painting, sculpture, geometry, anatomical studies, to the design of military tanks and flying machines. However, da Vinci was  seldom able to complete (to his own satisfaction) the projects that he started. Even his most celebrated work of art, the Mona Lisa, was still in his possession when he died (apparently, he had still not finished it to his liking). The mainstream view contends that this lack of follow-through is attributable solely to da Vinci’s “fault” of procrastination. In my opinion, however, it is hard to say whether this “fault” should take all the blame. For instance, da Vinci was known to be an incorrigible perfectionist, always striving to match his work to its conceptualization in his head. This may explain why he finished very few of his projects because he would keep tinkering and fiddling with his works even when they looked perfect to others. Of course, procrastination may explain why he started so few projects in the first place. For example, all the compulsive note-taking may have been da Vinci’s way of avoiding working on any one specific idea in reality.

Does this mean that procrastination is altogether bad? It’s a hard question (more…)

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From the horse’s mouth: How to work with INTPs

Posted in Musings by Neeraj on 05/23/2010

I’m an INTP and I’ve often felt that the rest of the world doesn’t really “get” how to interact with us. In this post, I’ll explain my thoughts on how to approach and deal with an average INTP person. Since, the post title may be a little misleading, I’d like to clarify that this post is not specifically about dealing with INTPs in your workplace (although you could very well apply these principles there too!).

First off, for those who are not fans of personality tests or  who do not know about MBTI personality types, INTP is one of the 16 personality types in the Myers-Briggs personality classification system (wikipedia). MBTI type indicators were developed by Isabel Briggs Myers and Katherine Briggs and was derived from C. J. Jung’s theory on psychological types early in the 20th century. Here is a brief description of how the system works:

The identification and description of the 16 distinctive personality types that result from the interactions among thepreferences.”

Excerpted with permission from the MBTI® Manual: A Guide to the Development and Use of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator®

Favorite world: Do you prefer to focus on the outer world or on your own inner world? This is called Extraversion (E) or Introversion (I).

Information: Do you prefer to focus on the basic information you take in or do you prefer to interpret and add meaning? This is called Sensing (S) or Intuition (N).

Decisions: When making decisions, do you prefer to first look at logic and consistency or first look at the people and special circumstances? This is called Thinking (T) or Feeling (F).

Structure: In dealing with the outside world, do you prefer to get things decided or do you prefer to stay open to new information and options? This is called Judging (J) or Perceiving (P).

Your Personality Type: When you decide on your preference in each category, you have your own personality type, which can be expressed as a code with four letters.

Source.

INTPs are one of the rarest personality types (by some estimates, they make up only 1% of the entire population). It is important to understand exactly what makes an INTP ‘tick.’ This page is a good start (and so is this one, for those who prefer shorter descriptions). INTPs are usually described asThinkers, which is to say they live mostly in their heads. INTPs view the world around them with a great deal of logical detachment. In addition, they are fiercely independent, consciously striving to be different from other people. INTPs also detest facades and greatly value frankness, both in demeanor and in conversation. This means that they do not much go for small talk or social niceties that are valued by ‘normal’ people with more extroverted personalities. Because these personality traits often make them seem cold, aloof, and uninterested (more…)