It started, like this note, with a blob. A canary yellow smudge of paint in the middle of the white canvas pallet. A few more strokes of the instructor’s brush, and two circles emerged, one balancing precariously on top of the other… But what is it?, my 7 year old self wondered. After another few strokes, suddenly it was clear: the yellow head and body of a baby chicken. When the instructor then drew a dark black line around the bird, my life was changed forever: until then, I never knew you could paint by filling in the middle before drawing the lines.
There are two types of people: blob people and line people. Blob people explore life like the yellow canary painting: putting color down first, and seeing what emerges. They wander across the pages of their lives, and when they find something shiny, stop, and let the ink in their pen saturate that part of their story. You know them: the guys who picked their major in college based on what department they happened to have the most courses in. Or that friend who moved to a foreign country because they were curious. If you ask them to identify a good investment, they’ll probably cock their heads to a side, remember a cool article and exhibit they saw about 3D printing, and suggest looking there.
Line people, by contrast, are the planners, who draw the black line first, and then fill the rest in according to their outline. They have their act together. Line people figure the exact combination of courses and hours they need to get into medical schools, or how to hit all of Rome’s best tourist spots in 12 hours. Ask them to identify a good investment, and they’ll structure you a spreadsheet of recommendations, with weightings for risk appetite and investment horizon. You know them too.
A mix of these personalities can achieve incredible (and fun) things. And indeed, many people that have defined history are blob people who figured out how to draw a line around what they were working on: the men that drafted the sentiments of the rebellious colonies into the US Constitution; business leaders who took intuition about market trends built railroads; religious prophets that used memorable parables to define good and evil in ways that resonated across the world for centuries; scientists who captured observed curiosities in universe in simple equations; writers who defined the subtle sensations of the human experience in words that affect how we see the world ourselves.
To finish this Aabservation, I suppose I should draw a final clear black line around the idea that emerged over the past paragraphs. Namely, this post postulated personalities of three types of people: (a) Blob people, (b) Line people, and (c) Blob people who draw lines.