The Practical Utility of Abstract Thinking

September 16th, 2008

How does one take a totally abstract idea, mold it, shape it, then transform it into millions? Some folks do this routinely, turning zero into infinity over and over again. Checkout “The Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders lecture series” to hear from the masters.

Listening to these folks, it’s clear that they don’t do it for the money. The cash is nice, but it’s not the driver. For them, the fascination, focus, and total obsession is with the idea, a tiny seed of abstract thought that can potentially grow into practical “must have” contraptions of astronomical scale. And herein lies the practical utility of abstract thinking. The abstract spawns the practical. We must have an idea to start. No idea, no practical result. And these guys will tell you that the initial idea is usually pretty crappy; it’s the constant stretch thinking and refining that transforms the starter idea from worthless to superstar. The entrepreneur has to mature his idea in the abstract before developing and executing in the practical.

The abstract stage is critical since it determines where risks will be taken as well as where all resources will be spent – essentially the farm bet. This stage determines the success or failure of the venture. Certainly, the the execution phase is also critically important, but even flawless execution is irrelevant if the seed concept is underdeveloped.

So take every opportunity you can to build your abstract muscle. We have plenty of time for practical experience; our world is filled with practical tasks. It’s the abstract thinking muscles that really atrophy if we don’t push them – and they have the biggest potential to contribute game changing discoveries.

Here at picomonster we specialize in transforming one of the most abstract concepts, the imaginary number, into a very concrete and physical interpretation. It’s brain candy and great exercise for the synapses if you’re game – you’ll actually feel them firing away. You can try it at our Applications of Imaginary Numbers in the Real World page. Have fun!

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