The Pros and Cons of Dreamers and Doers
Dreamers who can’t get things done waste talent and resources. Doers who can’t dream reach too low.
Doers have their feet on the ground and their head in the sand. Dreamers have their feet in the air and their head in the clouds.
- Believe everything is up for improvement.
- Think decisions are soft squishy things.
- Say yes to new ideas easily.
- Leap to the next level when it’s not necessary. Dreamers frustrate doers when they keep saying, “What about ….”
- Prefer starting to finishing.
- Hate systems and repetition. Nothing has to be done the same way twice.
- Underestimate difficulties.
- Overestimate opportunities.
- Chase new ideas like the fox chases rabbits.
- Wonder why doers drag their feet.
Bonus: Progress is enough.
- Prefer finishing to perfecting.
- Think decisions are things to be acted on, not rethought.
- Feel fulfilled when projects are completed.
- Say no to new ideas easily. “It’s a great idea, but somebody has to do it.”
- Love systems. Excellence is a well-oiled machine that produces excellent results reliably with minimal input or oversight.
- Stay focused like a dog on a bone.
- Make up reasons why it won’t work. They have a low tolerance for learning as you go.
- Evaluate new ideas skeptically.
- Wish dreamers would just finish something.
- Choose the path to success quickly. Creating options is over-rated.
Bonus: Just get it done.
- Begin with dreamers end with doers.
- Listen to dreamers for ideas.
- Listen to doers about execution.
- Potential options paralyze dreamers. Potential problems paralyze doers.
- Dreamers are paralyzed by options. “What if we miss something?”
- Everyone is both a doer and a dreamer in varying degrees.
- Getting stuff done takes you further than dreaming without action.
Dreams are good; action is best.
What frustrates you about dreamers? Doers?
How do leaders best leverage the strengths of dreamers and doers?
This is a great condensation of a really complex mix! Finding the common connection is so vital.. shared purpose, and maintaining that focus…
Thanks Ken. Mismanaging doers and dreamers is easy to do.
I’m a dreamer. Because I didn’t understand doers they frustrated me. Now I love them! Plus, I’m learning to be a doer by watching and listening to the doers in my life.
A great concept for dreamers and doers. “Listen to dreamer for ideas and listen to doers for execution” is really powerful concept. I agree with you that one should be first dreamer and then end being doer. It is also true that dreaming is good, but action is always better. However, there is deep linkage between dreaming and doing. Many people do and then based on achievement, failure and experience, understand their capabilities and potentials. And they dream bigger. Many people dream first, plan and then go in systematic way. They also calculate pros and cons. But second category of people, rely more on calculation, logic and data. First category of people, rely more on their experience and learn more from setbacks. Given the situation, second category of people, put more effort and have less fear. They know, how they can avoid making mistakes.
Leaders can play pivotal role by aligning dreamers and doers. They can do so by evaluating efforts and outcomes of both. They can also provide bigger picture by showing underpinnings that drive both dreamers and doers.
Thanks Dr. Gupta. I appreciate that you connect dreaming and doing. My statement that doing is better than dreaming missing that connection.
Bringing dreamers and doers together is a great opportunity as long as each respects the other and they leverage each other’s strengths. In addition, dreaming is not an exemption from getting things done.
You always get us thinking Dan. Somedays I dream more than do. Thankfully other days I do more than dream. I do find that I get a little nuts when I’m in a meeting and people keep talking and talking and talking. I’ve caught myself tuning out on the conversation and just beginning to “do” part of the project so a part will get done while they just talk on seemingly endlessly.
You help me think about my traits. I never stop dreaming. I’m also a pretty good doer. I’m self motivated, set my own goals and jump in. My biggest challenge is finishing. When I get 90% there, I start to feel like I can coast. That last 10% feels like the entire project for me.
Thanks for always making me think.
Thanks Dauna. Your comment re: 90% is exactly what a dreamer said to me last week. 🙂
The division in this post is artificial in order to highlight the qualities of each type. As you rightly indicate, we are both. I’m excited that I’m much more a doer than I used to be. But, I’m a dreamer at heart.
This post, like nearly all I write, is a self-reflection of my own journey and my journey with other leaders. I’m glad to get you thinking about yours.
Great post. Not much to add except I wonder if it would be productive to try pairing up dreamers and doers and ask them to see each other’s strengths and weaknesses in order to both learn and delegate with each other.
Thanks James. I agree. Shining the light on our differences is an opportunity to leverage each other’s strengths. I find that people who are strongly in one category or another find it very difficult to celebrate diversity.
Combining the strengths of doers and dreamers is one of the goals of the Speed Mentoring session at the Empowering Our Region Through Mentoring and Leaderships conference (Oct. 23, Campus Theatre, Lewisburg, EmpoweringOurRegion.com), where Dan Rockwell is the keynote speaker. Under the umbrella philosophy that no one has a monopoly on information, and we all have skills to share, people with divergent strengths are matched indiscriminately. The potential? Participants learn from each other in mini-sessions that could play out to real mentor/mentee relationships that share and build skills.
Thanks Susquehanna…, I’m excited to speak at Empowering our Region Through Mentoring and Leadership conference. Glad you took this opportunity to spread the word.
Doers have their feet on the ground and their head in the sand. Dreamers have their feet in the air and their head in the clouds…….I can’t stop laughing….
Yes we all are a mix of both to varied degrees. But what % mix of both is a right formula is circumstance specific, may depends upon the role, function, state of status and the tenacity to stretch your imagination, visualisation ,dream etc. Still a right mix of short term(doer) and long term(dreamer)objectives push you ahead.
Thanks Hitansu. Glad you explored the mix of these traits in each of us. Sometimes we have to bring out our inner dreamer. Other times – more frequently – we have to bring out our inner doer.
“Everyone is both a doer and a dreamer in varying degrees.”
Is there a self-analysis questionnaire available that would allow persons to understand where they fit within that equation and the potential adjustments they could make that might improve their performance?
Thanks Naldo. Great question. I don’t know of one. Wish I could be more help.
Where do you see more of yourself on the two lists in this post?
Definitely more of a “doer,” although I am also quite innovative and thus would have “dreamer” qualities.
In the past, I found the feedback I received after taking the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator assessment (I’m an INTJ), on strengths and areas for improvement to help me greatly in adjust my approach when interacting with or leading people. Any qualitative feedback when undergoing any such assessments goes a long way.
Thanks for the post (and the many others that I read daily!). I like to think of myself as having both of these traits — but I think my leaning toward decision making puts me more in the “doer” camp. This makes me think of Lean/Agile processes where we are pushed to be both. It all starts with a dream. But then once we can start doing, we do it, do something, so that we can get something to put in front of people and test whether our dreams resonate and/or make sense to others. If we “just do it” then possibly we won’t get so attached to the original dream, so we can modify.
Thanks Kim. The idea that we start with a dream but move into the doer role is so useful. We want to avoid limiting our success by saying “I’m a dreamer not a doer.” If you aren’t a doer, you aren’t going very far.
Testing our dreams takes humility. As you suggest, attachment is an issue. It often closes our minds. We become stubborn and arrogant.
Excellent article. Everyone who want to succeed should aspire to be both a dreamer and a doer; dreaming without doing is nothing but whirlwind. Dreaming can illuminate the path but we learn through doing, thereby developing a bigger capacity to dream. Those who work hard to turn their dreams into reality are the real dreamers; the rest are wishful thinkers.
Thanks Provost-Dean. Learning as we do is essential in this conversation. Talking is helpful but we never really learn until we take action.
It just goes to show, it is all about Teamwork and being tolerant of each person’s behavioral style.
Thanks Patrick. We might go so far as to say we could maximize each person’s behavioral style.
Nothing like a well-oiled team. 🙂
I like what you said about MAXIMIZING the person’s behavior style. That is far more productive than just being tolerant.
Understanding our personal split between dreamer and doer is a great advantage. 🙂
I suspect there are other distinctions that might mark these categories. My experience suggests that context and focus are variables that shift the emphasis for many people. I don’t think everyone is always a dreamer or always a doer – depending upon circumstances we can fall into either camp. There may be a general tendency one way or the other but as Stuartart indicated, knowing the conditions and your orientation at that point can provide more useful insights. I’m lucky to operate in a team where we work in action – we do and test in the smae space as we plan and speculate. Always driven by a dream and tempered by prevailing conditions – some might call it agility…