Writing in Leadership magazine, Gordon McDonald poses this question:
“What have been the thoughts that have been dominating my leader think-time?”
Ask yourself this question. Think carefully. Write down your answers.
The first problem, as I see it, is that few leaders even have a “leader thought time.” For years I’ve advocated scheduling 15 minutes each day to think. That means arming yourself with nothing more than something to write with. The problem is that most leaders would rather be doing than thinking, and that usually creates uninformed or ineffective action.
The second problem is that we often tend towards negative thoughts: our worries, concerns and fears. The rub isn’t that we shouldn’t be considering such thoughts, but that they predominate our thinking. We often don’t get to the noble, lofty, aspirational thoughts that make us look up instead of down.
The third problem, potentially, is that thinking ends in the abstract rather than the concrete. If you make time to think, you need to couple that with action planning. What will you do as a result of the thoughts that you’ve had?
The good news: 3 potential problems avoided = 1 huge opportunity. Making time to think both realistic and aspirational thoughts will take your leadership higher, especially as you do the hard but necessary work to turn those thoughts into reality.
Great point. “As a man thinketh” and all that. It is so easy to get caught up in our bias for action that we neglect the foundation of that action: making sure we’re moving in the right direction the right way.
As much as most leaders gravitate towards initiating action (myself included), I’m often reminded how important disciplined thought is. Regularly making time to review our purpose, overview the situation, and ponder the possibilities will often generate more value in how we use our resources: time, effort, money, and time – and we are responsible for leading ALL of them.
Thanks for the reminder, Mark…yet again!
The OTHER Mark
“The good news: 3 potential problems avoided = 1 huge opportunity.” This is really fantastic. Thank you!
And, very recently, I read the book, “The Noticer” by Andy Andrews and while I enjoyed the entire contents of the book, this part of the book especially had a huge impact on me:
“When doubts and fears assail us, we subconsciously calculate the possibilities. ‘This might really happen!’ we tell ourselves, or “What will happen if…?” “And soon, we are so paralyzed by the idea that disaster is imminent that we cannot function in our work. and even our relationships dissolve. We have imagined our way to self-destruction. What you must do – to defeat bad logic with good – is to deflect your subconscious from calculating possibilities. Instead, direct your mind to calculate the odds. You can learn very quickly to calculate the odds of an event occurring and eliminate it as even a remote possibility in your life.
Many people who worry too much say that they cannot focus – that it costs them their jobs and relationships. That is incorrect. A person consumed by worry can focus. Isn’t it obvious? Worry is focus! But it is focus on the wrong things. You are now equipped to calculate the odds. From this point forward, you will focus on what can be controlled. And you will no longer be sad or worried. You will be grateful. After all, the seeds of depression cannot take root in a grateful heart. ”
And another book which I really enjoyed reading a few years ago is “Write It Down, Make It Happen: Knowing What You Want And Getting It” ~ Henriette Anne Klauser
Thanks and regards,