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.