Many of the greatest leaders throughout history have utilized thinking time to create incredible results. Henry Ford said that thinking is the hardest thing to do and as a result, 95% of the population don’t do it. Instead, the vast majority of people essentially operate on auto pilot and react to what is happening in whatever environment they find themselves. We all have a belief system that has been formed within us that if left unchecked, will limit the impact we have, particularly as a leader. Intentional thinking will change that and allow us to be significantly more conscious of new ideas, approaches and perspectives.
Those who regularly practice this intentional habit of thinking enjoy at least 3 significant outcomes:
- You become deeply aware of your situation and by exploring alternative perspectives will enable options. Such new solutions will result in greater influence, impact and more profitable outcomes.
- You allow yourself to objectively examine the evidence supporting any limiting beliefs you may have. These limiting beliefs are generally buried deep in our subconscious mind and are rarely examined by those who lack the self-awareness to do so. Many of the limiting beliefs have been formed a long time ago by a variety of our experiences, statements that those in authority told us and general fears or anxiety that we all have. Leaders who do not intentionally examine the present evidence to support or refute such beliefs severely limit their ability to develop new perspectives, creative or innovative ideas. Intentional thinking allows you to fully examine the evidence because you are more open to the current reality and less tied to the past.
- You allow yourself to explore many alternatives, even the ones that seem impossible or completely out of reach. Many times, I personally take an issue I am dealing with and think through the issue until I have 25 ideas to address it. The outcome is always the same – I “create” a new approach that I hadn’t previously thought of leading to a much better outcome.
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Immediate Actions to Consider
- Plan 2-3 times per week to set aside 30 minutes of uninterrupted and distraction free time. Identify a specific topic and write your thoughts on that topic until you can get 25 on paper. Then go back and consider the pros and cons of the best ideas you have identified. Also, take time to reflect on the insights you have realized during this time. It will very powerful!
- Rather than allowing all the reasons to not take advantage of a new opportunity, allow yourself to think through the possibilities of the opportunity actually working if there were no pre-imposed limits, such as resource allocation, budget, etc. When you allow the possible to outweigh the seemingly impossible, new revelations will develop, allowing new approaches that will actually work!
- Write down any new ideas and perspectives that come to mind during this thinking time without judging them. Many times, the capturing of a seemingly ridiculous idea will lead to a new perspective and new idea that is actually quite possible to implement. Review your notes on a regular basis for new insights.
Question: What great insights have you developed during your thinking time? You can leave an answer in the space below.