December 15, 2008

Kick off on thinking

Recent global events, and listening to the talk around town gives new meaning to the term “silly season”. It’s a great example of how poor thinking leads to disastrous actions and results.

It’s also a great opportunity for all of us to check own thinking. While we can’t alter what’s happening in many areas around us, we can impact the decisions we make about these events. Remember, you always find what you look for. When you focus on something, it lights up your neural networks that starts you looking at your circumstances and events from a filter looking for that thing. (A great example is you decide to buy a red car and all of a sudden see red cars everywhere).

Try this exercise: Look around you and notice all the blue in your room for about a minute. Then look back at this message and nothing else.

Now, still looking at this message - list all the green things in your room.

Get it? You find what you look for.

With regards to recent events and the economic downturn, how are you letting the news reports affect your own outlook and plans? What have you decided about your business and what’s possible for it in the near future? How can you view these events in a more detached way?

We’re all masters of our thinking, if not events around us.

This is not about being ignorant or unrealistic about what is factually happening – either to you or around you.

It’s the difference between being influenced and being informed by the events.
It is about realizing that effective thinking is the first critical element to success. Poor thinking leads to ineffective actions and poor results.

When we are fearful, our brain reacts in a fight or flight response, sending blood and resources to our limbs to prepare us for action….AWAY from our brain. Now, more then ever - especially those of you whose businesses are being challenged by the current events – you need clear, calm, powerful thinking to be able to take effective action.

Remember, articles and newscasts are designed to drive interest and sales. It pays for them to sensationalise events and focus on the most exciting aspects. Bad news is far more interesting than good.

Begin challenging your own assumptions. Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in awhile, or the light won't come in. ~Alan Alda

Try these out:

If you are feeling stressed, take a few minutes, relax your body and just focus on your breathing, notice if any thoughts come to mind and just let them be, then let them go. Do this until you start to settle down.

Create practices that assist you in thinking effectively about your future. For instance, notice how you react to news (good or bad) and in that moment, choose a different way to think about that news. How do you need to think? How can you view world events in a more productive manner?

As crazy as this sounds – do you need to read the paper today? Some days it really pays to put it aside. Or, look for success stories.

As you take stock of 2008, consider viewing your year through one of two filters: how you’ve succeeded and what you’ve learned. Then note down how you can apply this to future endeavors.

Thought is subversive and revolutionary, destructive and terrible, thought is merciless to privilege, established institutions, and comfortable habit. Thought looks into the pit of hell and is not afraid. Thought is great and swift and free, the light of the world, and the chief glory of man. ~Bertrand Russell

If you’re interested in learning more about managing your thinking or how the brain works, here’s two books worth reading:

“A User’s Guide To The Brain” John J. Ratey
“Learned Optimism” Martin E.P. Seligman

I’m away on holidays until Mid-January when I’ll pick up the thread on effective thinking.

I wish you all a great thinking holidays!


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