When it comes to thinking, less is more.
In the early years of life, our thoughts are simple and focused on the present:
- “I’m hungry.”
- “I’m sleepy.”
- “Give me that iPad.”
The average adult, however, has 50,000+ thoughts a day.
A good 95% of these thoughts are redundant, the same ones they had the day before.
And many of them revolve around anxiety and worry.
Emotionally intelligent leaders are more like children: They minimize unnecessary thinking.
🧠 “Ouch, that’s hot, I won’t touch that again,” thinks the five-year-old.
🧠 “This client is asking lots of questions. I’ll find out what their real concern is,” thinks the emotionally intelligent leader.
This is functional thinking – intentional and proactive.
🚫 “Ouch, that’s hot, why do I keep touching that? I did that last week too, what’s wrong with me?” thinks the adult
🚫 “This client is asking too many questions, what did we do wrong, I can’t afford to lose them,” thinks the ego-driven leader.
This is emotional thinking – automatic and reactive.
You can’t control or repress your thoughts, but you can manage them.
By getting them out of your head:
- Schedule a time to worry, e.g. 3:00 pm.
- Make a list: “Things I’m Worried About.”
- For each item on the list, ask: Is there something I can do?
If not, tell yourself: “We’re not going to think about this right now.”
If there is: come up with one micro-action you could take.
Do this every day, and watch your thinking change.
p.s. Optimizing your thinking is a major focus of my Evolving Faster leadership program. If you’re ready to level up as a leader, see if the program’s a good fit here.