Think About This

When was the last time you stopped to think? I mean think, really really think. When was the last time you turned off, completely off, all your gadgets, screens, and computer to just sit quietly in thought?

If you’re like most people it’s probably been a long time, a very long time. Thinking, really thinking, about yourself, your life, and your legacy has never been harder. That little helper you carry around everywhere you go (some people call it a Smartphone) robs you of truly quiet time. 

These days “thinking” is too often equated with day dreaming and it’s frowned upon. If you have time to think then apparently you aren’t productive enough. If you have time to think then you have extra “bandwidth” and you should be doing something real with it, not wasting it thinking.” That’s what bad bosses and poor leaders believe anyway.

The fact is thinking, truly thinking, can be one of the most productive activities you will ever do. I’m not talking about becoming “lost in thought,” just the opposite, I’m talking about being “found in thought.”

I suppose some people might call it critical thinking but I’m not smart enough to write about that. What I’m talking about is just slowing down enough and eliminating the distractions that are now so common we don’t even realize they are distractions, and just considering your life. 

Your phone is a distraction, the little noise your computer makes every time an email arrives is a distraction. The sound machine you use to block out distractions is a distraction. Great thinking requires silence and solitude, as in the absence of noise and distractions.

If fact, maybe reflection is a more accurate term then just thinking. Whatever you want to call it, maybe I’ll call it reflective thinking, just stopping everything else to think from time to time has real benefits. 

It helps you learn from your mistakes. I wouldn’t encourage anyone to dwell on their mistakes but investing at least a little time to reflect on how they happen helps ensure we don’t endlessly repeat them. Mistakes can be a great learning tool, if we stop long enough to consider how they happen and what to do differently next time. 

Thinking is where great ideas originate. Taking stock of where you are in life, in your relationships, in your career, and just in general provides you with a guide for planning your future. It’s really difficult to know how to get someplace if you don’t know where you are to begin with. You might get lucky and things will work out but I for one don’t really want to count on luck for my success.

Thinking gives you fresh perspectives. Everybody, well most everybody, likes a good pity party now and then. True reflection brings that to a halt pretty quickly. I’d hazard a guess that on your worst day you’re better off than most people. Life is made up of good and bad and if you invest your time thinking about the good you’ll see just how much good there really is to enjoy.

If you really want to invest some time in reflective thinking then you’ll need to develop some discipline to do. If you were to look at my calendar you would see 30 minutes, everyday, every single day, set aside for planning. That’s my time, it’s from 5:00-5:30am each morning. I’m the only one in the house awake at that time, there are no distractions and most of that time I’m just thinking. A good many of these blog posts are thought up during that time. I take just a few minutes looking back at yesterday to see what I need to be better at today. I make a plan to get closer to one of my goals that very day. The 30 minutes fly by.

I do it at the same time everyday, no matter what else is going on. It’s safe to say those 30 minutes are the most valuable minutes of my day and I rarely give them up for anything. 

What do you think about the idea of stopping everything just to think? If you have ever thought about doing it then set aside some time, some distraction free time, and give it a try today. Please don’t tell me that you don’t have time, I won’t accept that as an excuse. It’s a question of priorities, not time.

Oh, just one other little caveat…thinking is vital to success but all the thinking in the world does little good if it isn’t followed up by doing. 

12 thoughts on “Think About This

  1. Not having the time is an excuse. It’s all about priorities and commitment. If it’s important enough you’ll find a way to make the time. If it’s not important you’ll find numerous ways to rationalize the importance.

    Steve, I agree. It’s such a challenge staying focused. Too many distractions.

    I commend you for taking 30 minutes in the morning. I wonder what happens (if it does happen) when on occasion you don’t take time to reflect at 5a? What’s your day like?


    1. That’s a great question. The days I miss “my time” are just not the same. I’m usually rushed from the start and I’m just “off” a bit all day. There really is no recovery from it. I can’t recall missing two days in a row but I’m betting it wouldn’t be pretty. One thing I’ve noticed, my presentations are never as good on those days. I don’t suppose anyone would notice but I do.

  2. Thanks for a thoughtful post.

    Sorry, couldn’t resist.

    I regularly have some good ideas while I’m taking a shower, since there had better not be any electronic gizmos distracting me in there. But mainly, like you, I wake up first and, after feeding the cat who really wakes up first, I do the thinking and planning that get me through the rest of the day. As you noted, just because we have all these electronic helpers doesn’t mean they have to be helping us all the time. I’ve still got paper and ink pens too. And my brain, fortunately.

  3. Good post Steve.

    I recently watched (again…hadn’t seen it in a long time) A Beautiful Mind with Russel Crowe which is very loosely based on the life of John Nash. ( not entirely precise or accurate) A brilliant mind who also suffered from schizophrenia. He eventually won a Nobel memorial prize.

    I mention him not to compare with his inherent gifts of the mind and genius…that was something he was born with…yet something in the movie stayed with me. I have no idea if the man actually said it or if it was part of the story line and script. In the movie he said,

    “The best result comes from everyone doing what’s best for himself and everyone else in the group.”

    Very altruistic! And I liked it! Imagine if we took the time each day to determine not only what was best for ourselves but everyone else within our immediate sphere of influence. And perhaps beyond when applicable?

    Far easier said than done, however, it would definitely be a noble goal.

    Another area of thought that I consciously have done for over a decade is think about what I believe and why I believe it. Another area that is far easier said than done, yet can be helpful to consider where some of our beliefs come from. Did we acquire them with careful consideration and thought? Or did we mindlessly accept some of them without question because we trusted the people who taught us?

    At some point it really is best to start thinking for ourselves. And it truly is ‘hard labor’ to do!

    Thanks for sharing Steve.

    1. Thanks Samantha, so I just imagined a world where everyone does what’s best for everyone else and now I have John Lennon’s song in my head…😏 but it is a wonderful thought.

      1. I realize it was by no means a new concept! haha Simply the most recent reminder of it. Linked to another movie….of course!

        Taking that concept when it comes to business though is also something I’ve mentioned before. It’s not enough to simply have a successful business that makes a lot of money. A business should be considered successful if it doesn’t harm the consumers, the population in general, and/or the planet.

        In that light, how many businesses are truly successful? i.e. tobacco industry, fast food franchise, etc.

        Yes, ‘we the people’ buy the products which indicates value. Yet if the products are killing us, doesn’t that indicate the values of the people are also ‘off’?

        Heck, even the porn industry can be considered ‘successful’ by population value and how much money these businesses earn.

        When we live in a world or nation where the ‘gladiators’ of our time (sports professionals) and actors make MILLIONS and our school teachers, nurses, law enforcement (etc) make LESS than a hundred grand a year….. our values are definitely upside down.

        And I would love to see all of us go beyond money as an indicator for success and also consider what the long term consequences are for the existence of business and product x,y,z. If it does no harm….that would be a true success!

        Thanks again for inspiring ‘thought’. πŸ˜‰

        Now I have to go back to thinking about Microbiology today. (grins)

      2. I’ve often said the money is a very poor indicator of success, it is a measure of one kind of success but not overall success.

        I agree with you but would add a business, to be truly successful, not only shouldn’t harm people, it must in some way help them. It should add real value to their life, making it easier, safer, etc.

      3. Yes! Great addition Steve!

        As I type this….my 17 year old daughter is going bonkers over the latest Pokemon app on the iPhone…apparently there has been a Pokemon sighting down the street at Winco…(grins)

        Not sure what the benefit is except for a waste of time, but apparently it is all the rage this week for the kids (even teenagers!) haha

  4. We spoke too soon Steve! It is now being reported that some robbers have used the new Pokemon app to lure victims to areas to rob them.

    And some users are experiencing injuries because they are viewing the phone screen while walking, skateboarding etc.

    One girl ran into a tree, another fell into a hole.

    Unbelievable !!

Leave a Reply