Think About This…But NOT for Too Long

Thinking is a very good thing to do. It seems as if a whole lot of people would be better off if they did more of it. Everyone knows that it is best to think before they speak. Clearly not everyone knows it’s best to think before they post. I am shocked by what people will tweet or post to Facebook (is that still the name?) and other social media sites. I can’t believe they thought at all before posting some of what I see and if they did we are in worse shape then I would have ever believed. 

But doing too much of a good thing can turn it into a bad thing. So it is with thinking. 

Overthinking can be as bad as not thinking at all. Sometimes it’s even worse because overthinking can create problems that were not there in the first place. It can even create problems that are nothing more than a figment of the over-thinker’s imagination. 

The most surprising thing about overthinking is that it seems the smarter you are the more prone you are to fall into the overthinking trap. All that knowledge can cause you to over prepare and over analyze. 

It’s good to be thoughtful and use your experience when making a decision. Just be mindful as well of the danger of paralysis by analysis that too often comes with overthinking. 

Overthinking is the most common way smart people sabotage their own success. 

Partly because of what I do for a living a attend a lot of conference type meetings. That’s where I see smart people endlessly toiling away in front of a screen trying to create the perfect PowerPoint slides. Thinking and rethinking and thinking some more about exactly what they want to say. Changing one slide after another to get the exact “look” that will make their message connect with their audience. 

In 1000’s of meetings like that with a countless number of attendees I have never heard “wow, that was the most awesome PowerPoint I’ve ever seen, it totally made the presentation.” 

If you think your PowerPoint is the centerpiece of your presentation your thinking has missed the mark. PowerPoint should be a bit player behind your staring role. Whenever I see people fussing with their PowerPoint right up until the second they are presenting I know they are over thinking their presentation. WAY overthinking. 

Just an aside to all the presenters reading this. If you know what you’re talking about then use your slides to merely support your presentation. If you don’t know what you’re talking about then don’t be doing a presentation. 

Napoleon Hill wrote one of the all time greatest books titled “Think and Grow Rich.” He lived long ago but his principles still perfectly apply today. Obviously I never met him but I’ll bet if he would have written a sequel to that book it would have been titled “Over Think and Lose The Riches You Earned by Thinking. (Okay, I know his editor would have made him shorten the title but you get the point)

Do not limit your success by overthinking. Once your knowledge, your experience and your instincts tell you to act then act. Don’t let the same brain that informed you of what to do take that decision away from you by thinking and rethinking. Act!

Are you an “over-thinker?” Think about it…but not for too long.

The Process of Thinking

I’m a big fan of processes. I tell salespeople all the time that there are two ways to sell, by process or by accident. 

Doing things by process allows you to do things much more consistently. Having a process makes it easier to transfer skills from an experienced employee to a newer, less experienced one.

I believe in the power of planning and when people ask for my help with planning I share a well thought out eight step planning process. Things done by process are simply done better. 

Except when they are not. 

Some companies have processes that are so good they haven’t changed them in years. There is a story about a young accountant in the UK in the late 1990’s who was in his first annual budget review meeting. There was an item in the budget for “screens” and the amount was substantial. He asked what the screens were for and no one seemed to know. The line item had been there “forever” so each year they added a percent or two for the item and they moved on. 

Well the young accountant was more curious than the more experienced people on the team so he did a little investigating. He determined that the line item first appeared in the budget in the early 1940’s so in fact it wasn’t there forever. It turns out the “screens” were first purchased to place on top of the manufacturing plant’s smokestacks. Apparently there were planes from another country flying over England at night. They were using the fire at the bottom of the smokestacks as targets for the bombs that were dropped from the planes. 

The young accountant did some additional research. He discovered that it had been a good many years since that other country had sent bombers over England to destroy their manufacturing plants. And yet screens were still being replaced each year because it was part of the company’s process. 

And that’s when processes are not so good. 

When a process, no matter how effective it may have once been, is allowed to replace thinking a host of problems can ensue. 

Most leaders would tell me that their processes are well thought out. I’m sure that’s true but leaders shouldn’t be asking themselves if their processes are well thought out. The question every leader must ask, about every single one of their processes is, how old is the thinking that developed the process?

A process should never replace thinking. No team member or employee should ever be discouraged from questioning a process. Every process can be improved. Every process exists in a changing environment. To assume that any process never needs to change along with it’s environment is a very dangerous assumption. 

So think about every process that exists within your organization. Do you know how it came into existence? Do you know if it is still needed and why? Do you know when it was last updated? Do you know the last time anyone even thought about the process before mindlessly following along without even considering why they were doing it? 

If you can’t answer every single one of the questions with a high degree of specificity then you may have an opportunity for real improvement in your organization. Question every process and don’t stop until you have an answer. It’s likely those answers will bring improvement with them.

Never let a process, even a good one, keep you from thinking about how it could be improved. If you stop thinking you may one day find that even though the bombing has stopped you’re still hearing imaginary planes overhead. 

Creating Your Personal Reality

It’s very likely that you are far more powerful than you think. So powerful in fact that you have the ability to create your own reality.

How do I know that about you? Well because you’re human. Every human has the ability to create their own reality. Not only do they have the ability, they in fact DO create their own reality. Every person on earth creates their own reality out of their thoughts.

What you think you become. What others think of you matters very little when compared to what you think of yourself. Negative thoughts about yourself linger for a long long time. Self-doubt kills more dreams than all other obstacles combined. Yes, even more than lack of money. Actually, lack of money isn’t much of an obstacle at all, far more dreams are killed by lack of effort than lack of money.

You attract people to you who are often identical to the person you believe you are. If you think you’re a loser than you’ll invite losers into your life. Now the term loser isn’t very nice but I can’t think of a more apt description. Misery indeed loves company and if you think you can’t succeed you’ll attract people who think the same as you.

Since we are all basically a compilation of the five people we spend the most time with you want to make certain your five people build you up. If those 5 people tell you often enough that you can succeed you may start to wonder if they could possibly be right…and that can be the start of something magical.

Henry Ford said “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.”

You have to be so careful about what you think. Your thoughts become your words and your words become your actions and your actions become your reality.

You’re creating your reality this very day. Everything you think, say and do plays a part in the future you’re creating for yourself. If you master the discipline of controlling your thoughts there won’t be much else in life you can’t master.

My recommendation is to start EVERY day with five minutes of positive self-talk. Those might be the most vital 5 minutes of your day. Those five minutes will set the tone for the next 1435 minutes of your day.

Those five minutes could very well change your life. Now that’s reality!

Just Thinking

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately. Mostly about thinking. Very serendipitously I’ve seen several blog posts about thinking in the last few weeks too.

I think that thinking is good. I wish more people would try it. It really helps when making decisions and I particularly recommend taking a moment or two to think before you speak. It’s amazing what a difference that moment or two can make.

If you think as you look around (I don’t normally recommend multi-tasking but in this case I’ll make an exception) you’ll realize that pretty much everything you see began as a thought. Someone thought about making the device you’re reading this on. If someone printed it out for you to read that was very thoughtful of them. Everything begins with a thought.

So thinking is good. But is it always good? I think not!

Our thoughts lead the way for us. If our thoughts are positive our life tends to be positive. If our thoughts are negative our lives tend to be as well. Henry Ford once thought “whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” That was a great thought but it only became great when he said it out loud.

You see as good as your thoughts might be thinking alone is not enough to succeed. Thoughts can begin the process of success but action finishes it.

Mountains of failure are built on the foundation of good thoughts, or as some people might call them, good intentions. But those good thoughts all have one thing in common…a lack of commitment to take proper action to bring them to fruition.

Every person reading this has had great thoughts that they never followed up on. Those great thoughts could have become something special if only….

If only they had been acted upon.

So keep thinking but don’t just think. Take action. Massive, directed, intentional, unstoppable daily action. It may lead to nothing. It may lead to learning what to do differently next time. But it may lead to something incredible that makes a difference for you, for those close to you or maybe the world.

What do you think about that?

Think About This

If you were to talk with my dad these days he would likely tell you that the world “is going to hell in a hand basket.” Now I’m not certain I know what a hand basket is and I have no idea why the world would need one of those to go to hell but I understand what he’s trying to say. 

 

He’s trying to say that many of the changes happening today are not exactly positive changes. 

 

We seem to have lost the ability to communicate different opinions with anything nearing civil discourse. The “news” is not much more than two opposing viewpoints trying to sway people to their way of thinking. Long long gone are the days of truly impartial news people. 

 

The internet is becoming or perhaps has already become a place where hate goes to grow. I could go on and on…I certainly understand why anyone would think the world is worse off today than it was yesterday, or last week or last year.

 

Except that it isn’t!

 

Imagine if everyday before going to bed you had to express out loud everything and everyone you were grateful for. Upon waking the next day those things and people would be all you had…if you went even one day without expressing gratitude for something you wouldn’t have it the next day. If you went even one day taking a person for granted they would no longer be a part of your life. Just imagine that.

 

And then think. Think about how blessed you truly are. Think about how fortunate you are to live in this time. Think about how amazing the people are who help you make the life you have. 


And if you think this is all Pollyanna garbage then think also of how fortunate you are to be able to hold and express that opinion with no threat of penalties at all.


Just think about it!

What Were You Thinking?

Most people just don’t think about what they are thinking. They think something and then react to that thought with no additional thinking. 

 

That’s where stereotypes come from. That’s where misconceptions come from. That’s where poor judgment comes from. It’s also where failure comes from. 

 

Most successful people are not all that surprised by their success. They thought they could succeed and they set about doing it. Most people who could be described as less successful are not all that surprised by their lack of success either. There was, at least in the back of their mind, a thought that no matter what they did they really couldn’t succeed. 

 

Their actions followed those thoughts. 

 

I’ve always heard that it’s very important to “make a good first impression.” People say “you only get one chance to make a good first impression.” I understand that but as I grow older I think the advice I’d give people is “don’t permanently judge people based on your first impression.”

 

What you think someone is, based on your first impression, is likely what they will be, at least to you. So be careful, very careful what you think of someone right off the bat. Wait, give them a couple of opportunities to make an impression before you start thinking about who or what you think they are. That first thought will stay with you a long time so don’t start thinking until you have enough exposure to the person to form an intelligent thought.

 

Thinking about someone without actually thinking can cost you the opportunity to have a diverse group of people in your life who you could actually form close relationships with. Just don’t be so quick to form an opinion of them.

 

But you really limit yourself when you think less of yourself than you should. Henry Ford once said “whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.” 

 

What you think you are you likely become. If you believe in yourself and think that you will succeed then you’re virtually unstoppable. If you don’t believe in yourself you’re virtually unstartable. (I think I just made another new word) 

 

Your thoughts become your words and your words become your actions. You should always be aware of what you’re thinking and stop yourself from thinking poorly about yourself. 

 

You certainly cannot simply think your way into success but you can absolutely think your way into failure. 

 

Think about what you’re thinking. The surest way to have a positive, successful attitude is to have positive successful thoughts. Every thought you think is creating your future so think of the future you really want and then go make it happen.


Think about that! 

Are You a Lazy Thinker?

Only 55% of all Americans know that the sun is a star. I don’t know what they think it is, a planet maybe or maybe they just never thought about it. Maybe they just aren’t the curious type or maybe they just don’t think much at all. 

 

Or maybe they are just lazy thinkers.

 

Lazy thinkers assume a bunch of stuff. Many of the things they do they do because they have always done them. They don’t stop to think about what they do and why they do it. 

 

They would almost certainly be more successful, in every area of their life if they just challenged their thinking once in a while but that’s pretty hard to do without some help. 

 

Who helps you challenge your thinking? Who causes you to justify your decisions. Who squeezes the rationale out of you? Who is your “devil’s advocate?”

 

It is good, no, it is very good to have someone in your life that challenges your thinking. 

 

You should not be upset when your thinking is challenged, in fact, you should be grateful. When your thinking is challenged it keeps you from becoming a lazy thinker.

 

Some people, like me for instance, don’t challenge their thinking because they are always right. Except of course when they aren’t. Mark Twain said “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”

 

Every decision I make is better when I make it while realizing that my thought process may be challenged by someone. When I have real reasons for making a decision with facts and logic to support those reasons I know that the decision will stand up to any challenge.

 

That’s almost certainly the case for you too.

 

If you need help challenging your thinking then ask for help. Find a mentor or a coach. Bounce your thinking off of someone you respect, let them provide you with an alternative view and perhaps some additional facts. 

 

Doing something because it’s always been done that way is the absolute worst reason for doing anything. It’s a terrible trap to fall into and it’s a trap that lazy thinkers live in all too often.


Be an energetic thinker, know how you came to the conclusions you came to. Know why, exactly why, you’re doing what you’re doing. Be prepared to defend everything you do, everything you say and most importantly, everything you think.