Change Your Thoughts and You Will Change Your World – Norman Vincent Peale
This month we are focusing on another daily practice, ‘Developing Good Thinking’ as we continue our book review on Today Matters by John Maxwell. He challenges his readers to consider the value they put on good thinking. He suggests that to increase your value in your organization you need to focus on good thinking.
He highlights that in the business world, capital and experience are not as important as great ideas. Ideas are what allow us to move beyond our limits in business and life. Ideas are what great businesses are built on.
Action Item: What can you do in your organization or department to encourage/foster the creation and sharing of ideas?
John Maxwell describes poor thinkers as people who are slaves to their surroundings and have a hard time solving problems. They continue to face the same problems over and over again. Since they don’t think ahead they are habitually in reactionary mode.
For Reflection: Do you consider yourself to be a good thinker or a poor thinker? Do you find yourself at the mercy of good thinkers? Are you often being reactive rather than proactive?
Further in the book John Maxwell describes eleven types of thinking. As you read this list, think about one or two areas of thinking that you are good at right now.
Which of the following areas of thinking would you like to excel in?
- Big Picture Thinking – Ability to think beyond yourself and your world to process ideas with a holistic perspective
- Focused Thinking – Ability to think with clarity on issues by removing distractions and mental clutter from your mind
- Creative Thinking – Ability to break out of your box of limitations and explore ideas and options to experience a breakthrough
- Realistic Thinking – Ability to build a solid foundation on facts and to think with certainty
- Strategic Thinking – Ability to implement plans that give direction for today and increase your potential for tomorrow
- Possibility Thinking – Ability to unleash your enthusiasm and hope to find solutions for seemingly impossible situations
- Reflective Thinking – Ability to revisit the past in order to gain a true perspective and think with understanding
- Questioning popular thinking – Ability to reject the limitations of common thinking and accomplish uncommon results
- Shared thinking – Ability to include the heads of others to be able to think over your head and achieve compounding results
- Unselfish thinking – Ability to consider others and their journey to think with collaboration
- Bottom line thinking – Ability to focus on results and maximum return to reap the full potential of your thinking
Now that you know the different types of thinking, what areas of strengths in thinking did you narrow down for yourself? John Maxwell suggests that instead of mastering all the above-mentioned types of thinking; focus on the areas where you are already good.
Going from good to excellent will take a moderate amount of time and effort. As you continue to improve your thinking, you will progress from excellent to a world-class thinker. Then you will become truly invaluable to your organization and those around you, and be able to make major contributions wherever you are.
The author cautions against spending energy mastering areas of weakness in your thinking. He explains the amount of time and effort it would take to progress from an area of weakness to average and then good, would be better spent in becoming excellent in an area where you already have a jump-start.
To manage areas of weakness in your thinking, surround yourself with people who are strong in other areas. Whether it is at your workplace or home, create an atmosphere where you can appreciate and rely on your coworkers different styles of thinking to manage your areas of weakness.
John Maxwell says it is easy to allow situations and other people to influence our thinking. When seeking ideas from other people, be aware that sometimes they may have an agenda, other than helping you. So, always take responsibility for your own thinking.
For Reflection: Take some time to think about people you surround yourself with. What areas of thinking are they strong in? Think about how you can create a positive atmosphere at your workplace to rely on each other for better thinking and decision-making.
Now that you know about the different types of thinking, how do you start improving your own thinking. John Maxwell shares these recommendations:
- Set time aside every day to think on the right things
- Find your thinking place – When it comes to deciding on your thinking place, everyone is different. Whether its nature, a solitary place, or a place with a little distraction. Find what works for you. E.g. Thinking doesn’t always have to be in a quiet place, sometimes you might find that you think better with a little bit of distraction.
- Discover what time works best for you during the day – When during the day is your thinking the sharpest? Set aside a block of time every day just to think.
- Capture your thoughts – Whether its during the day, when you wake up or right before you go to bed, carry something that you can jot down your thoughts on. Decide on a system that works for you and use it.
Here are a few things you can do every day to improve your thinking at a faster pace:
- Focus on the positive things – Negative thinking and worry actually hinder the thinking process. When you are focusing on thinking, make a conscious decision to focus on positive things.
- Gather good input – Become a collector of ideas. The more good ideas you are exposed to, the more your thinking will improve.
- Spend time with good thinkers – John Maxwell says that most top executives in an organization were mentored at some point in their life. When you spend time with good thinkers one of the biggest benefits you will receive is to learn how they think. If you spend time with good thinkers you will find the exposure will sharpen your thinking.
Once you have developed this daily practice you can focus on increasing the quantity and quality of your thinking. Few things give as great a return as good ideas. When your thinking is good a lot of other things in life will take care of themselves.