Allow yourself to think
Allow yourself to think
Over 75% of people who seek our help check the pre-mentoring item “I need to think better”. Bearing in mind that the majority are in the 35-60 age group, are in senior, responsible jobs and live sensible if rather hectic lives, this is an astonishing figure.
When we discuss with them what they mean, it boils down to three things:  faster lineal (logical) thinking  more creative thinking  better memory. Master these three assets and you are there. But only as long as you practice. The theory of better thinking is simple; the practice, something else. Why is that?
Because our brains panic. The education and upbringing we were given demanded quick, correct answers. It was about acquiring and retaining information. Today the information we need is very different from what the over-35-year-old was expected to acquire. In the past it has been largely facts that we could regurgitate in order to support or deny a thesis – adversarial combat. Like the movie clip ‘Gunfight at the O.K.Corral’, the fastest and most accurate won. There’s still plenty of that, of course.
But now we need to know where to get it (Google, Wiki et al), how to appraise it (is it right and relevant?) and how and when to communicate it (presentation). Surely we will only do that if we know what it is we are looking for in the first place? That used to be the case but no longer. Most of today’s fastest growing businesses were inconceivable before the computer and digitisation. Now we have 1,800 new apps an hour (I am told), many of them on subjects we didn’t even have the words to describe five years ago.
Fear of failure is the single biggest cause of poor thinking. This fear was bred by an environment when smart meant demonstrably well read. Being well read is highly desirable; showing off about it is not. Having to prove ourselves all the time is a function of the selfish survival streak we all have. Vital for self-preservation it becomes an albatross if we can’t set it aside and release the absurd, humorous side of our natures.
The title of one of our most successful programmes is “Sum it up; spit it out; make it stick”. At first glance that looks like communications; glance again – it is clearly about thinking. To achieve it we must think fast but not be driven to turn our thoughts into solutions too fast. Scatter thinking is creative, a vital part of all thinking. Solving problems then requires the next step – as with gardening, weeding determines what you have to show in the end.
Allowing yourself to think requires that you stop thinking exclusively about you, how you appear and what you want, and start thinking about the other person, who they are, what sort of a mood they are in, how receptive they may be and what they really want.
You may be astonished to hear that what they mostly want is to please you.