Those who can find time to think, with clarity and focus usually generate ideas that transform lives, businesses or communities.
Thinking Leads To Sharper Vision, Deeper Insight & Increased Might.
I spent time chatting with an astute Leader this weekend. Dr. Tony Rapu, Founder of Freedom Foundation & Senior Pastor of This Present House, is a man I refer to as a General. Always very clear in his thoughts and articulate in expressing them, I found he spends extended periods alone. We can’t all accomplish the same sort of alone times, but all leaders can benefit from what he referred to as the valuable outcomes of thinking time invested wisely- “Sharper Vision, Deeper Insight & Increased might” are the hall marks of leaders who take time out, Dr. Rapu shared with me.
I totally agree with him. I have found that times spent thinking, make leaders ‘more strategic rather than just tactical’.
Good Quality Thinking Prevents Frenzied Reaction.
Sadly, most leaders (especially in our continent) struggle to find time alone, hence the lack of creativity and originality in ideas, never mind execution. I recall my short stint at the Senate, as a Special Adviser on Legal & Constitutional Matters to the President of the Senate for about 18 months. One of the things that bothered me was the amount of frenzied activity that seemed to take place at all levels of government. Multiple meetings at odd hours, constant movement, I scheduled travelling, fast paced activities from the crack of dawn until midnight and most times throughout the night. It just seemed to me, that there were more activities than there was time to think and plan. I recall wondering, surely the quality of any government, institution, business or individual output is directly related to their ability to stop, reflect and strategically contemplate. It seemed all too much like the maddening crowd to me. (And I may be wrong.)
However, in my business, and personal life, I have learnt to deliberately stop, pause and reflect. Do nothing but think. Review high level matters. Reflect on the journey. Take a step out of the frenzy. Step onto a different platform and take a 360 degree view of what is going on. This has helped me personally to become sharper and more agile.
Leaders Must Schedule Thinking Time.
Leaders can make better decisions focused more on their core values, rather than out of necessity or desperation. Decisions end up more profitable in the short and long run, because you are operating from a place of ‘quiet contemplative confidence’ rather than ‘knee jerked response’ born out of fear, desperation and misinformation. I’ve been saved so many times from making major mistakes, just because I was able to step back, and think through the options. Where there are so many distractions, especially if the systems aren’t so developed, with a lot of the critical decisions ending up on the desk of the leaders, it’s even more important to steal thinking time. (Ultimately building systems-based institutions whether in the public or private sectors remains critical).
Thinking is an art, and a required discipline for all leaders. Let’s be deliberate about making time for it.
Switch Off To Become Switched On:
Everyone must learn the art of thinking.
Always find time during the weekend to rid your mind of the usual clutter that bogs most people down and feeds us with the sort of mediocre ideas peddled by the average majority. It takes deliberate effort to think independent, clear and articulate thoughts.
From TVs at hair salons, barber shops, Facebook, twitter, BBMs, mobile devices switched on 24/7, we are constantly barraged by the noise that forms the background for the majority and that leads to average thoughts and ideas. We need to switch off to be switched on to our thoughts.
Learning to be quiet, to retreat into your own silence, to be still, and connect with your own voice, your own thoughts, your unique ideas – this is the stuff genius is made of. Do you recall ever walking, hiking, maybe alone, or having taken time out to stay home when everyone else went out, with the TV and devices off- when an idea dropped into your mind. Solutions for tough challenges suddenly come in those quiet moments. Insight to pending issues. Light bulb moments. What Oprah calls- the Aha! Moment. I’ve had plenty of those, but mostly when I deliberately shut down the noise of a world that threatens to stifle my own thoughts.
Suggestions For Creating Thinking Time:
- Try having lunch at work alone, without your mobile devices. Be intentionally silent and thoughtful while having your meal. (If you have your own office, stay indoors and shut your door. Hand your phones to your Executive assistant)-this is my favourite option. Sometimes I stretch it for an hour and half. (Trust me the world won’t stop).
- Try driving yourself on some weekends, if you are not going to a stressful location with parking issues. Keep out the radio or other noise or even music. Be still and let your thoughts find you.
- Anytime you go to the bathroom (especially for working parents with young kids), take extra time in there, and just take deep breathes. Relax, find your thoughts. Stretch your mind beyond your immediate stresses and cares.
- Walking especially around oceans, the sea, scenic areas…quiet walks without people, or even if you are with people, ask them to observe a quiet walk, or run with you…(one of my personal favourites- some of my breakthrough insights came through these runs).
- Holidays are a great time to think. Don’t pack your days with too many activities. Instead of roaming around the shops, with all the distracting bright lights, and prices calling out at you, find a coffee shop, take a book and read. Let your thoughts find you while reading. Reading is one way to open up your thoughts and creativity.
In the current frenzied world, it’s important to catch your breathe and your thoughts. You can tell the quality of your future by the quality of time you currently find to think today!
To your success. Become truly Unstoppable.
P.S. I feel fortunate to be able to retreat frequently…with only the sounds of birds, bunny rabbits and deers and nature as my companion . I count it a privilege and do my best thinking at this time. I like to believe it reflects in my work.
DESIRE + BELIEF = POSSIBILITIES!
The secret to achieving anything of significance in life, business or at work starts with having an intense DESIRE followed by a passionate BELIEF that anything is possible concerning the matter. Today, take massive action with a mindset that says I BELIEVE, therefore I ACHIEVE.
May these words from my ‘Ignited Journal’ inspire you to do so. Keep shining.
EXPECT THE MIRACULOUS!
Expect the miraculous today.
If you slept and woke up, that’s a miracle.
If you can see the beautiful sun or clouds, that too is a miracle.
If you can smell the fresh morning dews, that is a mighty miracle.
As you arise today, embrace the fullness of today’s possibilities.
Open your Spirit, Mind and Soul
Anything can quite literally happen today!
Everything is Possible
If you Believe.
Now Step into today’s possibilities.
Today is your day!
Expect the Miraculous.
It’s Magical Monday!