Leading Thoughts

IDEAS shared have the power to expand perspectives, change thinking, and move lives. Here are two ideas for the curious mind to engage with:

I.

Scientist Edward O. Wilson on the unification of knowledge:

“The ongoing fragmentation of knowledge and resulting chaos in philosophy are not reflections of the real world but artifacts of scholarship.”

Source: Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge

II.

The late professor and writer David Foster Wallace on focus:

“Twenty years after my own graduation, I have come gradually to understand that the liberal arts cliché about “teaching you how to think” is actually shorthand for a much deeper, more serious idea: Learning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think. It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience. Because if you cannot exercise this kind of choice in adult life, you will be totally hosed.”

Source: This is Water

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Leading Thoughts

IDEAS shared have the power to expand perspectives, change thinking, and move lives. Here are two ideas for the curious mind to engage with:

I.

Performance psychologist Jim Loehr on motivated reasoning:

“The facts are facts, but we ignore, alter, or otherwise twist them to allow us to continue doing what we are doing. Once we learn we can get what we want by altering the logic chain, by embracing ‘facts’ that align with the outcome we want and dismissing those facts that don’t, no behavior is safe. No value, no belief is safe.”

Source: Leading with Character: 10 Minutes A Day to A Brilliant Legacy

II.

David C. Valliere on the need for entrepreneurs to think and to think differently:

“Thinking is hard work. If you tell people they are thinking, they will love you. But if you actually make them think, they will hate you. Thinking carefully and precisely is very hard work – perhaps even harder than the physical labor of digging ditches, or the emotional labor of smiling at retail customers. Chess grandmasters can burn thousands of calories as they sit there, motionless, or occasionally lifting one hand to move a small piece weighting only a few grams. Because with their minds, they are expending huge amounts of energy. Most people will go to great lengths to avoid working so hard. They look for shortcuts and simplifications. They rely on ‘common wisdom’ and shared ‘rules of thumb’ without doing the hard work of checking things out for themselves. And these are the shortcuts that sink new entrepreneurs.”

Source: Entrepreneurial Thinking: Think Different!

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Look for these ideas every Thursday on the Leading Blog. Find more ideas on the LeadingThoughts index.

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The Fear of Looking Stupid

Fear of Looking Stupid

NO ONE likes to look stupid. And it keeps us from trying new things or exploring those crazy ideas and dreams that we have been carrying around. The trick, of course, is getting to the place where you don’t care what other people think of you. And that’s easier said than done.

It’s not as simple as telling yourself to just do it. Comedian, entrepreneur, and author of The Art of Making Sh!t Up, Norm Laviolette says the way to get to that place is to slowly step into it as you would train for a marathon. You wouldn’t just run a marathon. You would start with short runs and gradually build up.

Maybe you don’t immediately hit the open mic stage, but rather you sign up for an improv class. That’s all, just sign up. You don’t even have to commit in your mind to go, just execute the simplest first step, which is signing up. You don’t even need to tell anyone! Then once you do that, force yourself to go to the first class. No commitments after that.
What you will find is that you now have put yourself in a situation where “looking stupid” isn’t perceived as stupid at all, and what you are doing is actually the new normal. Sure, you are taking a risk by being in an improv class. But ultimately it is a very mitigated risk, because the entire environment is set up in such a way that everyone is facing that risk together.
Since everybody is facing the prospect of potentially looking stupid, ultimately no one does. As this new normal starts to feel more and more comfortable, you start to rewire your brain and how it perceives what is considered “stupid looking.”

You can apply this to anything. And it is infinitely easier when we realize that other people are not thinking about us as much as we think they are. What are they thinking about? Themselves. Feel liberated yet? We are the ones that give people permission to hold us back from being creative and trying new things.

And then there are those who cast doubt when we tell them what we are up to. Laviolette says you need to take control of the conversation.

I have found that making a strong declarative statement along the lines of “So, I’m doing X now,” tends to stop other people from offering overly negative judgments about what it is I’m doing. It is easy for people to point out why you shouldn’t begin something, but it is much more difficult for people to tell you why you should stop doing something, especially if you follow up with the reason why you like doing it. Even the biggest blowhard tends to not want to crush someone else’s good vibes.
The declarative statement takes the power of judgment away from the responder. Once you state what it is you are doing, most people tend to shrug their shoulders and think to themselves, “I guess she is doing that now.” They may approve or disapprove, but ultimately if they see that you are already committed, they tend to move on to other subjects.

The fear of looking stupid is all in our heads. When we step out, we grow.

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Success Mindsets

RYAN GOTTFREDSON begins his book Success Mindsets, with the question, “Is your thinking the best way to think?” It is an extremely important question to ask and one that rarely gets asked. It’s easy to overlook this question because if I thought something was wrong in the way I thought, I would change it—maybe. After all, we’re pretty comfortable with our own thoughts. We all think we are right.

While you may be reluctant to see to admit it, the thing that stands between where you currently are and the greater success in your life, work, and leadership is yourself—in particular, your thinking that your thinking is the best way to think. But the reality is that if you want to go from your current state to a more successful state, you must think about and see the world in new, different, and better ways.

How we show up in the world, how we experience the world, and how we respond to it is a reflection of our thinking. When we think differently, we behave differently. Behind our behaviors is our mindset. It comes down to our mindset. Our mindset is the filter through which we view our environment and, subsequently, what is going on inside of us—our thinking and emotions.

Mindset PyramidAs the pyramid at the right suggests, “if our current thinking, learning, and behaviors are not generating the success we want, we need to shift our focus from ‘fixing’ or changing our thinking, learning, and behaviors to the level below: our mindsets.” We have to get behind what drives everything we think and do.

So, if mindsets are so powerful, Gottfredson asks, “What mindsets do I need to have to be more successful?” He relates an example of dissatisfaction in his own life and concludes with an understanding that his mindset was largely negative. He began to realize that his general “funk and perceived lack of success was not because of the organizations that I worked for and the people within. Rather, I had negative mindsets that were driving me to operate in ways that limited myself.”

Gottfredson provides a framework for us to begin thinking about our own mindsets. By bringing together research on mindsets from various sources, he has assembled four sets of mindsets that we need to be aware of and evaluate our place along the continuum of each. They are fixed/growth mindsets, open/closed mindsets, prevention/promotion mindsets, and inward/outward mindsets. (Each are describe in more detail here.)

4 Mindsets

Success Mindsets covers each of these in detail and explores ways to improve in each area. In addition, he has developed an assessment to help you better understand each of these mindsets, find out where you stand on each, and ways to improve.

An unhealthy mindset is at the core of most of our issues. If we are “blind to our mindsets, we will misdiagnose our problems, treat them only at the surface level, and continue to be frustrated.”

Think of some of the most common organizational problems:
• Poor leadership and management
• Inability to effectively initiate and navigate change
• Lack of inclusion
• Low employee morale and effectiveness
At the root of each of these issues lies negative mindsets.

For most of us—of the thousands of people that have taken Gottfredson’s assessment, that’s about 95%—we tend to function on the negative side of at least some of the four sets of mindsets. But we can improve—change our mindset—with some conscious effort.

We come by our mindsets for the most part unconsciously. From our experiences, our mind automatically forms conclusions about the world and how we should react to it. Those conclusions are not often logical or as informed as they should be. Over time we develop a mindset—a way of looking at the world—that is based on those assumptions repeated over time. Depending on our environment those habitual ways of thinking become our mindsets that either do or don’t serve us well. It is in our best interest to look at our mindsets and ask if they reflect the kind of person we wish to be going forward. Success Mindsets helps us to do just that.

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