Truly independent thought is an art and certainly much more than a skill.
At first blush, some might balk at the notion that they may not be independent thinkers. Unconscious, automatic, straight-through thinking, underpinned with data, facts, analysis, opinion, information, ideas, history, benchmarks, research and input is where much of our decision-making lies. This is how we are trained. A newly minted manager is cautioned to take a rigorous approach to work. It certainly has its place, but where is the space to think? Does our intuition and sense of things matter?
Early in my career, I was unaware that the seemingly random thoughts and ideas swirling around in my head might be valuable. I tried to dismiss this chatter as a distraction and an interruption to what truly needed to be considered. It was a personal, subtle and lengthy process to discover that my ruminations are more than valuable, they are indispensable. Executive leaders are well advised to consistently hone this important art.
Experience, wisdom and understanding of people, not just processes, is the hallmark of a strong leader. Knowing when and how to tap into these important resources is critical.
Recognize that your intuitive process is valuable. It is essential to model this for other leaders. We must know ourselves first, to effectively lead others.
Important decisions require time and reflection. In tense and time sensitive settings, take a deep breath and reflect, before acting or deciding. Even a moment’s reflection will make the difference.
Contemporaneously record thoughts, ideas and solutions that deeply, fleetingly, or persistently emerge. A notepad bedside (paper or electronic) is a must.
Some of your thoughts are just for you. Ideas emerge and are quickly forgotten in the rush of everyday living. Are you sometimes unable to retrieve that seemingly great idea? Take it as a sign of a “thought just for you.” Our thoughts and feelings are to be savored as a reminder of our resilience, purpose, and ability.
Recommit to independent conscious thinking, based upon experience, wisdom, and understanding.
The best place to start, is with you.
Change & Innovation: Thinking for Yourself ©Change Create Transform 2015