“Thinking is the hardest work we do.” This famous quote has been attributed to Henry Ford. It appears in offices and schools on motivational posters and coffee mugs.
But what’s missing from this energizing message is the next line, and it’s oh-so important. So let me give you the whole thing here:
Ouch! That hurts so much because it’s so true for me. Each day, I react to the next urgent issue, answer emails as quickly as possible, spend too much time on the phone, finish too may tasks and projects minutes before they’re due, and somehow ‘work’ between 10 and 12 hours too often feeling like I didn’t get anything strategically important accomplished. Just busy, busy, busy from before dawn until after dark most days.
How about you? Do you jump endlessly from one issue to the next, convincing yourself that somehow multi-tasking (multi-thinking??) is more efficient and energizing? Perhaps leading to more innovative ‘a-ha’ moments than focused disciplined thinking could possibly provide?
Well, if so, then we’re both headed in the wrong direction.
To be honest, thinking isn’t really that hard. What appears to be hard is the discipline to push aside distractions, block the time, find a quiet place, and – quite simply – think.
Copying the Behaviors of Successful People
As a core part of my own professional and personal development, I’ve become a big believer in finding someone who does something really well that I’m interested in doing, and just copying what they do. For me, it’s worked for becoming a better speaker, consultant, auditor and coach. And it can work for you, too.
That’s how I ran across John C. Maxwell. In his book How Successful People Think, Maxwell suggests that successful people “fight the hectic pace of life that discourages intentional thinking.”
O.K., that makes sense, but the big divide is the difference between knowing it and doing it.
In a similar vein, several of my coaches and advisors have said that we all need to ‘block the time’ to think or to focus exclusively on an important project or task. ‘Blocking the time’ means literally putting it on your calendar, accepting no interruptions, turning off your phone or laptop, closing the door, sitting comfortably – and thinking!
Your Action Challenge
Whenever and wherever you are reading this, stop right now. That’s correct – RIGHT NOW. Take five minutes with no other distractions in order to fully appreciate the gift of quiet time to think.
You may need to go find a place to hide. Your cubicle at work may be too noisy. Your desk at home may be too cluttered. The coffee shop where you go each morning to escape and relax may have the music turned all the way up. If so – think: where can I go RIGHT NOW to enjoy five minutes of uninterrupted, undistracted time to think.
For Better! results in your business or personal life, make the positive choice to Stop What You’re Doing. Then repeat this gift every day. Allowing yourself a few minutes each day to do nothing but think is a great gift. It’s free and it’s just for you. So try it and enjoy.
Let me know how it goes.
John J. Hall, CPA, is an author, speaker and results expert who presents around the world at conventions, corporate meetings and association events. Throughout his 38-year career as a business consultant, corporate executive and professional speaker, John has helped organizations and individuals achieve measurable results. He inspires audience members in corporations, not-for-profit organizations and professional associations to step up, take action and “do what you can.”