01 Oct Don’t Let Your Thinking Limit Your Potential
Hi, Soo here. Thanks for checking out this article. Once you’ve read it, my hope is you’ll understand: how outdated thinking patterns can impede your effectiveness; the importance of thinking about your thinking; and how to make sure you don’t let your thinking limit your potential.
If you were driving a car from the 70’s still with its original motor, you might think it a classic, but it’s unlikely you’d expect it to be a high-performance vehicle.
The computer or device on which you’re reading this article is similar. The older it is, the slower it functions and the less options it has, the more frustrating it is to use.
It may come as a surprise that the same can be said for us human beings.
Have your Upgraded Your Operating System Lately?
Did you know that our personality and habits of thinking get laid down before we turn seven?
That means that no matter what age you are now – twenty, thirty or fifty, if you’re still running original thinking patterns, you’re putting a less mature, competent, skillful and wise version of yourself in the driver’s seat.
That’s one very effective way to limit your potential.
We service our cars, replacing old parts that no longer work. We keep our phones updated with the latest operating systems, so they function optimally. But what about our thinking?
Here’s a Thought – Quality Check Your Thinking
If you want to utilise all the experience, wisdom and breadth of perspective available to you, then you need to stop, and think about your thinking. It’s important to run regular quality checks on your habits of thinking and perceiving. How do you do that?
One way is to make yourself familiar with some common ‘Thinking Errors’. Thinking errors are simply habits of perceiving, and some of the more common ones are:
- All or Nothing Thinking. This is black and white thinking, where only the extremes of any situation are recognised and the grey area in between is overlooked. For example, “You’re either with me or against me.” To counterbalance, ask yourself, what’s possible in-between these two extremes?
- Mind-Reading: Assuming you know what someone else thinks without having asked them. When you ass-u-me, you make an ass out of u and me.
- Catastrophising: As the word implies, these are thoughts make things seem much worse than they actually are. For example, you don’t make it to the gym one day, and make it mean you’ll never reach your fitness goals and will probably die young. To counterbalance catastophising ask yourself what to come up with a few other possibilities or interpretations.
- Personalising: Here you assume you are the centre of the universe, and when something happens, like your friend doesn’t call back, you make it mean something about you – like they’re mad at you. If you catch yourself doing this, ask yourself “What other possibilities are there?”
- Filtering for either the positive or negative: This is looking at life through a filter where everything is seen in a particular light. An optimist’s positive outlook may incorrectly filter out potential danger to them, while a pessimist might filter out potential opportunities, limiting their life experience. Taking in a broader range of perspectives creates a more balanced outlook and experience of life.
Click here for a more complete list of thinking errors.
As Fritz Purls said, “Awareness is curative.” Getting familiar with these common thinking pitfalls can help you to spot them, which makes it possible for you to choose how you respond rather than just react.
Other Ways to Get Objective
Another good place to look for habitual thinking patterns is wherever you experience struggle or challenge. Why? That’s where your current way of thinking is being pushed to its limits. The old way of seeing, thinking and reacting isn’t working for you anymore. As the saying goes:
“You can’t solve a problem with the same thinking that created it.”
– Attributed to Albert Einstein
Keeping a journal to identify current challenges, and (importantly) reading back over your notes, is another way to get objective to patterns of thinking and behaving.
This approach is helpful, but also limited. That’s because the YOU doing the reading is the same YOU who values those habits thinking and behaving in the first place, so there is an existing bias.
It’s like asking your eye to look at your eye. It can’t. The only possibly way for your eye to see your eye is to look at a reflection of itself. And now we’re getting somewhere…
Find Yourself a Mirror.
By far the most effective way to get an objective view of your habitual thinking and patterns of behaviour, is to work with someone who can see further and deeper than you can; someone who is free from any agenda other than the one you bring to the conversation; and someone who can feedback on areas you may be unable to see or perceive.
A good Developmental Coach will facilitate this, providing an expanded, objective awareness of your current ways of thinking, allowing you to change limiting behaviours and experience a fuller life.
If you’re ready to upgrade your thinking patterns and start living your life with less stress, more engagement and more opportunity, please contact me now.
Soo works primarily with executives, and specialises in working with women. Clients engage her to enable them to see their developmental blindspots and unleash their full potential; in their professional and personal life.
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