I had two different laser coaching conversations this week about “thinking too much.”
John, not his real name, said he constantly thinks about future possibilities and how projects could unfold. He thinks this is a weakness. My response was to evaluate the value add of this thinking.
- Does it lead to analysis paralysis? If so, there is no value add.
- Are the risks and opportunities captured in a risk register? Are these then rated based on probability and impact? Are risk responses evaluated with a recommended approach? If so, there is value add.
- Can you stop thinking about the same possibilities over and over again after some decisions have been made? There is no value add in thinking around in circles unless there is new information to consider.
If you catch yourself in a cycle of non-valued added thinking.
- Write down your thoughts
- Structure them in a risk register or RAID log
- Make some recommended decisions
- Stop thinking, reward yourself, do something else.
In the second conversation, Jane (not her real name) said she was given some negative feedback and just can’t stop thinking about it. What’s the value add in this situation?
There is no value add in having your mind occupied by the forces of negative thoughts. There is value add in changed behaviour. In this case:
- Write down your thoughts about the feedback. Which aspects do you agree and disagree with?
- Own the parts where you made mistake(s) and forgive yourself. (Inability to forgive yourself is another big topic)
- Come up with a plan for better ways of acting in future should the same situation occur.
- Start acting on that plan with one small changed behaviour. Reward yourself for it.
In both situations, the value add in thinking lies in the resulting decisions and actions. If thinking only results in going over the same data, thinking is taking over your mind. Mind your thoughts, mine your thoughts, transform raw thoughts into decisions and actions.