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Leadership Thought #313 – You Need To Manage Your Thoughts

March 7, 2012

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Whenever I encounter someone who is failing or struggling, they inevitably have convinced themselves that this is their lot in life.  They spend a considerable amount of time thinking about worst-case scenarios and everything that is going wrong. Sometimes they even start to believe they deserve their misfortune and/or easily fall into the role of victim.  Increased energy is taken up by negative thoughts and this only deepens their woes and solidifies self-doubt.  When this mindset takes hold for any prolonged period, they begin to sabotage their own success and happiness.  It is a vicious cycle.  People do not have black clouds over their heads, they just become consumed by dark thoughts.  My own observation of others is that their depression doesn’t happen all at once, but instead it happens gradually over time…

While I do not subscribe to the theory that we can fully control our thoughts, I do believe we can manage them better.  What is required is that we get better at separating what we are thinking about from our actual reality.  Often this requires those around us to help us think and act differently.  We need to ask for this help.  It helps to balance the objectivity of others against our own subjectivity.  We also need to train ourselves to acknowledge and redirect these thoughts when they happen.  There is also something to be said for appreciating the context of whatever is taking place and sharpening our perspective on why it may or may not be happening.  Lastly, the probability of worst-case scenarios is often exceedingly small, and it is much better to focus on the positive actions you can take right now rather than worrying what you will do if the absolute worst happens.  If you approach life from an observational and learning mode, it becomes easier to take positive proactive action.  It also starts to make more sense.

Everyone has difficulties in their life.  No one is immune from misfortune.  Adversity can and should build character.  We are capable of so much more than we think, but this doesn’t mean it will be easy to get there.   The good news is that you do get to manage how you think about something after quieting the initial noise in your head.   I have always liked the famous quote by Henry Ford, “Whether you think you can or that you can’t, you’re usually right.”  Believe in yourself and your mental, emotional, and physical resiliency.

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