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What Factors Trigger Your Thinking?

Does everything that is on my mind exist? When are the thoughts we think real, and when are they nothing more than thoughts? How do we choose which thoughts to act on and which ones to let be? What is the process for bringing thinking to life… and how can these questions impact my corporate culture?

Understanding the distinction between what’s real, and what’s a thought, has become an important skill. Technology has accelerated our access to what’s happening beyond us and its impact has been connected to the growing rate of subclinical mental conditions like; second guessing, doubt, comparison, anxiety and many more. These conditions are prevalent in our work spaces as over 87% of people in the US, Canada, South America and Europe suffer from at least one subclinical condition in a way that impacts their work.

Instagram feeds have become windows into the ways others think and it doesn’t take much time for us to hear our own thoughts or judgements to what people have posted. We can see how people edit their posts in effort to create a desired perception, and we may also hear ourselves comparing our own life to theirs. Scrolling instagram is no different to sitting in a meeting, to working on a presentation or interacting with anyone.

Paying attention to the ways we scroll through instagram will help us to understand how we scroll through our own thoughts.

First, we must understand that how we do one thing is how we do all things. Someone who is risk adverse is not only risk adverse at work, they are risk adverse as they walk through life. The ways we process thought are applied to everything we interact with. Listening to people speak at work uses similar thought process to when we scroll through instagram.

When we are able to hear ourselves thinking – we are able to hear the judgements we place on people, we hear our commentary, we may hear jealously we have that we didn’t think of “that”, we may hear our desires and we may hear our true beliefs. What we hear is unique to each of us and when we are able to hear how we think we are able to train ourselves to think from different perspectives.

I should stop here and admit that at times I don’t want to say what is really going through my mind. I have been in situations where I am listening to someone speak and I can’t hear anything they are saying because of another thought – this other thought could be prejudgement, it could be something that is left unresolved between me and the speaker, it could be a distraction or it could be a variety of other things.

Training ourselves to hear our thoughts will allow us to be mindful of the ways we are thinking. The more mindful we are, the more we are able to realize that we choose how to think… and¬†being able to choose how you think… is a critical skill that will only become more important as technology gets smarter around us.

The ways we think could be referred to as our bias. I call these our “leading thoughts”. People show their leading thoughts in the ways they react – facial expressions, words spoken, body language shifts and other responses are all indicators of how people think. But here is the thing – you don’t actually ever know what someone else is thinking. The good news is… it doesn’t matter what other people think… what matters is how you choose to respond to how others think.

Open up instagram and start scrolling. Listen to your thoughts… now write them down and read them back to yourself. Better yet, speak them as you read them. Next time you’re in a meeting, do this same exercise. Listen to the ways you think as people are speaking. Write them down and read them to yourself at a later time.

This simple exercise will allow you to become mindful of the ways you think – you will hear your own “leading thoughts”. Once you are able to hear how you think, you can then start understanding¬†what factors trigger your ways of thinking. This skill will allow you to start being able to choose how you think, rather than be at the mercy of the factors that trigger your thinking.

Teaching your people how to think is a key contributing factor to culture. In my opinion it is a fundamental element to corporate culture. Raising awareness of personal bias will have a direct impact to your culture and the level of performance your company operates at.