Saturday, July 21, 2007

Thinking Traps vs. Mental Flexibility

A while ago I asked the question "What are you tolerating?" I wrote of one toleration where people habitually come into meetings late. That results in everyone else having to wait around, push back the rest of the day and other people's appointments to accommodate disrespectful behavior. This week I'd like to talk about another toleration; that of draining thoughts and beliefs.

Holding onto old ways of doing things, paradigms and processes that are no longer applicable can bring an organization down. Often, leadership, especially a leader who founded the company way back when and perhaps taught by a mentor from a generation past, wants to stick to methods that were tried and true. That doesn’t mean everything has to be scrapped and changed but if you're dealing with thoughts and beliefs that are draining you because you're in a constant tug of war with automation, technology, methods, and new "whipper-snappers" who want to do things the 'new-fangled way', not only will you be fighting them but you’ll have an inner tug of war going on that will spiral all of you downwards.

You end up tolerating this for many reasons, one of which is because you’re not sure how to modernize or change that paradigm without looking 'stupid' (or so you think). Those become thinking traps or patterns of thought that become roadblocks to success. These thinking traps don't serve you any more. It's time to revisit, upgrade your thinking, personal operating system or whatever you want to call it.

When you get into thinking traps you’re no longer making decisions that are best for your lives and/or organizations. It has nothing to do with how intelligent you are. It has to do with how quickly you can integrate new ways of thinking that will serve you better. It’s mental flexibility.

Are you tolerating a leader who is stuck in a thinking trap? Could you be the one who might be stuck? Before you jump in to answer on instinct...give it a thought for a moment or two. Care to share?

Donna Karlin

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