What Were You Thinking?

Thinking monkey“What were you thinking?”

This line, spoken most famously by TV’s Dr. Phil is one we’ve probably all used on someone or even said to ourselves. Usually when something has been screwed up.

Have you ever considered making thinking part of your normal everyday routine?

Consider this: We know it’s a good idea to eat healthy and exercise in order to keep our body in shape. What good will it do you to have a fantastic healthy body and a brain that can’t seem to make a good decision? If you’re really serious about being effective and successful in your career, you need to take time to think. Here are some things to consider:

Venue. Be sure to pick the best location that offers you the optimum thinking space. For me it’s being on a long drive or outside doing yard work. Others like to use a busy space like a park or a Starbucks. Use what works best for you.

Time of Day. I can usually think best in the morning but often get ideas all day. For dedicated thinking time though, it’s always the morning. Pick the time that provides you the best flow of ideas.

Tracking You Thoughts. If you get your best ideas and solutions during your thinking time, be sure to figure out a way to capture your ideas. I use my Evernote app or the graph paper in my portfolio.

What You Think About. Make sure you cover the bases. Think strategically (big picture) and think micro (brainstorming one idea “in the box”).

Tools. Mind mapping is also a good way to guide your thinking. It’s like doing a brainstorming session by yourself. For a guide on how to mind map, click HERE.

Take time to do your thinking on a regular basis and you’ll find a credible answer when somebody asks you:

“What were you thinking?”

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Malcolm “Coach” Munro is an organizational repair expert and the President and CEO of Hired Guns Consulting, LLC. You can view and download some great resources on his blog at www.CoachMunro.com

Take Time to Think (Video)

Why You Need to “Own It”

burgerMcDonalds is in the news again today. Steve Easterbrook assumed command of the Golden Arches on Sunday, replacing Don Thompson who retired. Easterbrook plans to turn McDonalds into a “modern, progressive burger company.”

McDonalds managed to lose market share because it failed to remain true to what it really is – a place to get cheap, unhealthy food quickly and conveniently. As a kid, I remember looking forward to Friday nights because my parents would take us to McDonalds. My dad would go in and order the food and we’d all eat it in the car. Nobody cared that it was fatty and unhealthy. It was good. Road trips would not be complete without a stop at McDonalds. Greasy French fries and a Big Mac that dripped secret sauce all over your lap.

Today McDonalds is trying to be all things to everyone. Healthy food, apple slices in the Happy Meals, fancy coffee, and a huge menu. It’s trying to compete with Chipotle and Panera. It’s no longer true to itself. I miss my fatty, unhealthy friend!

At the core of who we are is our real self. It’s what defines us and makes up our being. We are a product of our environment and our upbringing. It’s the foundation on which we build.

It’s the foundation on which we build.

That’s the key. We all need to work on growth and improvement. It’s how we stay viable and marketable. No matter what though, who we are is something we have to own. Good and bad. Whatever your start, OWN it.

  • My career in the Navy was unsuccessful – but I OWN that!
  • I’m not a big fan of conventional wisdom in my field – but I OWN that!
  • I will never look good in a Speedo – but I OWN that!

This week, think about what you need to own. McDonalds will never succeed until it goes back to what made it successful in its early years. You’ll never be as successful as you can be until you go back and own what got you to where you are. If it was tough, learn to navigate through it and learn from it. If it was great, learn how to leverage it. No matter what though, make sure whatever you become, you still pay homage to your foundation. It’s what brought you to this point.

Time to Get Your “Surge” On!

surgeIn 2006, the United States was involved in a somewhat unpopular war in Iraq. The situation wasn’t going well and public opinion was dropping. In an effort to turn the tide, then-President George Bush approved what was called “the surge” (an additional force of 20,000 soldiers and marines) to provide overwhelming force to turn the tide. It’s still unknown if it was the sole reason for an improved situation, it all depends on whether the commentary comes from MSNBC or FOX. Either way, “the surge” of 2007 was a factor in improving the situation. The use of overwhelming force is one strategy to change a situation.

This past weekend my daughter and I flew up to Maryland to help my parents prepare their house for sale. We’re concerned about them being alone now that we’ve moved and with my dad’s health becoming an issue, we’re pushing them to sell and move. When we arrived, we saw that they made progress getting rid of stuff and packing other things in preparation for the move, but much work remained. Part of it was the overwhelming amount of stuff my parents still had to pack or dispose of. Another reason was the fact my dad can’t do a lot and works rather slowly. I suspect another factor was a deep-seeded reluctance to sell and move. Either way, my daughter and I delivered “the surge” of our own. We organized boxes, listed items on Craigslist, moved an enormous library of books, and generally straightened up the place. By the end of the weekend, all but one item was sold on Craigslist, the books were moved into the basement to be boxed, and my mom even made progress on her file cabinets. When we left on Sunday, I had the signed listing papers in hand which enables us to make an offer on a place for them here in Tennessee. The use of overwhelming effort allowed us to make significant progress.

All of us face uncomfortable or frightening situations. Our first reaction is to play ostrich and hide our head in the sand. Our second is to put dealing with the situation off until we feel confident. I wonder what would happen if we simply implemented “the surge” and attacked the issue? Here are some potential areas that “the surge” might fix:

  • That annoying project that needs to get done.
  • An uncomfortable conversation that has to take place with someone.
  • A big decision that you’ve been putting off.
  • A job change that ought to happen.
  • That phone call you’ve been dreading.
  • A personal habit that needs to change.

For these issues, “the surge” might consist of new knowledge, a support system of friends and colleagues, the wise counsel of a trusted adviser, and maybe, most importantly, a deadline that will not change.

This week, take a look at situations that could use “the surge.” Line up your overwhelming force and take it on. Problems usually don’t leave on their own. They simply grow in both size and consequence. Deliver “the surge” this week!

Are You a Thought LEADER or a Thought FOLLOWER

Leader vs follower conceptIn my field, there are hundreds of experts. Some are better known than others. Some are dead or inactive and still have materials and theories available and in use. Many offer certifications in their programs and for a fee, you can be a licensed practitioner of ________.

There’s nothing wrong with that. I can appreciate traditional knowledge.

On the other hand, there are plenty of new thoughts, ideas, models, concepts, and tools that have yet to be invented. If you’re working towards being an expert or thought leader in your field, why not focus on discovering new knowledge?

I’ve seen trends (this is more politically-correct than calling them “fads”) in my field for some time now. Individuals create new ideas, practices, or tools that become standard practice and when they get to that stage, they beckon practitioners to jump in. Soon, RFPs come out asking for a certain certification or designators as a must-have and practitioners rush to get them. This leads to saturation in the market. Certification programs thrive while those who pay for and work hard for get the letters by their name only to find there are too many others now chasing after the same targets. When I lived in the DC area the one I saw most often was a leadership coaching certification program offered through a local college. While it’s a great program, it’s expensive and time-intensive. Only a handful of folks I know with the certification have a successful practice even though every coach you talk to say they have “more clients than they can handle.” Personally, I turn down most requests (and I get lots of them) for individual coaching as it’s too time intensive. To date, nobody has ever asked me if I was certified in anything.

This year, I made a commitment to never again “quote a dead person” in any of my workshops. I figure there is plenty of new knowledge out there and I’m determined to find it. I’ve also transitioned from using tools such as the MBTI and DiSC in favor of the MOFFA™, MBSP™ and MWFL™ online assessments that I created myself.

Rather than follow the conventional methods of demonstrating expertise like program certifications, “guru” licensing, or being a follower of such-and-such, why not brainstorm what you’ve learned and develop it into your own standard operating information. Being certified in Covey, Blanchard, Maxwell, or any of the others is fine, but really the only ones who really benefit are Covey, Blanchard, and Maxwell – the ones who created and license the content. Good for them, but I’m interested in YOU. Let others come to you and beg to be certified rather than you being a follower. There is plenty of undiscovered knowledge out there that will solve today’s problems better and set you up to conquer those of tomorrow. That’s how leaders are born.

This week, no matter what field you’re in, why not become a thought LEADER, not a thought FOLLOWER? The world wants to hear from YOU!