The Hamster Wheel of the Status Quo – Thinking about Thinking
The daily grind isn’t what it used to be. Whether it’s work or personal, we all spend more and more time rushing to meet a deadline or hurrying to get to our next appointment, moving on to the next thing while we are still physically or virtually supposed to be in the moment of something else. Devices enable this behavior. We can text a colleague while participating in a web meeting with a client, and at the same time occasionally glance through the latest newsfeed popping up on our other screen. We check our calendars, rely on our pop-up reminders, let others schedule themselves into the open spots on our calendars, and trudge onward. Multi-tasking has become a hallmark of our everyday lives, but is this model conducive to long term success?
I started thinking about this recently after being asked a question that blew me away. It was simple, direct and changed how I handle the hamster wheel of life.
When was the last time you saw someone thinking at work?
Let that roll around in your brain for 20 seconds. I could not remember a time when I saw someone taking time to think. Imagine walking into your office and seeing your co-workers thinking. Would you wonder if they were okay? Would you be concerned?
After thinking about this, my conclusion is that without taking time to think, we continue our circular race. If you like the status quo, you can stop reading now. If you want to jump off your hamster wheel, follow these three steps.
Take time daily to think
You may find a certain time of the day, or a particular place lends itself to thinking better than others, but seriously make time to consider whatever is essential in your life every day. If your reaction is that you don’t have time to think, let that be the first thing you take some time to ponder. Look for alternatives to current tendencies. Mentally walk yourself through different possibilities. Your mind is your safe place to try things.
Capture your thoughts and ideas
In addition to setting aside some time to think, don’t let those random moments of brilliance slip away. Write down thoughts on post-its. Email ideas to yourself. Leave yourself a voicemail with your world-changing idea. Brainstorms are fast-moving; these flashes of insight or understanding leave us as fast as they come upon us unless we capture them at the moment.
Cherish the failures
If our minds were vast bodies of water, we would find that most of us have significant areas of not much going on dotted with small islands of activity. As our thoughts navigate through our heads, some will be spectacular failures, some will be so-so, and a few may even become full-on train wrecks. It does not matter. They all lead to other branches of thought to be explored, and can eventually open new doors of possibility. Without failure, there can be no success.
Following these three steps will set you up for new opportunities and a more fulfilling existence because, as Louis Pasteur said during a lecture at the University of Lille in France on December 7, 1854:
“Dans les champs de l'observation le hasard ne favorise que les esprits préparés.” Chance favors only the prepared mind.