* No time to take time to think?

October 18, 2013 Coaching For Leaders No Comments

I was invited last night to host a conversation at the inaugural ‘Idea’s Exchange’ in Sheffield which was organised and run by the amazing team at IdeaSmiths. The Exchange is a quarterly series of conversational events to explore, share and challenge ideas about organisational learning, innovation and change.

The conversation I hosted was on based on the importance and challenge of truly thinking independently. I believe that that the quality of everything that we do depends on the quality of the thinking we do first so if our thinking is of a consistently high standard we make great decisions, get fantastic outcomes and can lead our teams and our lives with a clear sense of purpose.

Unfortunately the very conditions that we need to be able to think well for ourselves are not particularly well understood or valued so at a time when we most need to be able to come up with innovative and creative solutions we are being overwhelmed by information, conflicting demands and constant interruption.

Does this sound familiar?

What emerged during the conversations was that people could see the obvious value in thinking for themselves and appreciated that this required uninterrupted attention they just couldn’t see where they would find this time in their already over-crowded day.  Even more tellingly were the observations that often the culture in their workplaces would not support this kind of thinking and that to do so would run the risk of comment, condemnation and potential mockery. I am always struck by the sense that stopping and thinking is a time consuming activity and so becomes yet another task on our already over-crowded to do list.

A stitch in time …

It honestly will save you time, effort and money to stop and think first, before you act. How much time have you spent in your life making decisions or completing tasks which have either not had the desired outcomes or worse, had to be reversed at some point?  To be able to do this we need to know how to consistently create the conditions for ourselves and others to think things through with rigour, ease and imagination and for there to be the culture and systems in place to support this.

Making time for thinking

There is only so much time in any one day to allocate to the myriad of tasks, people and priorities that come our way – if we are not using at least some of this to actually think for ourselves about the complexity of these issues; what outcomes we truly need and what questions we need to ask ourselves and our teams to get to these outcomes is it any wonder we are feeling overwhelmed at the number of things we are expected to do – they all seem equally important and urgent, but they are not. The truly important things in life are rarely urgent but it is these things that make life, our teams and our organisations truly thrive.

Sophie Field, Coaching for Leaders

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