“It’s not the events that shape my life that determine how I feel and act, but, rather, it’s the way I interpret and evaluate my life experiences.” – Tony Robbins
2020 has been among the most challenging years in recent memory. A global pandemic, a severe economic downturn, multiple thousands of businesses are forced to close, many permanently, and people are left with more questions than answers.
Yet amid all the panic, pessimism, and confusion, there are many taking giant steps forward while others are being immobilized by fear. How could there be such disparity of thought between so many facing the same life-changing challenges?
The answer lies in how we think; our mindset determines whether we sink or swim; the adage “it’s not what happens to you, but what happens within you that matters” is correct. Learning how to think differently allows us to see the same facts as others with different outcomes.
It’s all about where we choose to place our focus. We are either moving forward with a plan or frozen in place with a problem. Some people see all the obstacles in their path, while others see a path in all the opportunities. You must accept that no one is a victim of circumstance, but a victim of their thoughts. Life changes the moment we decide to think and act intentionally good with the hand we’re dealt. Quality intentional actions follow high quality intentional thinking.
Intentionally Focused Thinking is a Quality of All Good Leaders
“Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action.” – Peter Drucker
John C. Maxwell says, “Changing from negative to positive thinking isn’t always easy, especially if you have a difficult time with change. For some, it’s a life-long struggle. Do you know what most people’s number one challenge is when it comes to making positive personal changes? It’s their feelings.
They want to change, but they don’t know how to get past their emotions. But there is a way to do it. Take a look at the truth contained in the following syllogism:
Major Premise: I can control my thoughts. Minor Premise: My feelings come from my thoughts. Conclusion: I can control my feelings by controlling my thoughts.
If you are willing to change your thinking, you can change your feelings. If you change your feelings, you can change your actions. And changing your actions based on good thinking — can change your life.”(1)
Never Underestimate the Impact of Intentionally Focused Thinking
Intentionally focused thinking is empowering; by examining how and knowing why you think, speak, and act as you do, you become a master instead of a victim of circumstance. The obvious alternative to being in control is being out of control.
Intentionally focused thinking doesn’t mean you control all your circumstances; it means you intelligently choose your responses to them. Whether you’re riding a wave of successes or failures, deep intentional thinking allows you to make more informed decisions with a higher probability of successful outcomes.
Ask yourself, “why did I make that decision?” or “Why was that the best option, or were there other options?” Let such thoughts linger until the reasons become clear. Was that decision in line with your purpose? Did it advance your stated goal, lead you away from it or delay it? Why?
Be specific with your questions and thorough in thinking through your answers. As you become better at questioning yourself, your thinking and assessments become noticeably clear. You’ll see mistakes where adjustments need to be made. Where you succeed, you can enjoy the moment and reward yourself.
You’ll begin to see if your assessments, goal setting, and solutions are being carried out on schedule. This kind of intentional thinking helps you put things in a proper perspective.
The Power of Intentionally Focused Thinking
Sustained intentional thinking is the kind of focused attention that helps you understand past successes and failures, increase present self-awareness, and accurately map out where you need to go. Despite its variables, your future victories are no longer a gamble but a high probability of success.
It’s empowering to:
Utilize past experiences to strengthen your purpose and plan your future.
Recognize trends and patterns through wisdom gained to make the most of your opportunities.
Psychologist Daniel Goleman says, “Directing attention toward where it needs to go is a primal task of leadership. Talent here lies in the ability to shift attention to the right place at the right time, sensing trends and emerging realities and seizing opportunities.”(2)
Intentionally focused thinking enables you to pay attention to detail, eliminate distractions, and think through an issue with clarity until you see a solution. Dr. Robert H. Schuller said, “It takes but one positive thought when given a chance to survive and thrive to overpower an entire army of negative thoughts.” Practice intentionally focused thinking and never be a victim of fear or circumstance again.
“No problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking.” – Voltaire
(1) “Thinking for A Change” by John C. Maxwell pg.4-5 Warner Business Books 2003 (2) “Focus” by Daniel Goleman Kindle Edition pg. 209 Harper Books
*** This article was authored by John Picarello, Chief Leadership Officer at Lions Pride Leadership Co.***