“Five percent of the people think; ten percent of the people think they think; and the other eighty-five percent would rather die than think”. This often repeated quote is regularly but wrongly attributed to Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and philosopher Bertrand Russell, all big thinkers in their own right. The reason for this is that they all had similar thoughts on the on the capacity or desire of humans to think, because thinking is hard work and most shy away from it. By the way, the actual author is Woods Hutchinson, an American physician who published “Balanced Work” in an edition of The Saturday Evening Post.
As entrepreneurs we are faced with a myriad of decisions we must make on any given day and quite frankly it can be exhausting. Couple that with all our other responsibilities, it leaves little time or more precisely, the energy to think. By think I mean intentionally focusing on a problem, opportunity, or challenge without distraction for an extended period of time as we search for the best solution. This is often referred to critical thinking.
Think not worry!
This is one of the reasons I repeatedly tell my audiences that as entrepreneurs, they need to make time to think. They need to find a way or a place to mentally retreat from all the day to day noise of our businesses and concentrate on the issue. For years I have used my daily walk or bike ride to ponder an issue. This 30 to 60 minute escape effectively disconnects me from all the other noise or distractions and provides focus time needed. I do not always resolve the issue, but this diversion usually provides a fertile field for ideas from which to germinate.
Too often people confuse worry with thinking and that is a mistake because there is a big difference between the two. Worry usually has too much emotional baggage attached to it and often has negative connotations that cloud our judgement. Whereas critical thinking on the other hand, is starting with a clean sheet and an opportunity mindset. This sets the stage to evaluate the issue or issues from a 360 degree perspective. The other upside to pondering our own solutions, is that it enhances our decision making process. To seriously think requires you to draw on all your knowledge and to determine any gaps you may have. Researching these gaps then adds to your knowledge and the more knowledge we gain, the more information we have to apply against future decisions.
Another way to look at it, is thinking is like exercise for the brain. As with all exercise it builds strength, resilience, and endurance to specific parts of our bodies. The same principle applies to thinking. The more we do it, the better we become, which in turn allows you to perform at a higher level.
The impact of Social Media
Although based purely on my observations, I see a disturbing trend evolving with many entrepreneurs and, for that matter, many individuals. They turn to various forums on social media platforms to solve their every problem. To my way of thinking this is doing the individual a disservice. Relying on others to help you make a decision does nothing to enhance your skill in this all important area.
To be sure two heads can be better than one, but hundreds of opinions, not so much. The problem is the audience lacks the context of your specific situation and are better used when dealing technical issues rather than directional ones. Relying on others does absolutely nothing to enhance this much needed entrepreneurial skill set. Just remember old saying that “practice makes perfect”.
IBM – Think
Thinking was so important that for years IBM had the word THINK strategically placed above every doorway as a reminder. They expected their employees to solve problems both internally and externally for their customers. Apparently, the origin stems from an uninspiring sales meeting. Thomas Watson, the founder interrupted the meeting, saying “The trouble with every one of us is that we don’t think enough. We don’t get paid for working with our feet — we get paid for working with our heads”. Watson then wrote THINK on the easel. (Wikipedia). The word THINK has since long been an IBM trademark and they even named their laptops ThinkPads, that are now owned by Lenovo.
The ability to think critically opens our minds to our own possibilities and if done well it allows you to solve problems or envision what your future could be. By thinking through the pros and cons and all the what ifs, allows you to distill a course of action that is home grown and is tailored to your specific needs. But it cannot happen unless you make the time to think.
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Get More LIFE Out of Your Business
You shouldn’t be the hardest working person in your company.
Many small business owners find that even after the struggling start-up years, they’re working too many hours and still managing every aspect of their businesses.
Greg Weatherdon has been there, done that. As an entrepreneur, he learned not only how to get a business to the point of running smoothly, but also how to reduce the number of hours he worked, delegate more responsibility to his employees, and take longer vacations while his business chugged along like a well-oiled machine. And now he is providing the secret to success.
Do you suffer from any of the following?
1. Business ownership isn’t living up to the dream.
2. Endless workdays.
3. You can’t find good people.
4. Profits are less than expected.
5. You can never take a vacation.
You’re not alone. But there is a solution. As Greg demonstrates, with some time and effort, you really can Get More Life Out Of Your Business.