These days, I am having to work hard at expanding the quality and sustainability of my thoughts — not only to help my clients navigate change, but also to stay focused and balanced as my own family is going through a bumpy period of transition. So, I’m working on my ability to be comfortable with possibilities that I cannot yet see or imagine and on solidifying my thinking in ways that help me get to where I want to be.
Cognitive behavior therapy teaches us that our thoughts embed themselves into our words, our mindset and beliefs. And these, of course, fuel our behavior, attitudes and approaches to the world and how we react to things.
My personal vision and driving mission is to be a powerful and positive force that inspires, motivates and guides people to live their greatest potential as leaders of character and compassion. But keeping my vision front and center and retaining my sense of priorities and empathy can easily get derailed in turbulent times.
So I’ve developed some practices that help me stay aligned to my inner vision and values, that ensure that my thinking and focus is of the highest quality, and that supports my sense of who I am, and more importantly, where I want to go.
- Build in “thinking time” every day – this is specifically a quiet time, with no distractions (phone off, no one around, no calls) to actually THINK and REFLECT about things – maybe even just gazing out the window, but really thinking about what I want to do, why and how.
- Double up on contemplative practices, particularly those which involve physical activity – I go for long walks in the beautiful Parco di Monza, which allows me to be immersed in nature, but also get the physical outlet of nervous energy. What works for you? – Yoga? A run on the beach or on vibrant city streets? Dancing in your living room? Singing at the top of your voice?
Our minds and bodies are very closely connected, and being attentive to them together allows you to access different ways of thinking and knowing things, before you can even see them cognitively.
- Use mind-maps to help me think through things. I prefer mind-maps to lists, or other ways of writing out issues, because it requires fewer words, shows inter-connections and, most of all, lets you expand your thinking and show the various co-concurrences of items. Also, many of my mind-maps have questions coming from them – leaving room for further thinking.
- Talk, laugh, and share with your closest friends. One of the most priceless gifts in my life is having a network of close friends who give me support, feedback, perspective and love. I choose these friends very carefully; not everyone has earned the privilege of hearing my deepest thoughts and feelings. When you find your people, cultivate and care for these relationships carefully and with great diligence – they will always be one of your greatest assets, particularly in pushing your thinking.
It is within everyone’s reach to be influential and inspiring – by working on the quality of our thoughts and mindset, we invest in ourselves and those around us.
All the best,