Last week’s blog struck a nerve with many people when I suggested that as well as a “to do list” we should have a “not to do list” and I had a number of conversations with people saying that they had whittled down their priorities. This is a great exercise to do and a discipline to repeat but I wonder what are some of the other things that we do that don’t any longer serve us or serve our purpose and that we could benefit from not doing any longer.
What might you be aware of that you are doing that is not really having the best effect? I am noticing the number of times we tell people what to think. We give them our opinions, our thoughts, our view of the world and I wonder if we were to stop doing that, would that encourage the people we encounter to develop their own thoughts more?
If we stopped answering so many questions, how much could we encourage and help people to think for themselves? So when a member of your team asks how they should prioritise the tasks they have for the day, instead of telling them, you might ask them what their decision might be and why. Perhaps by stopping yourself from answering their question and starting to encourage them to think things through for themselves you will do both yourself and them a great service.
I find we do this all the time as parents. We answer and instruct and tell, yet rarely do we ask and encourage our children to think for themselves, and yet surely if we want to really prepare them for life we should be encouraging and fostering their ability to think things through, to have well balanced and thorough thought processes. All humans have this ability but so rarely do we cultivate it and allow it to grow and develop. I met someone this week who described our tendency to instruct rather than to encourage the thought processes of the young as a form of child abuse.
Strong words, but I understand her passion and her point.
For those of you who are leaders in business I wonder how often, in the meetings that you run, are you doing the speaking? How often are you giving the answers? How often are you, perhaps delicately and politely, but really, telling people what to do, say or think. If it is a lot perhaps you should stop it. Stop it and unleash the creativity and ownership of the people you lead.
“The single most important factor in whether people can think for themselves is how they are being treated by the people that are with them while they are thinking.” Nancy Kline