7 Thinking Styles That Jeopardize Your High-Performance and Leadership

Earlier this year, I did some research on technology that I could leverage for my coaching work with clients.

Because…. well, I think that Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Wearable Technology, Virtual Reality, and even simple apps will (and are already!) changing the field of coaching.

Don’t worry, those things will never replace real human conversations and connections but they are able to augment coaching.

Anyhow… as I was doing this research, I came across a simple but great app called quirk.

Quirk helps you catch negative thinking patterns that can cause stress, fears, and the like. It is based on the fundamental principles of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

While we could talk for days about CBT (or the app…) for this purpose here, all we want to take away is that the way we think has a big influence on how we feel and act.

When you start thinking a certain way, let’s say negative, and you keep thinking these thoughts repeatedly, they can quickly become a pattern.

But the thing is, unlike your physical activities where you are aware of everything that you do, it is a lot harder getting a grip of your thinking patterns.

According to the National Science Foundation, an average person has about 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day. Of those, 80% are negative and 95% are repetitive thoughts.

Think about this for a moment… How many times a day do worry, are frustrated, impatient, anxious, annoyed?

Now, of course, all negative thoughts are not bad. But most of them only create imaginary stress in your mind.

Ok, and tell me how this relates to leadership?

Many leaders, including the clients I work with, want to shift some of their feelings and actions to be more impactful and influential at work.

For example, maybe you want to feel more confident, communicate more assertively, navigate conflict with less anxiety, or respond more calmly under pressure.

To do any of this requires more than just reading about the latest leadership best practices or listening to a podcast…

It requires that you go deeper to understand what thinking styles might be influencing your behavior, and how these need to change so that you can feel more confident, less stressed, and calmer, etc.

By the way, if you want to learn more about how I help my clients with this, reply to this email and we can jump on a call.

Now, here are some of the (unhelpful!) thinking styles or patterns which could be jeopardizing your high-performance and leadership.

1) Mental filter:

When you use mental filters, you pick out a single negative detail and dwell on it. You may receive lots of positive comments about your presentation at work, but if one colleague says something mildly critical, you obsess about it for days.

2) All or Nothing:

This thinking style, also referred to as black and white thinking, focuses on the extreme ends of a spectrum. It doesn’t account for any middle ground, compromise or balance. Examples of this could sound like this: “If I’m going to help, I’ll have to take the reigns completely,” or “Defending my point of view means I’ll need to be aggressive,” or “Being committed to my work means my health will have to take a back seat.”

3) Catastrophizing:

This type of thinking views situations as far worse than they actually are. It often shows up when you’re in the midst of a difficult situation or are anticipating something that may be challenging. It could sound like the following: “This initiative isn’t producing early results. It’s going to totally fail and the company might go under,” or “My boss wants to give me feedback. I bet it’s going to be negative. Ugg, I might even get fired.”

4) Minimization:

Some high-achieving leaders have a tendency to ignore or downplay their successes and only focus on areas of improvement. If this is your thinking style you may miss an opportunity to acknowledge what you’ve already accomplished. If you’d pause to celebrate successes along the way, you could benefit from additional positive momentum and confidence.

5) Should-ing:

“I should be farther along than I am.” “I should have done it that way instead.” “He should be handling this better.” Any of these sound familiar? Be on the lookout for “shoulds” in your thinking or language. These statements typically represent an overly judgmental or critical perspective, whether directed at yourself or others. As a result, you may be left feeling deflated, incapable, or frustrated.

6) Over-Generalizing:

This thinking style uses one particular situation or event as evidence of a greater pattern or conclusion. For example, if a leader goes through a particularly tough situation, they might overgeneralize to “Nothing good ever happens to me.” Or, if a young professional is turned down by a potential mentor, they may overgeneralize to “No one wants to support my growth.”

7) Mind Reading:

Leaders caught in mind reading imagine that they know what others are thinking. It can be really unhelpful, especially if you imagine that a colleague or team member is thinking something negative, opposing or critical. This could lead you to interact with that person in defensive, aggressive, or less confident ways.

Do any of these sound familiar?

Do you have a thought that keeps coming up for you?

Being aware and observing your thoughts without judgment is the first step to changing your thinking patterns.

This week, simply start paying attention to your thinking patterns and the styles listed above that you might fall victim to. The next step will then be to turn the negative thoughts into positive ones.
For example…

  • If you fear failure, think about one instance when failure helped you to learn a lesson
  • If you’re insecure about your skills, remind yourself how much you’ve improved since you started
  • If you stress about work, think about how your work is serving other people
  • If you don’t like your coworker’s behavior, identify at least one positive thing about that person

Here is a quote from Louise Hay which brings this to the point.
“I don’t fix problems. I fix my thinking, then problems fix themselves.”

Lastly, If you’re curious about quirk, then head over to quirk.fyi to check out what it tells you about your recent negative thoughts.

It’s fun and eyeopening 😳

If you like this and you want to learn more about how I help leaders be successful and feel confident in their roles, then schedule a call HERE and let’s chat.

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