Don’t get me wrong, thinking has it’s place but when I take a good hard look at myself and the world around me, it seems pretty dang clear that our addiction to thinking may actually be our greatest limitation as a species.
My whole life I have been obsessed with trying to work out why people do things counter to their best interests. Almost 20,000 separate client meetings in just under two decades has given me ample opportunity to analyse, create hypotheses and test them.
The fact is people think too much! So often when people come to me for help, 90% of the effort is spent explaining to them what they already know they should do. Usually when someone asks a question about business direction, strategy or life choices, they simultaneously give me their own answer in the first few minutes, without even realising it. Their sentence syntax, body language and intonation all seem to tell me so clearly exactly what they should be doing.
It is so easy to fill our heads with relentless chatter, so much so that there is NO SPACE LEFT for the greatest gift of mankind … knowing. If I am being truthful with myself, in all of those moments in my life where I have gone around and around in my head with an issue, weighing up, considering and second guessing, I always knew the right answer – I just never shut up long enough to listen.
If I am being even more honest, all of my clients already knew their right answers too; sometimes I could help them see it and sometimes they would just think harder and blind themselves more.
Here is what I have also come to experience by putting my field research into personal use; the more I stop thinking, the more I start knowing.
Now for the hardest admission of all; all of those really seriously messed up things in my life where the world has seemed to go wrong and conspire against me, always came about as a consequence of me not listening to my own knowing.
You see, thinking is truly addictive, more so than any drug. It makes the simple complicated, crowding out our own knowing (which requires no internal dialogue at all) and even worse than leading us to make bad choices, it leads us to become stuck and to avoid making choices at all.
The worst and most insidious thing our addiction to thinking does to us, is cause us to second guess our own decisions that were actually based on our inner knowing. Round and around in circles we go, pretending that talking about things in our heads is ‘weighing things up’ or ‘being cautious’, when in reality it is just us making a choice to cripple ourselves (our knowing).
Thinking should be a tool of knowing, not a way to achieve it. If you really want to know what you should do, stop thinking long enough and you will. Once you know what to do, then you can put thought to task like putting a yoke on an oxen.
Many of you reading this have also spent a life advising others, so what say you? Have you reached different conclusions on your own quest for answers? Please share with me, I would love to know what conclusions you have reached?