Discipline of Thought--A Key Leadership Trait

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Discipline of Thought--A Key Leadership Trait

Sounds kind of heavy… to discipline our thoughts doesn’t it? Why do it and what’s the effect? In the last several months, I’ve battled a recurring series of thoughts that often get me depressed. Some say, just go see a psychiatrist and get over it--mild depression, hey everyone feels blue now and then… But I know there's more to this opportunity and want to let it be a defining moment of my life.


Parker Palmer, one of my favorite authors talks in depth about how we as a society deal with depression in various forms, ranging from experiencing the economic effects of falling stock markets (the “Great Depression”) to clinical depression, an illness of the psyche. I’m currently reading his book, A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life in which Parker claims that we have “chance after chance to regain our bearings.”


So follow my ideas on disciplining my thought as an opportunity, not just to regain my bearings but to move forward in a more powerful way. Now, understand that I’m not really lost and clinically depressed and am in no way intending to trivialize the darkness many people face every day. I simply realize that in order to move toward my vision of what I want, I’ll need to start taking some bold, well-intentioned, steps. My first step was to begin with a rigorous discipline of my body (yes, the body and the mind are intricately and indelibly connected). I’ve followed a moderate workout schedule for the last decade but this time a major jumpstart was needed.


Today after a good, hard workout, the link to leadership dawned on me—the willingness and ability to keep track of our thoughts, or even to begin simply noticing that we’re thinking something is one of the keys to great leadership. Think about a leader you admire. They surely had a powerful, well-defined vision and organized their life around it. They were likely knocked off their path frequently by setbacks, poor communication or failures, and yet they had the drive to go back to what they wanted and keep pursuing it.


So today, I’m choosing to watch my thoughts and notice when they’re wandering off into ever recurring, depressing thoughts. I’m choosing to follow a more disciplined, rigorous fitness schedule and I’m finding it incredibly freeing. In fact, I already feel that my vision of a world filled with powerful, mindful leaders is in sight!


What might be different in your leadership today if you watched your thoughts more closely? How much more aligned with your purpose might you be?


As Mike Dooley says, “Thoughts Become Things… Choose the Good Ones” -- I agree!