Four Practical Ways to Spark your Thinking

516x387_ac

In my post 3 Reasons Why Leadership and Thinking are Irrefutable I wrote about these reasons:

  • It assists you in finding the best solutions.
  • It allows you to learn from your experiences.
  • It sparks creativity and ideas.

Some of the comments that readers wrote include:

Steve Bloom from Do Something Cool said: “I think if you’re a leader now, you have to also be a thinker. You can’t separate the two anymore. You could say that bad leaders don’t think at all.”

David Arnold from Reflections from the Alley said: “I think growing intellectually is a huge way we grow as leaders. I like to read more academically challenging books to grow mentally.”

TC Avey from Wisdom of A Fool said (ps. She just released a book worth checking out, check it out HERE): “Taking the time to reflect upon situations is a great way to learn what worked and what didn’t work.”

Floyd Samon from There Go I Said: “If a leader isn’t thinking ahead to what might be coming their way, they’ll get blindsided by a Mack truck… What worked this season may not the next. It is the leaders with wisdom that navigate the shark filled waters successfully. No thinking, no wisdom…”

Zechariah Newman from Zachariah Newman.com said: “I sometimes get in the false mentality that I don’t have time and make way to quick of decisions. When I have slowed down and thought about it I have saved way more time. So that would be my other reason. backing off and thinking will save you and me time and energy. Due to smarter working not harder working.”

Kari Scare from Struggle to Victory said: “Thinking is the process by which we capture our thoughts. We determine which ones need to stay and be processed further and which ones are unhealthy and need to go. Thinking helps prevent problems, and it helps strengthen relationships. Thinking takes us from mediocre to excellence.”

These provide a clear reason to the value and some of the benefits to why leaders should take time to think. I’ve learned thinking is a regular habit that must be formed and applied through every season. Whether you are busy or not, feeling encouraged or needing encouragement, or motivated or feeling a lack of motivation. To help you regularly think, during every season of life and leadership, here are 4 ways to spark your thinking:

1. Exercise-

Exercise releases endorphins which can energize the body and mind. Taking a walk, doing cardio, or lifting weights are great ways to spark your thinking. The key is to be intentional about thinking during or after you exercise. I personally enjoy taking walks/runs at the beach because the environment really allows me to think, I usually leave with several new ideas or thoughts. Schedule regular time to exercise and be deliberate about allowing the release of endorphins to spark your thinking.

2. Flip the switch off-

Flipping off the switch to technology can be a valuable way to spark your thinking. Watching too much TV, spending a lot of time online, or an overuse of your phone can really cause clutter to come into your mind. Being intentional about flipping the off switch can clear and detox your mind, freeing you to think. The clearing of the mind offers the potential for good thinking.

3. Engage in personal growth-

One of the powerful benefits to personal growth is that can spark your thinking, on the topic you are learning about. Personal growth cultivates new and valuable ideas and thoughts. Regular time growing and learning will in turn cause you to become a better and deeper thinker. A lot of my own ideas and thoughts about leadership have come from thinking during or after learning. Personal growth will raise your level of thinking.

4. Spend time with smart and wise people-

Your thinking will rise (Or lower) to the level of the people you associate or spend time with. When you are regularly spend time with smart, wise people, and those who think, your own your thinking will be sparked. The truth is that you become like those you are around so chose to be intentional about being around people who engage in thinking. Be intentional about talking on the phone, video chatting, and/ or having face to face meetings with those who take time to think. The results will be that your thinking will be sparked.

Question: Can you add to the list? How do you spark your thinking?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • DS

    You make an excellent point in #4 regarding who you surround yourself with. We are directly influenced by those around us – good or bad. In the Compound Effect, Darren Hardy makes this point in an excellent way using an illustration of three people. One person grows, one stays the same, and another regresses. Small things add up and become enormous things later.

    • Great illustrations. It’s so essential to be careful about who we spend our time with. Thank you for adding to the discussion.

  • First, I am honored to be quoted in your post. Thank, you. Second, all of what you list is essential for a leader and for quality thinking. I would add something about breaking the routine. I am on vacation with my family this week and am reminded of the value of a different place, routine and schedule. Stimulates the mind, especially if you leave some (most) of your “normal” and “usual” routine at home. I always come home after vacations with more ideas and some creative thoughts ready to be explored.

    • Glad to share your wisdom:)

      Breaking our normal routine or getting outside our comfort zone is so essential, on so many levels. Thank you for adding to the post and I hope you enjoy your vacation. It’s amazing what happens when we take time to relax.

  • Dan Erickson

    I would add to practice creative projects. Whether it’s writing, music, cooking, carpentry, art, or landscaping, using the power of creativity can stimulate a new level of thought.

    • I like what Dan says. Some analytical people say they aren’t creative, but if they would pursue some activity that would engage the “other side” of their brain, they would find their right side is sharper.

    • Great addition Dan!!! Thank you for sharing.

  • That’s a great list, Dan. I really think the one about hanging with wise people can’t be understated. The big one for me that I feel brings more wisdom and clarity to all aspects of life is an in depth Bible study. It stretches the mind in ways that brings deeper wisdom that defies the world’s logic.

    • Great point, the Bible has unlimited wisdom that can spark our thinking. Thank you for reading and adding to the topic.

  • Hi Dan,
    This is a great list and I need to “flip the switch” more often. Not so much the TV, but rather the phone in general. My wife and I were on vacation last week and I still found myself periodically checking work emails which I know was cheating me out of my vacation.

    One item I would like to add to your list – complementing hanging with wise and smart people, is to have a coach. A good coach can get those creative juicing flowing by asking the right questions.

    • Hello Bill,

      I hear you, turning off my phone or getting away from it more often is something I’m working on as well. Great point about having a coach! Thank you for adding to the discussion.

  • Great post Dan. I struggle with flipping the switch off. This last weekend was the first time I have fully turned off, that I can remember in a long time. Man I feel refreshed. I need it more often:)

    • Nice, it sounds like your really benefits from turning your phone off. Thank you for sharing.

  • Dan,
    Here’s how I spark my thinking:

    1. I think about specific questions and try to keep focused on that question until I have solved it. This is harder than it sounds like, because the mind tends to want to think about something else if it cannot immediately answer a question.

    2. I meditate and stop thinking on purpose. Just as with your walks, I find myself having ideas pop up then.

    3. I read good books and get ideas from that.

    • Hello Ludvig,

      Those area three great way! Thank you for adding to the topic.

  • For me, it can also be flipping the switch of the TV on. Catching an engaging TV has really been sparking my creativity lately.

    • Nice, TV shows and movies can really allow us to think about different aspect of a topic/leadership. Thank you for sharing.

  • Three more ways, Dan for sparking my thinking is first watching webminars and seminars, reading books outside your expertise or work and teaching (not only the teaching part but and the interaction art via Q&A, etc ). Excellent insight, Dan.

    • Great additions Takis!!! Thank you for adding to the topic.

  • Thanks for mentioning my book, Dan (really appreciate it).

    I struggle with turning switch of my mind off. I can turn off all social media and unplug from the daily grind, but sometimes my mind just doesn’t stop racing. One of the best things I can do at these times is to either read my Bible or immerse myself in Praise music.

    • My pleasure TC Avey:)

      I’m the same way, It can be a challenge for me. I try to plan at least one day a week were I’m unplugged but it does not always happen. Thank you for adding to the discussion.

  • Exercise is huge, especially running. No earphones. No listening to podcasts. Become a purist as a runner. Run and let your mind go. The best ideas I ever come up with come when I’m running as a purist.

    • Love your suggestion about running. Thank you for reading and adding to the discussion!

  • Man. I couldn’t agree more with exercise. I work out each morning before I start my day, and it’s the perfect way to transition from waking up to working. I find that even going for a short midday nature walk is the perfect way to clear my head and get more done the rest of the day :-)

    • Exercise has several benefits. It’s good for our health and mind. Thank you for taking the time to share.