Stop Thoughting So Much
David Freund, Chief Leadership Officer

This past week I heard a new word that, well, isn’t actually a word, but maybe should be. That word is Thoughting. As I reflected on this “word” I realized that far too often I might think that I am thinking about something, when in fact I am only Thoughting. Rather than confuse you any further, let me try to explain.

Thinking is an ongoing activity. The definition of thinking is the process of using one’s mind to consider or reason about something.” Thinking is an intransitive verb. Thinking is an action which implies that it is an ongoing activity. Thoughting, on the other hand, is holding on to something we thought about in the past, not considering how it can be improved, and yet fooling ourselves that we are still working on it.

No one ever had a great thought by themselves and yet so many bosses never include others in their thinking process. Believing that they have all the answers and the ability to “think” better than others, they reach a decision and then share it with their team. In an effort to seem inclusive, they share the idea with their team and ask for feedback. They may even have fooled themselves into thinking they really want the feedback. Their team, however, reacting to past experiences, simply acquiesces and moves on with a potentially flawed, half-thought-through plan.

Building on my statement that “No one ever had a great thought by themselves,” the best leaders know this and continue thinking about their idea by engaging their team. They share their thinking and encourage others to chew on it with them. Author Liz Wisemen calls them “debate makers.” They know they need help to improve their ideas, and the team knows they are sincere, so they actively engage in the thinking process.

As I was “thinking” about my newly discovered word, I reflected on my Inner Circle. You have heard me use that term in the past. These are people who I intentionally invite into my life to speak truth to me. They love me unconditionally and help me see my blind spots. They help me see what I am missing and help me think at a higher level. The problem with this group is that they know me very well and may not be pushing my thinking to a high enough level. They are somewhat predictable. Please don’t get me wrong, I still love and value them immensely, it’s just that something is missing. That something, or these people, are now my Outer Circle.

In the same podcast where I heard the word Thoughting, I also heard Outer Circle. Our Outer Circle is made up of the people that we intentionally seek out who can share thoughts and ideas with us that are outside of our normal sphere of interactions. If we really want to move from Thoughting and back into thinking, we need to keep feeding the process with fresh ideas. Our Outer Circle can be people we meet over coffee or lunch, they may be podcasts that we subscribe to, or perhaps books we read. The key is to be highly intentional in selecting people with new perspectives. People who can shed new light on old questions. The perspective we gain from our Outer Circle can then be shared with coaches or our Inner Circle, giving our thinking even more energy.

My question for you is this, are you really thinking, or are you just fooling yourself and Thoughting? When we fall into the trap of Thoughting, we will very soon become irrelevant.

Oh, and by the way, next week I will get back to my reflections as promised.