There is typically little time between a thought and the action, between our challenges and our solutions. We think and do; think and react. We let urgency control our ability to take a moment to breathe and sit with the thought. No longer are we letting thoughts simmer and take form, we are implementing them before they’re fully developed because we don’t feel we have the time, either it’s too pressing to wait or there are more important priorities that need our attention.

My life has been greatly impacted by C. Otto Scharmer’s incredible book, Theory U, in which he speaks to the importance of elongating the time we spend between our thoughts and our actions. By doing so, we open ourselves to a whole new world of possibilities, the realization of results that are way beyond our original thinking. When a thought comes into our minds we immediately start to attach judgments based on our prior experiences, habits, and biases. This, in effect, puts limits on the possible actions (i.e., the potential solutions) and makes it difficult to “experience” the thought and to “approach” the challenge with fresh eyes.

The ability to suspend judgment and redirect our energy to new possibilities is not easy by any means, but it starts by looking inward:

  • What is our contribution to the problem at hand?
  • What are we doing to limit the potential outcomes?
  • Where are we limiting the creative genius of ourselves and those around us?
  • How can something new manifest itself when we won’t let go of our habitual thinking?

On a more immediate basis, start to notice the patterns of your thinking. Do you stay open to alternative outcomes? Are you giving others the chance to express themselves? Are you letting thoughts fully develop? Are you taking time to sit still and let new possibilities emerge?

We can hurry up and follow our reactions or we can slow down and create a future that we never thought possible. Where do you want to go? Think about it before you respond.