Travelling to highly-populated countries really makes me appreciate home in so many ways. As I walk around big cities where the air pollution results in a constant haze and rarely a blue sky, I wonder ‘at what point did the locals stop noticing how hazy it is?’ Did it creep up on them or did they grow up not knowing any different? As a tourist, it seems that life goes on as normal, with little apparent concern for the effects of all that pollution.
When I look around my own city, I see the same phenomenon: not in pollution of our air but pollution of thoughts. From every angle someone is trying to grab our attention and to hijack our thoughts for their own purposes.
More likes, more sales, more clicks; the news cycle bombards us relentlessly. Social media is omnipresent, seductive and addictive. All those distractions have steadily invaded our headspace, and now we don’t realise how hard it is to have free uninterrupted thinking.
Where does that leave business owners?
All that thought pollution means we’re squandering a lot of brainpower thinking about things that have zero impact on our businesses and do not align with our goals in any way. Space to think, strategise and solve difficult problems is severely compromised and goals are also skewed in the process. Gaining likes and followers can become an obsession, even when the evidence of being able to convert these to actual paying customers is thin.
As a business owner, your mind is the most powerful tool you have. Imagine if you could harness all your brain power and direct it towards the things that really count:
• growing your business,
• creating innovative client solutions,
• generating new opportunities,
• devising marketing solutions,
• developing yourself or,
• giving extra attention to your family.
We all know the best solutions always come to us when we’re in the zone, unencumbered by mental contamination.
So how do we break the cycle, cut through the clutter and get real space to think? It’s not always easy, but with some discipline we can develop habits that will help. Habits like:
1. Prioritising the thinking that is most important in your life and learning to be selective what you think about.
2. Being clear on your goals and most important challenges, so you know what things you need to spend time thinking about.
3. Turning off the gadgets for a while and giving your brain a rest (this includes phones, TV, radio, social media, emails and news).
4. Learning to enjoy total quiet and meditate if you can.
5. Exercising – it is the best place to think and best stress relief there is.
6. Managing expectations of your colleagues and clients; for example, you set the time frames on response times.
7. Viewing social media and news for what it is – mostly manipulative rubbish. Give yourself time limits each day to indulge.
Thought pollution is now ubiquitous, and if you want to get back free space to think, it’s going to take some work. But it will be worth it. If you can tap into more of your brainpower, problem solving will likely improve, you may enjoy it more and you’ll definitely find yourself enjoying a competitive advantage.
Do you enjoy any unpolluted thinking time during each day?