Choose CHOICE!

critical thinking leadership weekly workout Aug 05, 2022

Because we know that self-awareness is the foundation of EQ and effective leadership, today I would like to review another aspect of self-awareness.

I have had the pleasure of an ongoing friendly and respectful debate with a leader regarding choice. A comment she frequently makes when referring to a team member who has engaged in less than rational decision making, or behavior is “well…it’s a choice.”

While I do not disagree with her perspective, I think it is important to also understand that in the absence of knowing it is a choice…it is not a choice.

Neuroscience tells us that 95% of our thinking is unconscious and is the result of embedded thought patterns. There are many benefits resulting from the fact that we can rely on our thought patterns. It is wonderful that we do not need to consciously review each step as we perform an activity we have engaged in numerous times.

And it can also be damaging to depend on thought patterns that have not and do not serve us.

Some indications that we are in the automatic 95% mode can be found in the language we use.

If you are telling yourself, I should, I need to, I ought to (fill in the blank) it is a pretty clear indication that you are in unconscious (95%) mode.

Another phrase that is common and can come from the (95%) unconscious and often disempowering place is “I can’t.” To share the wise words of the father of a dear friend “don’t be a canty.”

Reaction is another indication that you are immersed in the 95% and not recognizing that you have a choice.

To be an empowered leader you need to be able to make conscious, purposeful, sensible choices and not allow disempowering automatic thought patterns to impact those choices.

Sometimes the smallest shift can make the greatest impact.

What if you began to replace the thoughts and words mentioned above with thoughts and related language of “I choose?"

Start this process by recognizing how often you tell yourself you should, need to, ought to, or can’t”

Then ask yourself… is that true? Those words are not only uninspiring they also challenge the fact that you do actually have a choice.

Begin to shift your perspective and when you notice yourself using the words I have mentioned stop and acknowledge the fact that you have weighed all of the options and are “choosing” one thing over another.

It does not benefit you in any way to do one thing and tell yourself you should do something else. “I should eat less cake” is a very disempowering thought pattern. Knowing that you are consciously choosing to eat cake may not do great things for your waistline, but it will do wonders for your empowerment!

Even if it takes time to shift your external language stay conscious (5%) when using the words should, ought to, need to, and can't. Know that despite the words you are using you are aware that you are actually making a choice. This recognition will make a significant impact in moving you from disempowered (95%) to fully empowered (5%). 


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