Cameron Gott, PCC
ADHD Coaching for Leaders & Professionals
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The Global Creative Blog

Obstacles to Great Thinking

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Some of the greatest thinkers and visionaries are global creatives but many GC's miss out on this strength because they are hampered by a different type of thinking.  Over-thinking.

Do you over-think?

Is your day filled with micro-decisions?

Would you rather make choices at a higher level and leave the lower stuff to habits and routines?

Over-thinking is a classic ADHD behavior that may be stimulating but is not very satisfying. Playing the "Do I, Don't I" game with all the related worry and anxiety holds one's attention but burns up precious prefrontal energy cycling through the same never ending argument.  Nowhere is this practiced more than whether to start a task and once started when to stop.  Often it feels like perfection at work but this is more of a transition challenge.  For people with ADHD, measuring the 'done-ness' of something is extremely difficult.  This is because of two factors in particular.  First, black and white thinking inhibits the ability to see what 80% effort looks like.  Second, stopping a task means effectively dis-engaging from action.  Not easy for the high energy go-getter.  Finally our high powered rationalizer can rationalize just about any position or argument.  The result is hundreds of micro-decisions or voting through the day inhibiting real work flow.

In order to put the kibosh on over-thinking we have to develop some awareness here:

  • What has your attention?

  • What gives it it’s staying power?

  • Is it people related or task related?

  • Are you using micro-deciding to delay action?

  • Are you using micro-deciding to delay stopping?

  • Do you struggle with commitment?

Start with a cost-benefit analysis of the thinking:

  • What is the benefit of this type of thinking?

  • What is the cost?

  • What is the result?

I find it's helpful to approach an issue or thought from a different angle, a different perspective.  So notice the questions you're asking yourself.  Are they eliciting negative emotions?  What questions would elicit positive emotions?  Neuroscience tells us that sustained change cannot occur without positive emotion.

Expose the thinking to a different perspective:

  • Journal about it

  • Share it with someone who you trust

  • Look for the hidden opportunity. When we focus on opportunity we create positive emotions.

  • What's the daily practice to get us closer to this opportunity or this destination?

Committing to an exercise regimen is a great idea.  Nothing like a few laps in the pool to clear out the mental clutter.  Finally make a list of areas vulnerable to over-thinking that are really too small to give so much cognitive fire power or too important (like exercise) to be put to a daily vote.  Consider daily actions that would be better served by a repeatable process or simple habit like an AM routine.   Great thinking only happens when we clear out some thinking space.  Address the over-thinking and great thinking will follow.