Everybody has an opinion about something.
Opinions are just that—opinions.
People seem to forget that opinions aren’t facts. Just because someone thinks something should be done a certain way doesn’t mean it’s the best way to do it; it doesn’t mean it’s the only way, and it sure as hell doesn’t mean that it’s right.
Opinions are neither right nor wrong; they just are.
An important leadership attribute is the ability to filter input we get from multiple different sources. I had to develop the self-discipline to filter relevant input vs. tangential input, input I needed to act on today vs. input I could act on tomorrow, and input that doesn’t require any action.
It’s not the input you receive that matters, but instead the
filter you apply to make effective decisions.
There is another equally distracting voice that is constantly clouding your judgment by commenting on and explaining away situations, even before they occur. This narrative is the little voice in your own head.
Our mind is like a giant warehouse filled with remnants of past experiences, assumptions, wild ideas, and foregone conclusions. Buddha described the human mind as being filled with drunken monkeys who are jumping around, creating all kinds of noise, and carrying on endlessly. These monkeys are always chirping about the things:
- we can or can’t do
- we should or shouldn’t do
- we have to do
- we need to do
- we don’t have time to do
- we need money to do…the list is endless.
It’s useless to fight with the monkeys or to try to banish them from your mind because, as we all know, that which you resist persists.
You CAN, over time, tame the monkeys.
I had to learn to recognize the monkey mind language, tone, and stories. Like a Hollywood screenwriter, the monkeys tend to write in a certain genre—tragedy, melodrama, war, etc. Learning to manage your monkey mind is one of the best things you can do as a leader.
Pay attention to how your monkeys act—listen to them and get to know them so you can recognize when they act out, and practice changing the internal dialogue when they do.
Whether it’s external or internal, there is a tendency for the negative side of life to infiltrate our dreams and daily activities—for courage to give way to fear, and for confidence to be overwhelmed by anxiety and worry. The momentary license we give ourselves to wander outside the boundaries of self-discipline, even for a day, establishes a subtle tendency, which over time causes other positive areas to erode. Before we know it, those negative tendencies have taken us off-course.
Filter out the noise. Develop the self-discipline to filter both external noise and the chatter in your own mind.
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Self-discipline starts with a decision, a conscious decision to become better. Developing this skill is easier than you may think. In this episode, I unpack how to make a renewed commitment to BE more disciplined. Check it out: E61: Self-Discipline to Become Better