029 Are you frozen in place by linear thinking?

The way you’re thinking about your next great beginning may be keeping you frozen in place—and you may not even know it.

Are you frozen in place by linear thinking?


This episode’s Inspire Me quote is from William Shakespeare:

“Action is eloquence”

New beginnings are about taking action and we’ve been conditioned from early in life to think in such a way that may actually hinder action. We’ve been taught to think linearly—first this, then that—so well that we may not even recognize its limitations.

Leary and Armin discuss three attributes of linear thinking:

  • Linear thinking focuses on dependences and sequences. We may not move until something else is first done. Non-linear thinking, on the other hand, is messy, random and highly creative.
  • Linear thinking assumes a perfect ideal. Completing something is the only real measure of success. Non-linear thinking is willing to abandon a task because it will never be perfect, and that’s okay.
  • Linear thinking optimizes around safety. Understanding risk is of paramount importance. Non-linear thinking can hold two tensions simultaneously; the tension of present responsibility and future exploration.

It isn’t that linear thinking is bad and non-linear is good. We need linear thinking every bit as much as non-linear, but we seldom consider whether how we are thinking about something may be hindering our next steps.

Some ways to cultivate non-linear thinking include:

  1. Giving HOW a vacation. We often think about HOW to do something before we think about WHY we do what we do or WHAT we want to create.
  2. Develop alternative roadmaps. Create your sequence of steps to pursue your venture. Then set it aside and create another completely different version. See how many variations you can create.
  3. Ask another person to suggest an approach you should consider, or better, ask them to give you the most unconventional next step they would recommend you take.
  4. Identify which of your action steps are internally controlled (it’s up to you do to) or externally controlled (it’s out of your control). Which of your internally controlled steps can you do while waiting on the external to come through?
  5. Segment the actions you might pursue into NO, MAYBE, YES, and INCUBATE (those ideas that can wait).

The Challenge Me for this episode pick one of the five ways listed above and give it a try. Or come up with your own and leave a comment about it below.

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