How thinking inside your head can bring you down - and how to bring yourself up instead.

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A client of mine made an observation I've been sharing with others for a few weeks now, and I think it's worth sharing with you.

One morning a while back we were just getting ready to wrap up at the end of a meeting (isn't that when the real results happen?) and he said, "Chris, I've come to a conclusion." 

Of course I was very curious, and asked him to go on.

"Well, I've noticed that when I think hard about issues I'm facing or challenges I'm going through, and I do it inside my head, I spiral downward. One concern leads to another and another and pretty soon I'm feeling a bit confused and hopeless about the situation.

"On the other hand, when I think hard about issues or challenges out loud with you - outside my head - and we untangle the knot together, I spiral upward. I see possibilities, and challenge my thinking in a more positive way.

"Process inward, spiral downward. Process outward, spiral upward. Makes sense, doesn't it?"

I really liked the concept and told him it indeed made sense. And I've shared it with several other people, who also liked it and shared back how they saw the idea working in their lives. When I shared this with my colleague Steve Marshall,  he laughed, and said he had to share a story:

After serving in the Vietnam War as a helicopter pilot, Steve was learning to fly fixed wing planes, and had an instructor who insisted that Steve talk to himself while flying. Steve asked why.

"Well, if it stays in your head you can convince yourself of just about anything" replied his instructor.

One day Steve came in to land and was a bit short - 39 feet - of the runway. He hit the dirt and rolled onto the runway with no damage except a bruised ego. His instructor walked up to him in the hangar.

"One question. Did you talk to yourself?"

Steve replied truthfully: "No."

His instructor just shrugged his shoulders, turned and walked away.

A while later Steve was taking his checkride with the FAA examiner. In mid-flight, the examiner asked, "What are you doing?"

"Talking to myself," replied Steve.

The examiner didn't say anything more, and Steve passed with flying colors.

Chris Hutchinson, CEO

Chris Hutchinson, CEO

So how much do you process inside versus outside, and which direction does it take you?

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Chris Hutchinson

As CEO of Trebuchet Group, Chris Hutchinson thrives working with clients and his team to improve organizational clarity, teamwork, and leadership impact.

After years of building Legos® and tree houses around the world, Chris earned his Mechanical Engineering degree and followed that with an MBA. His experiences in the military and the business world taught him great leadership can be learned, and everyone is in some way a leader.

Clients and peers describe him as an inspirational catalyst for positive change. He is the author of Ripple - A Field Manual for Leadership That Works.

Chris and his wife live, garden, and bike in Fort Collins, Colorado, and have four children. He has an unrequited love affair with brownies.