What Thoughts Are You Listening To?

One of my favorite tasks as an Executive and Manager used to be the Thought of the Day.  This was a short quote or story that I would blast out to my team in the morning.  The intent was to either educate, motivate, or communicate depending on the needs and mood of the business at that time.  To understand these needs or the mood of the business, I would use the following:

  • Things I heard or heard from others around the office or at our business locations
  • Feedback from an anonymous online suggestion box where team members could write-in their concerns, questions, etc.
  • Financial Reports – was the business doing well or not financially
  • Feedback from our customers, summarized weekly by way of a feedback questionnaire
  • A bi-annual employee questionnaire
  • My “feel” as to what was needed

This may seem like a good amount of information to utilize in order to postulate what the company needs at a given point of time.  However, as the business grew larger (for me it was around 12 employees and 1M in revenue), it became increasingly difficult to understand what was really going on in the minds of our employees and customers.  Good and honest feedback that is representative of the large majority is extremely difficult to come by for any CEO.  It’s one of the reasons why we are constantly peppered with surveys, questionnaires, emails, and calls from companies to get our opinions on things.  That data helps drive decisions.

Which leads me to my current thought of the day courtesy of Dan Carlin.  Dan puts on two of my favorite podcasts, Hardcore History and Common Sense, which dive deep on history and current events.  If you are interested in either, I highly recommend both.

During Dan’s latest Common Sense podcast, which you can find here, he effectively asked the question, “what if our politicians are taking action and making decisions based on the loudest 10% of Americans and not the other 90% of the country?”  This post is not meant to inspire political conversation or action, I merely found the question interesting in that this seems to be another example where incomplete data could be driving a very significant operation, in this case, the US Government.  I then started to think about areas within my own life where I could question my assumptions based on lacking data.  This ultimately lead me to happiness.  We have no way to evaluate whether or not we are actually happy other than what we feel at that moment.  Our feelings are based on the thoughts running constantly in our head.

What if the thoughts we are hearing are wrong or incomplete?  What if the thoughts that are driving our decision making are actually the loudest 10% and not the 90% that is most representative of how we are actually feeling?


Photo is of an old car that probably has more stories to tell than this author.

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