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Impulsive Thinking: Beware of Jumping to Conclusions

By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy

Here’s an idea that will help you become more deliberate in your thinking.

Pull the toggle!
Pull the toggle!
Pull the toggle!

     The commands blared over my two-way radio as I hung from my parachute 3,000 feet over South Florida. It was my first parachute jump. My jump instructor on the ground screamed at me to steer my parachute for a safe landing by pulling the toggle.

     I pulled. And I pulled. And I pulled. The more I pulled, the louder the commands from my jump instructor blared on the radio buckled into my chest. And no wonder the jump instructor was fuming mad.

    I was off course and heading for a nightmare of a landing. I looked down and there were electrical power high-tension wires immediately below me. A canal just in front of me. And a wooded area to the left of me.

Pull the toggle!
Pull the toggle!
Pull the toggle!

   I pulled. My steering “wheel” seemed locked. I was drifting down to a terrible landing. And I was scared.     Suddenly the horizon began to rise on me. And thud. I landed. Not in the canal. Not in the wires. Not in the woods. I landed in a cornfield. More than a mile off target.

    “Why didn’t you pull the toggle when I told you to,” demanded my flight instructor as he climbed through the tall corn field to rescue me? Look it is as simple as this. He pulled the small handle on the steering line. And then I realized my mistake, a mistake that almost got me killed, a mistake that I had trained for at least three hours to avoid. In my excitement dangling at 3,000 feet,  I grabbed the wrong toggle. I grabbed the harness rope instead of grasping the steering toggle a few inches farther from me.

Grabbing Instead of Grasping

     Are you like me? Sometimes grabbing what is handy instead of grasping what could be more dandy. And ultimately failing to really get a grip, because we are impulsively grabbing what we CAN instead of really grasping what we SHOULD and we end up in embarrassing situations like these:

        • A newspaper headline read: FDR in Bed with Coed. (It should have read “in bed with COLD). Ooops!

       • The newsletter reporting a consultant said she had to be flexible on her fee. (She actually said “on her feet). Oooops.

        The most effective leaders I know guard against impulsive decision making. They know that it’s too easy to:

  •          Settle the argument than to argue the settlement;
  •          Too easy to debate the question than to question the debate, and
  •          Too easy to overlook –than look over–the opportunity.

Processionary Caterpillars Blindly On the March

The most effective leaders know how impotent they can be in impulsively marching blinding, following one another around in endless circles just like those circling caterpillars of French naturalist Jean Henri Fabre.

  • The caterpillars are involved but never truly engaged.
  • Those caterpillars are active but never taking action.
  • Those caterpillars are focusing but never truly focused.

Those caterpillars marched around and around to their death. They blindly followed each other to nowhere. They unknowingly starved themselves to death. Even though they marched just inches away from food. Just inches away from pulling their toggle.  And how do you guard against impulsive thinking? I look forward to reading your thoughts. Please use the comments section below.

Today’s ImproveMINT
Rein in your impulsive thinking to keep your leadership skills in mint condition.

 SUBSCRIBE: Have a Leadership Mint delivered to your E-mail every business day.  It’s free. Just click the SIGN ME UP box in the upper left column.

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6 Responses

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When REPLYing, send TO PeterJeff@charter.net.

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