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Thoughts that Kill Productivity at Work

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I was with the CEO of a large group of company some months ago and he told me that the greatest problem he has is how to get his people to take ownership. He believes if that one problem is solved, productivity in his organisation will go through the roof. One thing he said that amazed me was the amount of investment (financial & time) he had made in training his people to be more productive by taking ownership and the little or no result he has gotten from that.

As I sighed after hearing him, the thought that came to my mind was “as a man thinks in his heart, so is he”. This is an age long truth – we are what we think and we can do no more than our dominant thoughts.

Napoleon Hill argued in his classic book “Think and Grow Rich” based on his 20 years study of hundreds of reputable great men that thoughts are things, and that riches begin with a state of mind, the same way I want to admit that taking ownership begins with the thoughts in our minds.

More scientific explanations of how our thoughts determine our outcomes include studies on Pygmalion effect, placebo effect and the work of the psychologist Sigmund Freud who emphatically introduced the idea that we are not guided by forces outside ourselves but that we are motivated and controlled by the inner workings of our own minds, specifically the unconscious which houses primal drives that affect our life experiences.

Our minds can be compared to a bank account; we make deposits and withdrawals daily.

We make thought deposits everyday into our ‘mind bank’.

The thought deposits become our memory, what psychologists refer to as “unconscious thought” from which we draw anytime we settle down to think or when confronted with a challenge. The unconscious thoughts sit in our subconscious mind

We also have the “conscious thought”, known also as the objective mind. We make use of our objective mind in our conscious state. The conscious and the unconscious thought however act together.

When we are thinking consciously, in the process, we make an impression on the unconscious thought in what seems like asking “what do I already know about this thing I am consciously thinking about?”

The subconscious mind (seat of unconscious thoughts) runs a search through the mind bank and returns information relating to the conscious thought based on what has been deposited previously.

For example, you have been given a task to achieve and you are thinking now that you are inadequate. The thought goes into the subconscious mind to search what has been deposited initially and comes back with instances that confirm that you are truly inadequate.

In a flash, the subconscious mind like google returns search results such as a reminder of the time when you tried to speak in public and you couldn’t because you were afraid or bring back a memory of when you were in the higher institution and someone told you that your class work was very poor. This search result becomes confirming evidence that you are truly inadequate.

What is taking place is that your mind is processing the information you supplied to it and the way you approach the mind determines the search result you will get.

If you are thinking positively like this, “I need to tackle this difficult situation as against “I cannot do this “the humble servant, Mr Subconscious mind runs a search and returns instances like;

–         When you had a seemingly impossible deadline to meet and you were able to find your way around it.

–         The time your boss commended you for doing a good job in a project committed to you

–         The time you gave a talk and a gentle man came to tell you that you have inspired him.

This experience leaves you with a level of confidence that makes you approach the task with a mind that you can do it. If however you have thought negatively about not capable of doing the task, the mind would have as well helped you confirm the position.

A very important part of this process is to know that there is a two way relationship between your result and your thought. As we have just seen how your thoughts affect your result, your result is an experience from which further thoughts come from.

When you are productive, your mind bank is filled with deposit of good deeds that it can call up when you are faced with a new challenge. When you don’t get good results, you may begin to think negatively about this, and in turn sow seeds for future failure. For example, negative thoughts like “I am not good enough” could find supportive evidence in not achieving results if care is not taken. Not that we are all immune to failure, but when it happens, we must never allow it to define us or preoccupy out thoughts. You must rise up from the failure and move on.

What you hold in your mind with energy and focus will tend to be created in reality (The law of attraction)

Here are some negative thoughts that kill productivity at the workplace and in business generally and the behavioural disposition they elicit from us;

Negative thoughts sap energy while positive thoughts invigorates. The effects of all these negative thought patterns is no or low productivity. You achieve less at work than your talents permit.

The implication of this for us is that when we think about productivity issues, we should not just think about training programmes to address skills gap, we should also have behavioural change programmes that help check our thought patterns are right for productivity.

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About Author

is a Professional Human Resource Leader , Career Counsellor & Capability Trainer, who helps individuals and organisations work from their position of strength. He is the Principal Partner at Career Edge Limited, based in Lagos, Nigeria.

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