5 Thought Patterns That Hurt Your Leadership

5 Thought Patterns That Hurt Your Leadership

“You are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you.”

James Allen, British philosophical writer and author of As A Man Thinketh

1) Selfish thoughts

Human nature always pulls toward self. Whether it’s as hard-wired and instinctual as survival and self-preservation or on a more surface level, we simply want our way.

The smallest of things reveal this truth. For example, on Thanksgiving day as I looked over the wonderful desserts including pumpkin pie and chocolate chip cookies, I immediately spotted the cookies with the most chocolate chips and grabbed one. It’s just in us.

When we allow self-centered thoughts to enter into our leadership, we run the risk of making decisions that are in our own best interest rather than in the best interest of those we serve.

Instead, our goal is the selfless and even sacrificial model of Jesus as our best example. That kind of thinking leads to highly effective and lasting leadership.

2) Unrealistic thoughts

Leaders have big dreams and great vision. It’s easy to see how that truth plus hope and determination can result in unrealistic goals. Further, most leaders have a strong drive. That is like pouring gas on the fire of unrealistic thinking!

Unrealistic thoughts invade your leadership in a variety of ways from financial commitments to vision-casting, including over-promising and under-delivering.

As spiritual leaders, faith is essential. We need to think big, but faith and prudence is a wise combination.

3) Fearful thoughts

In some ways, fear-based thoughts are the opposite of unrealistic thinking. Fear causes you to freeze up, hold back, and sometimes say no when you need to say yes.

Fear is sometimes connected to a lack of trust in God, but more often it’s a lack of belief in yourself and not wanting to appear foolish by making a mistake or failing as a leader.

Fear binds your thinking. Faith and trust in God frees your thinking. God has promised to be with you. His incredible love casts out fear and the spirit He has placed in you does not make you timid, but instead gives you power, love and self-discipline. This is a great foundation for courageous thought patterns as a leader.

4) Negative thoughts

Over the years, leaders have confided in me that their discouragement leads to negative thinking. They don’t believe these things overall, but their thought patterns have succumbed to their discouragement, and that results in poor leadership.

The result of negative thinking are things like first seeing the faults and flaws in people, believing new plans and strategies won’t work, or becoming convinced they are not good leaders.

At risk of sounding overly simplistic, a negative thought pattern can be changed faster than the other thought patterns mainly because it’s a choice. You can choose a more positive thought process in one evening and begin practicing and becoming more consistent immediately.

5) Anxious thoughts

Worry is worthless and wasted thinking. Most things we worry about never happen.

Anxiety is real but does not carry a life sentence. If your anxious thoughts seem manageable, I still recommend talking to a trusted leader and friend. Get perspective, pray and pursue the truth of God.

If, however, your anxious thoughts have become anxieties, it may be in your best interest to seek out professional counseling.

Similar to fear, worry and anxious thoughts jam up your leadership, but breaking free is entirely possible. Don’t settle for being stuck in an anxious thought pattern. Rather than being anxious about the future, you can anticipate the future with great hope.

Here’s an encouraging scripture to leave you with:

The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

II Corinthians 10:4-5.

This post originally appeared here.

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Dan Reiland
Dr. Dan Reiland serves as Executive Pastor at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He previously partnered with John Maxwell for 20 years, first as Executive Pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, then as Vice President of Leadership and Church Development at INJOY. He and Dr. Maxwell still enjoy partnering on a number of church related projects together.