what is the value of a thought?

deep in thought

What purpose does a thought serve?

They seem sometimes merely to generate new thoughts, which in turn father more and yet more.

They seem to occupy us. Keep us busy. Deflect us from our experience in the moment.

They seem to be our ticket to our claim of species superiority. World domination. Although recent world events and the erosion of the planet’s resources might argue otherwise.

They seem to be the root of judgement.  Judgement of others. Judgement of ourselves.

They seem to be the foundation of our communication. The exchange of ideas and knowledge with fellow thinkers. Yet two things seem to be true here; firstly, whilst we exchange thoughts we are often distracted from, and dismissive of, our own feelings. The thoughts, and their exchange with other thoughts from other thinkers, perhaps a distraction from an unspoken truth about how we feel. Secondly, our thinking stops us listening.  We are so busy marshalling our own thoughts we don’t really hear the thoughts of those we are supposedly communicating with.

Yet, thoughts seem to be the catalyst for our learning. Generating new awareness, new understanding, new skills.

So I wonder… is the value of a thought always clear?
Is the value worth the cost?
It seems to me… sometimes, but equally sometimes not.

image by: Lisette Wennström

the asterisked correlation

communication pace of life correction text

The growth of text talk has seen the rise of another phenomenon. That of the second text. The text that follows, moments later, containing an asterisk and a single word.

The *correction text

The sender has realised after hitting SEND that they have made a typo, or that predictive text… hasn’t.

Since when did we start communicating in a manner where, checking what we were saying after we had said it, was the norm?

Perhaps it is a reflection of the speed of our lives that we are so keen to press send, to move on, to get to the next thing that we just accept the need to be brief, to rush, the need for pace in everything. Taking our time seems unfashionable.

It has been said that as much as 90% of our communication is non verbal. Yet we have embraced the hurried text, the garbled few words typed whilst walking down the street; the hastily thrown response, punched out with a single thumb whilst holding on to the handle on the swaying bus; the abbreviated language, peppered with emoticons, which seeks to communicate fully to another human being.

Maybe we would do well to slow down here? To reflect on the emotion we are trying to convey. To stand in the shoes of the recipient, interpreting this stream of characters and letters without the advantage of seeing our faces, hearing the tone of our voice, seeing our smile…

Walk along any busy street these days and we are all nose deep in our phones, communicating constantly. I was told recently that more people in the world have access to a mobile phone than have access to a toilet. More communication than ever before. Always on. Global.

Yet perhaps the quality of that communication has suffered at the hands of the quantity?

Time perhaps to reflux?



are you busy? too busy to read this?

stop the glorification of busy
Are you busy? Too busy to read this? If so, maybe you should read it…

In recent months I have noticed the conversation starter at the coffee machine at work follows a familiar path, when you meet someone you haven’t seen in a while, whoever it may be. Maybe you recognise it? Or maybe you instigate it?

It goes something like this …
“Hi long time no see. What are you busy working on at the moment?”
“How are you?” Back comes the reply, “Really busy. You?”
“Hello, not seen you in a while.” “No things have been really busy…”

If you’re really busy you might want to stop reading this now.

If you live to an average life expectancy you have a total of around 620,000 hours. Given that we sleep for around a third of that, you have about 410,000 usable hours.

Time is a strange concept though isn’t it? I mean, what is an hour?

I often have the following debate with my wife when the clocks change – she’ll say something like “We gain an hour this week-end” and I’ll respond, “No we don’t, it’s just that what we call it has changed. Six o’clock is now known as five o’clock.” The Earth, Moon and Sun still move in the same harmonious rhythm. We still have the same amount of time in our lives. What we call the time is just that, it’s what we call it.

And we can call ourselves busy. Too busy to spend a few minutes on someone or something that is really important to us.

What matters most is how you use your time; those precious hours that are in short supply.

When was the last time you simply did something you love?
The last time you were kind to yourself?
The last time you carried out a random act of kindness?
The last time you stopped and really noticed another human being?
The last time you checked in with yourself, properly?
The last time you gave someone the gift of your full attention?

Next time you meet someone at the coffee machine, if the conversation starts down the ‘busy’ route, ask them a great coaching question and really listen to their response.
Maybe something like …
“… and how would you like it to be?”
“… and if you weren’t busy, what would you be?”

or maybe just invite them to contemplate what they would be doing right now if they were doing something they love.

And now you’ve read this … go and take five minutes for yourself.