Tips & Tools

Posted on March 16, 2023 by Blake Leath

By and large, I concur with the sentiment that “CULTURE eats strategy for breakfast,” and though Drucker didn’t write exactly that, what he did write (for example, “Culture—no matter how defined—is singularly persistent.”) suggests that anyone who underestimates Culture does so at his or her own peril.

Beneath Culture, however, lies something equally important and far more personal: MINDSET

Mindset (like EMOTIONS, BELIEFS, and BIASES) is “the software upon which our behaviors run,” and—like software—sometimes there are bugs and glitches.

Sorta like an amorphic mutation (one that causes complete loss of gene function), OVERTHINKING can be detrimental to one’s mindset.

So, what to do, what to do?

Today’s GIFT (#23, from our SERIES OF GIFTS) is a fun read by Jon Acuff entitled “SOUNDTRACKS: THE SURPRISING SOLUTION TO OVERTHINKING.” 

Overthinking is a really interesting phenomenon that, safe to say, is not evenly distributed across the population. Sure, some folks overthink, but some folks behave as if they rarely think at all! 

Or perhaps as if they have no filter.

Or perhaps as if they have no inside voice.

Or perhaps as if they have no empathy.

Or perhaps as if they have no manners.

Or perhaps as if they think too few steps ahead (infrequently considering the short or long-term consequences of their actions, as often happens when haste, instant gratification, desire, or rage trump reason). I'm reminded here of that incredible line by Ambrose Bierce: “Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.”

Overthinkers, of course, may have a rich interior life, though they may have a problem with ‘presence.’

For example, overthinkers who live in the PAST may live lives of REGRET, or (if their past was great, or even simply remembered as great), they may live nostalgically about “the good ol’ days,” pine for how things used to be, complain about “people these days,” listen exclusively to Springsteen’s Glory Days while bellied up to the bar recounting someone's successful field goal kick from 1973 that won the State Championship, or fancy themselves ‘the historian in the bunch’ whose responsibility it is to remind everyone that "Back when so and so steered this ship, we didn’t have all these problems.”

Conversely, rather than dwelling in the past, some overthinkers live in the FUTURE. If they are optimists, perhaps the future is bright... if only we can live to see it! But if they are pessimists, welp, their burden is often one of WORRY. Worry is a brain cancer, of course, but it’s also a rocking chair that never gets us anywhere. Or, as described in David Mamet’s The Spanish Prisoner, “Worry is interest paid in advance on a debt that never exists.” 

Should an overthinker’s ‘presence’ issue not be the PAST or the FUTURE, it could very well be the 'present,' aka, LIVING IN THE HERE AND NOW. The 'mentally, physically, or emotionally absent' folks are those among us whose minds always tend to wander, or who struggle to focus, or who struggle to live in and enjoy the experience at hand. 

Clearly, virtually everyone struggles at one point or another or to some degree with the past, the present, the future, or overthinking any one or all three of them. 

That being the case, anyone interested in learning more about 'being present' can explore Episode 5 of November’s GRATITUDE SERIES (“LEADING & LIVING IN RELATIONAL PEACE"), as I covered REGRET & WORRY at length there (beginning at 00:24:30).

Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy a few thoughts on Acuff’s SOUNDTRACKS, because his book is insightful, meaningful, and fun (and funny!).

I’m indebted to Austin Powell for bringing it to my attention a summer or two ago.