A Saturday morning habit that helps me be less stupid

Story

I recently started a new habit. Every Saturday, I go for a 90-minute walk.

The trigger to this was reading a book that a friend recommended to me:  “The Road Less Stupid” by Keith Cunningham.  

One of the first lines in the book is “Smart people do dumb things.”

The message the author tries to convey in his roughly 300-page book is super simple:

The key to a better life is not to do more smart things, but to do fewer stupid things. And the reason why we do too many stupid things is that we don’t take enough time to think.

In other words, the less time we have to think, the higher the risk of doing something stupid. This not only applies to big decisions, but also to the small daily ones.

In other words, the less time we have to think, the higher the risk of doing something stupid. This not only applies to big decisions, but also to the small daily ones.

Insight

If we don’t take at least 5 minutes time to think – and write down! – what is important on any given day, we are likely to spend the day just being busy. 

The same applies if we start a week or a quarter without clear priorities.

Although I would not go so far to say that being busy without following a clear objective is stupid, I think it if fair to say that it is probably not the smartest thing to do.

Getting clarity about what is important and what is just expedient requires thinking time. 

However, a frequent complaint I hear from many people is that they are too busy to find a quiet moment to think. 

For instance, in my leadership training, I ask people to write down their top three priorities for the week, and one top priority for the next 90-days. At the beginning, less than half of the participants complete the exercise, arguably because they are too busy.  

But I am not surprised that people find the exercise challenging. Although making up one’s mind does not take a lot of time, but it is hard mental and emotional work. Which is why we often avoid doing it.

That is why I started with my Saturday walking habit. I use the time to reflect about the week behind me and about the week ahead of me. That rarely takes me more that twenty minutes, leaving me well over one hour to think about other things in life.

Action

I invite you to start a personal thinking-time habit. Of course, it does not have to be a 90-minute walk every Saturday.

  1. As an individual, why not start with a 30-minute walk once a week.
  2. For leadership teams, why not introduce a quarterly thinking time session, in which the leadership team reflects about – and write down! – the insights of the past quarter and agrees on the priorities for the following one

If you and your team would like to escape the „too-busy-to-think trap“, we can help with with facilitating a strategic thinking time session. 

If you would like to discuss these ideas further, leave us a note, and we will get back to you.

Other blog posts you may find interesting