Article Display
Email  |  My Account  |  Donate
I have a designated "thinking chair" in my office.

I don't sit in it when someone drops by to talk. I don't take power naps in it. I use it only for thinking.

This chair doesn't think for me, but it does speak to me every now and then. If I've gone a few days without sitting in it, its presence subtly reminds me that I'm not devoting enough time to the all-important task of thinking.

When we fail to make thinking a priority, we develop what author Gordon MacDonald calls "mental flabbiness." This may not sound like a life-threatening condition, but some ways, it can be quite dangerous. Here's how MacDonald explains it:
In our pressurized society, people who are out of shape mentally usually fall victim to ideas and systems that are destructive to the human spirit and to human relationships.

They are victimized because they have not taught themselves how to think, nor have they set themselves to the lifelong pursuit of growth of the mind. Not having the faculty of a strong mind, they grow dependent upon the thoughts and opinions of others. Rather than deal with ideas and issues, they reduce themselves to lives full of rules, regulations, and programs.
You can't be an effective leader with a mindset like that—it's just not possible.

Fortunately, there is an antidote to mental flabbiness: making time to think. I realize this can be a daunting assignment for people whose schedules are already bursting at the seams. And yet, when we don't make thinking a priority, we're actually sabotaging our own creativity and success.

Think about it. One of the highest commodities in a person's life is a great idea. A great idea has transforming power. It can take you places you may never have dreamed of going. But great ideas don't come out of nowhere. They begin as thoughts.

So, it stands to reason that the more time we spend thinking, the more great ideas we'll have.

The good news is that it doesn't take hours of thinking each day to generate ideas and stay in good mental shape. You can accomplish a great deal in a few moments of concentrated, intentional thought.

Let me give you two examples of how this works in my life. Every morning, I devote three minutes to what I call "big-picture thinking." I look at my schedule for the day and ask myself one simple question: what's the main event?

Of all the things I'm going to do, of all the people I'm going to see, of all the experiences that I'm going to encounter, what's the main event?

You can't prioritize your day if you don't see everything in your day. That's why I practice big-picture thinking in the morning. I have to pick out my main event early, because whatever it is, that's where I had better be at my best. I'm human, and I don't always hit the ball out of the park.

Sometimes I don't hit the ball at all. But at the main event, I had better hit a homerun. Big-picture thinking helps me achieve that goal.

At the end of the day, I spend another five to 10 minutes doing what I refer to as "reflective thinking." I go to my thinking chair and spend time reviewing my whole day. I ask myself questions such as, "Who did I see today? How did I add value to those people? What lessons did I learn?"

Reflective thinking doesn't take long, but it's an incredibly valuable exercise because it turns experience into insight.

Can you imagine what would happen in your life if you practiced big-picture and reflective thinking? You would stop wasting time on things that don't really matter, which would give you more energy for the really important activities.

You would be more organized and efficient. You would experience less stress. Most importantly, you would also take more away from each day that would enable you to lead better the next day.

The best way to start this process is to designate a specific place to think. It doesn't matter if your "thinking chair" is in your den at home or your office at work. It just has to be a spot where you can do nothing but think for a few moments twice a day.

The bottom line is this: If you find a place to think your thoughts, you'll have more thoughts. If you find a place to shape your thoughts, you will have better thoughts. And if you find a place to stretch your thoughts, you will have bigger thoughts.

All this, from just three minutes in the morning and five to 10 minutes at night. As you can see, the results far outweigh the time investment.

This article is used by permission from Dr. John C. Maxwell's
free monthly e-newsletter: Leadership Wired
available at

Author Biography

John C. Maxwell
Web site: Injoy Group
John Maxwell grew up in the 1950s in the small Midwestern city of Circleville, Ohio. John's earliest childhood memory is of knowing that he would someday be a pastor. He professed faith in Christ at the age of three, and reaffirmed that commitment when he was 13. At age 17, John began preparing for the ministry. He attended Circleville Bible College, earning his bachelor's degree in 1969. In June of that same year, he married his sweetheart, Margaret, and moved to tiny Hillham, Indiana, where he began his first pastorate.

About Us

The online ministry of cfaith has been helping people discover faith, friends and freedom in the Word since 2000. Cfaith provides a unique and comprehensive collection of faith-building resources for the worldwide faith community.

At cfaith, you can strengthen your faith and deepen your understanding of the Word of God by digging into the vast collection of teaching articles, streaming audio and video messages, and daily devotionals. No other website offers such a unique and extensive collection of spiritual-growth resources aimed at helping you grow in your knowledge of the Word.




Support Us

Why support cfaith?

(All contributions are 100% tax deductible)


For every Internet search you make using
goodsearch, cfaith will receive one penny!

GS Logo 250x38

Contact Us

Business Hours:

Monday—Friday: 9 a.m.—5 p.m. CST
Saturday & Sunday: Closed


(763) 488-7800 or (800) 748-8107

Mailing Address:
9201 75th Avenue North
Brooklyn Park, MN 55428


Login Form

Please ignore the “Secret Key” field; it is not needed to log in to cfaith.

Login Change Article

You need to enable user registration from User Manager/Options in the backend of Joomla before this module will activate.