Hooper Leadership Coaching
Accelerating Leaders


Thoughts on Leadership

3 Sources of Mental Noise

Leaders process a lot of mental noise while carrying out our mission. The noise reverberates in our minds and causes constant stress, worry and anxiety. There are at least 3 sources of mental noise which we must deal with: False Assumptions, False Priorities, and Limiting Perceptions.

There are at least 3 sources of mental noise which we as leaders must deal with: False Assumptions, False Priorities, and Limiting Perceptions
There are at least 3 sources of mental noise which we as leaders must deal with: False Assumptions, False Priorities, and Limiting Perceptions

Inner Voices

When I worked at Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Customer Service, I learned the art of mental focus. All day long I was on the phone with customers and health providers and it was mentally exhausting.

The opportunity came up to go through management training. That’s when the noise started.

The mental noise was deafening.

I wrestled with inner voices while wearing a confident mask.

Noise 1: False Assumptions

Our minds can sometimes draw blanket conclusions based on incorrect or incomplete information.  We assume that reality is based on the noise, drama, and distress.

It is relatively easy to see these patterns in others, and hard to see them in ourselves.

Which ones of these false assumptions do you unsuccessfully use?

  • All or nothing thinking
  • Jumping to complaints, negativity and cynical conclusions
  • Myopic seeing and focusing only on a small detail instead of the big picture
  • Magic Bullet—assuming one single idea will solve everything
  • Moralizing that something that is neutral is morally good or bad
  • Sweeping personal judgements and labels
  • Writing off or minimizing the positive and focusing on the negative
  • Getting stuck in the past
  • Bringing in unrelated issues as if they were relevant
  • Reading another’s mind
  • Rushing to conclusions with little or no data
  • Predicting the future like a mind reader without data
  • Thinking based on guilt or what you should do instead of outcomes and data
  • Magical thinking or assuming more control over a situation
  • Perfectionistic thinking or relying on standards no one can realistically meet
  • Emotional conclusions—feeling something is a certain way means that something actually is that way
  • Either/Or vs. And thinking—creating false dilemmas when both options are possible

Noise 2: False Priorities

Getting results requires the ability to mentally focus. Sometimes we set priorities that set us up for failure in the longer term.

[Tweet "Ask yourself this question: "Would I rather (blank) or be successful?""]

Which of these false priorities would you use to fill in the blank?

  • Look good
  • Be the hero
  • Enjoy prestige
  • Get attention
  • Be right
  • Be above it all
  • Get credit
  • Escape
  • Be smart
  • Hide
  • Be funny
  • Dominate
  • Be interesting or eccentric
  • Thwart
  • Be liked
  • Sabotage someone else
  • Be perfect

Noise 3: Limiting Perceptions

The inner voices of our identity and performance greatly affect our perceptions for good or harm. Which of these noisy limiting perceptions do you have?

  • I am not good enough
  • No one can do it as well as I can
  • I am not smart enough
  • We can’t find good people
  • I can’t trust other people
  • It has to be perfect
  • I am not likable enough
  • Any time I fail means that I am a failure
  • I need to be liked
  • This is my baby and only I can get this done
  • I can’t show vulnerability
  • Conflict is bad
  • I need to be in control
  • Taking risks is bad
  • I need perfect information
  • Talking about money is bad
  • Amazing things never happen to me

Final Thoughts

Executive and Leadership coaching doesn’t focus in the realm of pain, dysfunction, or therapy.

Instead, we work on identifying the sources of noise like false assumptions, false priorities, and limiting perceptions.

Once that is done, we can begin shifting the old and unhelpful mindsets into new beliefs, thoughts, actions and habits.

Read over the three lists and identify three examples from each area.  What is the cost to you and your organization from these 3 sources of mental noise?