Martin Baines
Thinking about it …?

Think About It....?

So, here's a question ... have you thought about what you have done so far today, or have you just "done it"? We are, essentially, creatures of habit, which is a good thing in some ways ... for example, when was the last time you actually thought about the process of breathing or walking?! These things just happen because our brains have been hard-wired over time so breathing and walking have become natural to us and, thankfully, we don't have to consciously think about doing them on a daily basis. But, what about other daily activities that you carry out? Do you think about the process or do you spend some of your day on 'autopilot'? We believe that a great deal of what we do on a daily basis at work (and probably at home too) is habit and this might mean we are not being as effective in our jobs as we possibly could be. A great analogy here is that of driving a car; I am sure that this has happened to you ... you drive somewhere, park the car, switch the engine off and then think to yourself, "I don't remember getting here!".

You know you have got there, because you started a Point A and you are now at Point B, but you don't remember the journey! Scary eh? Now, cast your mind back to when you learned to drive ... remember when 30mph seemed like 'warp-speed'? I'm confident you are aware of the concept of 'levels of competence' and this is really well demonstrated in driving. If you were like me, when you were very young, you sat in the back of the car with Mum or Dad driving, and made random car noises and pretended you were driving too (ok, maybe that was just me then), but really you had no idea - this is the first level of competence, 'unconscious incompetence' .... you don't know what you don't know. Then when you reached 17, or whenever it was for you, you took your first driving lessons and after a few minutes with the instructor, you thought to yourself, "Oh my, this is impossible, driving is SO hard"... and you moved from 'unconscious incompetence' to 'conscious incompetence' ... or in other words, you know what you don't know and that you have LOTS to learn.

Over time, with lessons, you learn to drive, but you have to consciously think about what you are doing .... look in the rear view mirror, check the wing mirrors, indicate, check blind spots for traffic, take your foot off the accelerator and depress the clutch and change gear, then manoeuvre ... you move to 'conscious competence' ... really concentrating on what you are doing to get it right. Then, after passing your driving test you get on to the roads and gain experience driving until it becomes a habit and you reach 'unconscious competence' ... driving becomes second nature and that is when the occasional "I don't remember getting here" situation occurs.

So, what if you had to take your driving test again today? How many of you think you would pass?! I won't open a can of worms and ask how good a driver you believe you are, safe to say that we probably all believe we are better than we really are! And here's where we can turn this scenario to the workplace ... are you consciously thinking about what you are doing, or do you sometimes live on autopilot? Do you have any "I don't remember getting here" type moments at work? Do you think you are doing a great job, consistently, every day, or, with help and focus, could you improve your performance?

So, here's a challenge for you ... once you have read this, commit to consciously thinking about what you do and ask yourself these questions:

  • - How well are we carrying out the process?
  • - Are we sometimes cutting corners?
  • - When we really focus on doing the basics right, how much improvement is there?
  • - How much of a positive difference does it make by consciously thinking about what we do?
Good luck - let us know how you get on!


For more information about how we can support you and help improve your people, process and performance, drop us an e-mail: or give us a call on 01223 646458

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