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Edition 35 – Overthinking

I caught up with a colleague of mine on the phone the other week. Great guy. Fantastic personality. Very smart. However, he overthinks almost to the point of inaction. Almost!

We were talking about some new opportunities in his business. He could see the potential, then proceeded to come up with a range of reasons as to why he couldn’t do something about it right now. He needs new marketing material, he said. What’s wrong with your existing material, was my reply? How do you know if everyone that is your ideal client has read it?

My advice to him was simple. You offer immense value to your clients and you’re not giving them the opportunity to work with you when you overthink things. You’re doing them a dis-service by not telling them how good you are and what you could do to help solve their problems.

Now, to be fair to him, he is not alone. I’ve come across a lot of people over the years that overthink things way too much. Here’s my reasons why I believe people overthink, and my recommendations to counter it:

  1. They’re afraid of offending someone
    If I am going to see a doctor for a health issue, I don’t want the diagnosis polished up. I want it real and true. I want the corrective action that I need to take to be declarative. My doctor recently told me I’m overweight and my cholesterol is too high. Eight weeks later, I’ve dropped almost 7kg and feel a lot better. I didn’t like what he told me at the time. However, I respected his opinion, so listened to it and acted upon it.
  2. They’re trying to be politically correct
    There is a difference between being politically correct and being offensive. People will respect you for taking a position, provided you back it up and are not vilifying people. If you are wishy-washy in your advice, you’re invariably the type of person that no one wants to deal with. If you won’t commit to a straight answer, you’re not solving their problem, you’re adding to it.
  3. They’re afraid of success
    I believe some people overthink for they fear they’ll succeed. They start to worry about the work any success will generate or the expectations that clients will have. All of which leads them to be tentative, completely unappealing and, most likely, heading down the path of failure, not success.
  4. They don’t look in the mirror
    We view ourselves through the prism of who we are, our personality, our professional or employment status and our own thoughts. Others view us through a completely different set of eyes. What we do might seem ordinary or day-to-day to us, but to others, we are doing great things or solving huge problems. Why not ask those around you what they respect about you? It could be an eye opener.

As for my colleague — he was approached between our phone call and this newsletter by a former client who loved his prior work so much they’ve asked him to act as their high level advisor. I don’t believe he ever knew the high regard in which he was held, until now.

This Week’s Tip

Stop filtering your thoughts. Get it out into the open. You’ll be more productive and have a higher sense of achievement if you stop overthinking and start actioning.