Is Your "All or Nothing" Thinking Holding you
Rest assured. We all have been
known to take things to the extremes of
"all or nothing."
always and never
are common when you fall into the
trap of "all or nothing" thinking.
foundation of "all or nothing" thinking is fear.
But as a result of this thinking, we usually don't
feel the fear; instead we usually feel anger
There is evidence of this type
of thinking in all aspects of our lives. Here
are a few examples on how this thinking may sound in
"I was passed up
for that promotion, I will never make it
in this company."
"We didn't go on
vacation again this year, we never do
"My boss is so
insensitive, she always ignores my
"I told them what
to do, but they never get it
However, fear doesn't stop
there. It causes us to believe
that our power to solve these problems is also "all
or nothing." As a result you believe
that you either have the power (and
you plan to use it over someone else) or you don't (and
need in your life,
at home or at work.
Both extremes (you over-use power or
you under-use it) can immobilize you and rob you of
getting the results that you want
The truth about power is that it is NOT
a zero sum game:
- When you
believe someone else has power, you don't need to give
- When you
believe you have power, you don't need to take it from
Power is not about
"all or nothing," however fear can trip us up into
believing that it is.
Leaders in the face
of difficult times need to be aware of this "all or
nothing thinking" that is fueled by
Fear is rampant
during difficult times and not always easy to confront,
causing extremes to surface and power struggles to
endure. Leaders are more apt to exert excessive
power or to relinquish it too easily during these trying
extreme pole are you taking? Are you blaming
others for your situation? Or, are you trying to
fix it for everyone?
In the McKinsey
Quarterly, Derek Dean has an
interesting article "A CEO's Guide
to Reenergizing the Senior Team" which
outlines ways in which leaders can
begin to work through fear and denial in order to
achieve better results.
you find that you are in a power struggle or a
blaming game, try using some of the following tips to
regain the power balance:
the extreme words out of your thinking.
Stay alert to when you use words like "never" and
"always" to describe others' actions or your
accountability. Blaming others is a clear
sign that your extreme thinking has led you to avoid
accountability. When you take accountability and
move away from blaming, you can regain
your power over the situation.
accountability. Taking on someone else's
responsibility for a problem doesn't solve it.
Examine your extreme thinking as it relates to you
having all of the answers. By giving
accountability you enable and empower
is an award-winning author of The Connected
and Committed Leader. She is also a
consultant, and a Birkman Method certified business and
life coach who has been featured on the Today Show and
Fox News. In addition, her accomplishments have been
highlighted in several business periodicals
including Personal Excellence, The Long Beach
Business Journal, The Houston Chronicle, Latina
Magazine, and Central Valley Business Times. Her
articles on management and leadership are regularly seen
in Leadership Excellence.