Who was your best manager? Think about this – we will get back to it.
Your thinking is split into two components – cognition and meta-cognition. Cognition is your day-to-day processing of information. It is how you implicitly understand the world around you. Meta-cognition is the awareness of your own cognition. Many people refer to this as the voice inside your head. Perhaps that voice is reading you these words right now…
By being aware of that voice inside your head, you are in a sense using meta-meta-cognition. And now, by following this logic, thinking about your meta-meta-cognition is causing you to use meta-meta-meta-cognition (the thinking about your thinking of the thoughts of your own thinking). Stop and think about that for a second… (actually, don’t)…
Obviously this can get very confusing very quickly, so for the sake of everyone’s sanity, and for the simplification of this post, we will talk about the two main players here – cognition (the employee of the brain), and meta-cognition (the manager of the brain).
So, who was your best manager? Was it someone who was supportive, inspired creativity, and reduced stress? Or was it someone who over-analyzed your every move, was detrimental to creativity, and induced stress? Most people would probably pick the first of the two options. The ironic part about this is that our brain-manager is often the latter of the two.
How many times a day do you find the voice inside your head criticizing what you do? … How you look, how you move, how you talk, the grade you got on your last chemistry exam, your plans for the future, that stupid thing you did in first grade – all being analyzed and over-analyzed. Are these thoughts constructive and motivating, or are these thoughts full of anxiety and becoming detrimental to your daily living?
Eckhart Tolle refers to cognition and meta-cognition as the “self” and the “thinker”. He recognizes that for most people, the “thinker” induces unnecessary anxiety. His solution to this problem is to get rid of the “thinker” entirely, and to live purely in the “now”.
Although clearing your mind often is a very healthy thing to do, this is not the end-all be-all solution. In fact, your meta-cognition is an extremely powerful tool if you learn how to use it correctly. If someone is bad at their job, you do not get rid of that position in its entirety. You simply fire the original guy and hire a better person to replace him…
The issue with firing your brain-manager is that he is a tough guy to get rid of. You fire him one day, and then you find him creeping around the office the next day.
A good place to start is to recognize how terrible your brain manager actually is. Do not try to argue with him. Simply recognize when he is doing a bad job. Over time, you will find that your manager is more supportive and more productive rather than just giving you unnecessary anxiety to deal with.
Your meta-cognition is a beautiful thing. It is part of what makes you human. If used in the right way, it can be an extremely helpful and supportive tool. Utilize your meta-cognition, and start your path to a healthy employee/manager relationship today.