Know Your Assets for Significance – Part Five: Your Most Effective Spontaneous Thoughts

Thoughts on Excellence Free E-Newsletter Series
Volume 14, Issue No. 6b
October 15, 2015

By Dan Coughlin

Your spontaneous thoughts are what you immediately think when specific types of situations or people pop into your life. They are your beliefs that force their way to the forefront of your thinking without you taking any time to consider them. They are your real attitude on display for everyone to see.

I used to coach youth soccer. When kids are ten years old they like to score goals. They don’t like to play defense. When a defender got hurt or needed to come out of the game, I would turn around and say, “Who is willing to play defense?” Most kids looked away from me or put their head down or said, “Not me.” One player, who was very good on offense and scored a lot of goals, would always say, “I’ll do it, Coach.” His spontaneous thought was, “I can do that. It will be fun.” It was written all over his face.

The way you think about a situation or another person will largely determine your ability to make a significant difference. Consider what you think about when the following happens:

  • The stock market drops 3,000 points in one day.
  • The stock market goes up 3,000 points in one day.
  • Business results for your organization are way below expectations for the quarter.
  • Business results for your organization are way above expectations for the quarter.
  • A new customer comes on board with a huge piece of business.
  • A long-time customer takes a huge piece of business somewhere else.
  • You sit next to a colleague at a meeting who is constantly complaining about policies.
  • You sit next to a colleague at a meeting who is always pleasant and positive about the future of the business.
  • An employee you’ve considered firing walks into your office.
  • An employee you’ve considered promoting walks into your office.

You can come up with another dozen situations or people you run into at work. My main point is for you to identify the thoughts you have when situations or people come into your work day. Write down those thoughts. Then identify which of those thoughts are helping you to gain the emotional energy you need to make a significant difference and which ones are draining you of the energy you need to be effective.

For right now I just want you to focus on your three most effective thoughts. Then begin to develop the habit of going quickly and consciously to the thoughts that help you to be more effective. Eventually they will become your spontaneous thoughts.


This is the fifth and final article in my series on Know Your Assets for Significance. I believe any person can make a significant different in an organization. The person’s assets are not his or her title, income, authority, gender, race, size, or personality type. Those are labels.

Here are what I believe are your assets for making a significant difference:

  • Asset #1: Your Three Strongest Character Characteristics
  • Asset #2: Your Three Most Valuable Talents
  • Asset #3: Your Three Greatest Passions
  • Asset #4: Your Three Most Important Beliefs
  • Asset #5: Your Three Most Effective Spontaneous Thoughts

Take the time to reflect and to discern what those are within you. Write them down. See them on paper. These are more valuable than any amount of money. These are your assets for making a significant difference with your life at work, at home, and in your community.