The Purposeful Leader

Inspiration, belief, and implementable techniques
for transforming your purpose, productivity + leadership capacity.

dig deep, show up

One Thought at a Time

Motivation, Values

“I struggle with self-worth.”

“I’ve got years of family drama to get over.”

These are big, weighty, thoughts.

They imply a flaw, a huge problem that needs solving before anything else can be done.

Something that is holding us back, every day of our lives. Until we solve it, we can’t make progress.

Because when we think our problem is a giant belief system, it feels heavy. Huge. Confusing.

Thinking this way keeps us stuck.

Because the truth is that family drama, your relationship with your boss, or your self-worth are solved . . . one thought at a time.

Self-worth as a concept? Where do we even begin?

The single thought I’m terrible at presentations? That we can investigate and change right now if we want to.

Our perfectionist brains tell us we have to solve the whole thing to get anywhere.

But that’s like thinking you can’t complete any of the tasks on a project plan until the project is complete. It’s backward. And you’ll literally never get anywhere with that mindset.

So many of my clients struggle with this. They feel the weight of a huge, looming issue and feel paralyzed and powerless.

They have a perfectionist fantasy, they want to be done, solve the whole thing. Perfection has kept them from progress.

Which has kept the issue huge in their minds, and given it so much power. Because look at the evidence they have . . . they’ve never been able to solve it.

And look, that’s what our brains do. We’re not sitting around actively thinking that we can’t do anything until we have a perfect solution, we’re just operating with that as an underlying unconscious belief. 

Your brain will tell you that one belief at a time is way to slow, that no progress can be made that way.

But the progress made from one thought at a time is far greater than no progress. Just think about the compound effect of investigating one thought a day for a whole year.

And the other truth is that starting with one thought, one specific sentence in your mind, or investigating one specific situation? It unravels so much more than just itself. The insight from hyper-specific thought work is that we gain true insight, experience true transformation. And true transformation isn’t a contained experience, it overflows into every area of our lives.

If you can transform about one situation, if you can feel it in your bones that you had more power than you were giving yourself, or that you were imagining what other people were thinking but didn’t really have evidence for it, or if you can work on that one situation with your brother so that your interactions change forever . . . Imagine what happens everywhere else.

If you have a story about a big issue, identify the last specific situation in which you think it was at play. Then identify one thought you had during that situation. Just one. Sit with that thought. How does it feel? What did you do when you were feeling that way? What was the result?

Stay with that one thought until you understand it. Really look at it. Don’t switch thoughts to the one you used to feel better. Don’t switch to the feeling you had after you left the situation. Stay. Look at it. Give yourself the opportunity to understand your own mind without judging it.

I have an amazing client who did this recently, and I have to give her a shout out. She really sat with a specific situation. She was with a friend. She felt put upon. My client had set a departure time for herself, and felt like the friend expected her to stay past it, felt like the friend was demanding too much of her time and energy. We focused on just that one situation, with one thought.

And after a few minutes, it clicked. Her posture shifted. Her face relaxed. She said, “Oh. I could have just gotten up and left. Next time, that’s what I’ll do.” The weight lifted.

Literally, never again will she experience that friend in the same way.

But she also transformed on a deeper level just from examining that one thought — because she now realizes that no one can take her time without her permission.

Just think about what a profound impact that will have. All the byproducts in all different areas of her life.

I recently had a different client jokingly say to me, “isn’t this kind of thing supposed to take years of therapy to solve?”

No, as it turns out. It’s just one thought at a time.


We don’t just sit down one day and do this — start investigating our thoughts to see if they’re serving our lives. We have to first learn it’s possible, and then follow through. It’s a discipline. It’s wanting the results of a conscious, on-purpose, deliberate life rather than being at the effect of our unconscious programming. And your desire for that life has to be more powerful than your brain’s pull to keep you comfortable. But I will tell you, making that choice is everything. If you are ready to live on purpose, and to be the one running your mental show, schedule a free consultation call.