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The way we think powerfully impacts our leadership influence and trajectory.

In my latest book, Unshakable Leader: The Simple Yet Amazing Power of Alignment, we devote an entire chapter to the power of our thoughts and the emotions we attach to them.

The better integration between these two, the more aligned we become. The fuller our emotional tank gets. The less integration between our thoughts and emotions, the emptier our tank gets, and the less aligned we become.

Bringing a full emotional cup to the people you’re leading and caring for is one of the most influential things you can do as a leader, now and in the future.

Romans 12:2 tells us, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” The way we think, and how we feel about the way we think, impacts us on every level, including the effectiveness of our leadership.

Thoughts are the pieces of information received by our brain. Feelings are how we react to those pieces of information. Behaviors and choices result from what we think and how we emotionally respond to what we think.

What we think and feel about God, ourselves, and others determines in many ways the degree of health and fruitfulness we experience in leading our family, team, business, or church.

So here’s the million-dollar question: How do we get our minds renewed, and our emotions aligned? Allow me to unpack two powerful ways we get this done:

Position our thought patterns with truth 

2 Corinthians 10:5 reminds us, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ.” Let’s briefly unpack this verse.

  1. Arguments – The Greek construction here indicates the idea of “accumulated thoughts.” It speaks to attitudes which over time have taken up residence in our mind.
  2. Every pretension – A pretension is a thought of human origin preventing us from knowing God accurately. The way we think about God significantly impacts the way we think about everything else.
  3. Every thought – The idea here in Greek is “thought pattern.” Every means every. Does Paul really imply we’re to take captive every attitude, pretension, and thought pattern and make them line up with truth? Yes, every last one. “Every thought changes the brain chemistry, which impacts all 75-100 trillion cells of the body at quantum speeds.” ~ B.H. Lipton. No wonder Paul insists we take every thought captive . . . because every thought we think has a powerful influence on our entire being!

Our responsibility as a leader is to take destructive attitudes or thoughts that percolate on the inside of us and subject them to the truth of God’s Word. Whatever doesn’t line up with the truth . . . out it goes. And then we replace them with the truth. Obviously, this process takes practice. Practice isn’t sexy. It’s not flashy nor trendy. But practice wins the day. The people we lead take their cues from us when it comes to the way we think and feel.

What we think, and how we feel about what we think, impacts us on every level of life. It affects our personal relationships. It influences our professional life. It flavors our leadership. Norman Vincent Peale wrote: “Change your thoughts and you change your world.”

The second piece of the puzzle is:

Taking ownership of our emotions

I’d like to focus on the preventive side of our emotions today.

How do we take ownership in a preventive manner when it comes to keeping our emotional cup full? The good news is we don’t have to understand a complex twelve-step process to gain emotional fullness. We need only to grasp this most important axiom: Discover what fills up our emotional tank and schedule it into our calendar. Simple to understand . . . harder to execute.

For me, time spent in nature fills my emotional tank. We live in a state with beautiful lakes and beaches. One hour staring at the crystal-clear blue waters of Lake Michigan does the trick. I feel revived, centered, even happy after a sixty-minute session planted on a beach, watching water. Exercise and time spent with friends also fill my emotional tank.

What does it for you? Figure that out, and get those activities into your calendar. Getting intentional about preventive emotional hygiene is the key here. Scheduling emotional tank-filling activities into our busy lives is not a luxury . . . it is essential.

As I draw this post to a close, let me pose the “Why” question. Why should we work hard at getting our thoughts renewed and our emotions aligned with those renewed thoughts? Why should we expend the effort? What is there to gain?

Our thoughts, and the emotions we attach to them, influence everything in our lives. Our relationships. Our health. Our behaviors and choices. Our leadership. Our thoughts about God, ourselves, and others, and the associated emotions we attach to those thoughts, shape the entire course of our life.

I think it’s possible to trace back every decision or choice we’ve made in life to our thoughts, and our feelings about those thoughts. If we’re serious about leading confidently and effectively, it starts with understanding the impact our thoughts and emotions have on our leadership, and then rolling up our sleeves and giving these two power brokers the attention they deserve.

I’m rooting and praying for you!


John Opalewski

Author John Opalewski

John Opalewski is a graduate of Oral Roberts University. He served as a pastor for fifteen years. He has worked in the business world for nearly two decades, serving in multiple leadership roles. John's experience as a leader in both the church and business arenas has made him a sought-after international speaker, coach and mentor.

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