Think Tank Thursday: Leadership Lessons from 36,000 Feet Over the Pacific Ocean

You’ve heard the expression “you can’t see the forest for the trees?” As sales and leadership guru Mark Hunter observes, that forest becomes a lot clearer when you’re a few miles high above the ground.

“You’re thinking I’m about to tell you what I experienced on a flight. Well, you’re half right.

It’s not what I experienced going on in the plane; it’s about what I experienced going on in my mind.

When you’re disconnected from our connected world for 12+ hours, it’s amazing what you can accomplish—or if you choose—not accomplish.

You can pass the time by watching movies “edited for airline viewing” or spend hours thinking you’ll finally master Candy Crush. Long flights are a time for me to skip the movies and stupid games and do some deep thinking.

You’re right—maybe “deep” isn’t the word I should be using when 36,000 feet above terra firma.

Here’s what I’ve found. When I take a step back from what’s happening and truly look at the big picture and the long-game, it’s amazing what I see. When I then take those initial ideas and really start to drill down, I’m blown away by what my mind comes up with.

For me the long flights are an amazing experience. Yes, you can say I’m weird, but the long flight is time to think.

Recently, I’ve had multiple long flights with trips to both South America and Asia, and I think I’ve reached a new level of notes taken on my iPad. What’s powerful is when I look at what I come up with on the long flights and what I come up with during a normal “hectic” week, it’s amazing what I discover.

This leaves me to now wonder if one of my bigger challenges is not having regular time to do deep thinking.

I’ve always used Saturday mornings as a time to decompress and review, and I do love that time, but I’m thinking that’s not enough. Somehow, I’ve got to carve out more time on a regular basis to take the ideas floating in my brain and truly build them out.

My suspicion is some of you are thinking the same thing while others are mumbling, “I don’t even have time to breathe, let alone think.”

It doesn’t matter how you feel now, the question is what do you want to feel in one month? How about one year? How about 5 years?

We will never—and yes, I’m including myself when I say “we”—achieve what is possible until we stop to truly think through our ideas today.

What’s your next step to be spending more time thinking? I’m committing myself to create that block of time when I can disconnect and truly think.

Hopefully, I don’t have to resign myself to flying across the Pacific Ocean on a monthly basis to do that.”

Mark Hunter, The Sales Hunter, is author of “High-Profit Selling: Win the Sale Without Compromising on Price.” He is a consultative selling expert committed to helping individuals and companies identify better prospects and close more profitable sales. To get a free weekly sales tip, visit www.TheSalesHunter.com