Leading Edge: Limitless Transformation – Overthinking

Limitless Transformation from Aegis Learning and Tim Schneider

Never play Uno or Yahtzee with an overthinker.

This is the most common of the limiting and defeating behaviors and is most often responsible for missed opportunities in every segment of life.

Just a day ago, I fretted endlessly about asking a friend to coffee. What if she says no? What if she misreads my intention? What if she doesn’t like coffee? Wasted a good 45 minutes of my life overthinking something with no risk. We’re having coffee this coming Thursday. Similarly, I have offered a great little business opportunity to three of the Aegis Learning team members early this week. After two days, none of them have responded to this nominal risk and high-return potential chance.

Overthinking is the dwelling on and, often returning to thinking about the same thing. It is also a playing of “what ifs” that are focused on negative consequences and rarely about the positive potential of a situation or stimuli. Overthinkers will also devote undue amounts of time thinking about small and inconsequential issues and do not differentiate between a big thing and a little thing. To them all issues are worthy of the same degree of thought and analysis.

When unchecked and not managed, overthinking can lead to significant paralysis in action and loss of opportunity. In leadership and entrepreneurial roles this can be devastating. An overthinking leader or manager will drive his or her team absolutely nuts by sitting on the most fundamental and straightforward decisions. To anyone who leads, you must remind yourself that delay caused by overthinking risks your credibility as the sand falls from the hourglass. Each grain of sand is your leadership credibility falling away with your delay.

Overthinkers will also tend to over-gather information and data about a particular issue or subject. Way more data than is reasonably needed and many times, that data gathering creates more “what ifs” and is truly not helpful.

The classic overthinker also processes thoughts about timing. They will look for and seek the “perfect” time. That time does not exist, and it will never exist. The result of this delay will be lost opportunity. Overthinkers will also avoid seeking out their needs such as asking for a raise, requesting consideration for a promotion, or asking someone out for a social occasion.

As a behavior, overthinking can be caused by risk avoidance, anxiety, and even depression. In a working environment, it can also be caused by a lack of feedback for good decisions combined with hyper-scrutiny when an error occurred.

The evil twin of overthinking is underthinking. Underthinking is the process of committing no thought to an issue or stimulus and making a rash and arbitrary decision. This is also not a desired outcome as all decisions, with the exceptions of using the restroom, trying the ice cream, and stopping at the red light should have some thought. If you are an overthinker, underthinking is not your target.

Overthinkers should always examine some driving attitudes as well as attacking the behavior itself. It is highly likely that several of the attitudes and beliefs in Section 3 will resonate with the classic overthinkers and need to have some time an attention.

Leading Edge: Limitless Transformation – Frequency and Encouragement

Limitless Transformation from Aegis Learning and Tim Schneider

Frequency and Intensity

Now before anyone goes sprinting towards the cliff in despair, or at the very least, second guessing all their behaviors and itemizing dozens of things that you must work on, please read this section. Maybe twice.

First, we have all limiting and self-defeating behaviors. All of us.

Secondly, but equally important, is that we will work on these in a programmatic and mostly linear method. We are not going to tackle ten poorly serving behaviors and six negative attitudes at one time. We are going to eat this elephant one bit at a time.

To secure a starting point and craft an action plan, we must gauge the severity and frequency of each. It is highly likely that you will find several limiting and self-defeating behaviors that impact your success and happiness. It is also likely, upon going through the list of them again, you will find many that creep in from time to time.

At the end of each behavior and attitude description is a brief scoring guide that is designed to help you understand the impact that each one has on your life and to triage where to begin to work on improvement. There is also a consolidated grid at the end of this book.

The scoring is simple and straightforward. The two criteria are frequency and estimated impact.


Often – Does the behavior or attitude appear often or daily?

Occasionally – Does the behavior or attitude show up periodically or infrequently?

Never – You never display the behavior or attitude.

This will take some thought and reflection to see the true frequency that you display a particular attitude or behavior. We will often tend to underestimate this, and this is a great area to seek some honest feedback from someone close to us. Their view may vary quite a bit from our own view but is more likely to be accurate than our self-view.

Estimated Impact:

High – The behavior or attitude causes significant loss of opportunity, happiness, and success. You can look back and see how the behavior or attitude has had a big impact on your career, key relationships, or caused you anxiety and unneeded work.

Moderate – The attitude or behavior has caused you loss, but it was not severe. You regret the setback, but it was not significant.

Low – The consequences of the behavior or attitude have had very little impact or effect on you.

Looking at impact forces us to examine the cost of our actions and poorly managed attitudes. This is not particularly pleasant and often will dredge up some painful memory points. This analysis is not designed to send you to regression therapy, but it is important to clearly see the impact of these behaviors and attitudes and use this data to avoid future loss situations.

Impact of One

One of the easy temptations of reviewing self-limiting and self-defeating behaviors and associated beliefs and attitudes is to dismiss them quickly because they don’t happen much.

I had the opportunity to recently talk with a long-term customer and friend about some feedback he received about his facial expressions. He had received some feedback from one of his team members that his facial expression made him unapproachable.

But this was just from one team member out of a large group that he leads. Not significant and easy to dismiss. Not worth even a second thought.

Or is it?

First, for every piece of evidence that you are aware of, there are many more in which you are not aware. Simply meaning that for everyone that brings something to your attention, there are at least two or three more that have noticed it but chosen to not say anything. Maybe because your facial expressions made you appear unapproachable.

And if it impacts one person, is it worth the effort to change or modify the behavior? In all relationships and leadership roles the answer must be yes. If it becomes a potential disconnect with one other person, it will become limiting or defeating to you. The impact on one person is certainly worth a little extra reflection and thought.

Final Opening Thought and Encouragement

As with all human behavior changes, these movements will take time. Some will take a lot of time. Allow that and be gentle on yourself during the journey to changing yourself.

You will have setbacks. You will use some old, self-limiting habits, and you will scold yourself. Be as kind to yourself as you would to anyone else who is actively working on themselves. The setbacks are part of the process and improvement. Learn, try, succeed, fail, succeed again, fail less often. That is the adult human learning cycle.

Leading Edge: Limitless Transformation – The Target

Limitless Transformation from Aegis Learning and Tim Schneider

The Target

Ultimately, what we are targeting and shooting for is for you to be happy. And perhaps happier than you have ever been.

What drives individual happiness is, well, very individual. Some will look for more money. Others will look for promotions or a particular job title. And still others will look towards things like location, jumping into entrepreneurialism, better relationships with others, or being a more admired leader. Maybe a winery is Napa is your thing. Perhaps your dreams center around travel.

The exact target doesn’t matter but what is important is to achieve an improved state or condition. To be better tomorrow than you were today. To have more happiness moving forward without the stress you are currently feeling.

If you were hoping for a formula to create a million dollars in the next 90 days, I’m sorry. It’s not here. Can you create and execute that formula after removing your obstacles and limitations? Absolutely you can.


Our definition of behavior differs slightly from the classical definition. Typically, behavior is defined as how someone acts, especially towards others.

For the context here, a behavior is an outwardly observable action. Something that can be seen or sensed by others.

Some easy examples of behavior include your body language and facial expressions, tone of your voice, fidgeting with your hands, praising others, friendliness, assertiveness, listening abilities, and walking pace. All observable and all actions.

Many of our behaviors are quite useful for us and some can become limiting or defeating. A few behaviors appear to be valuable but are masking a limiting or defeating behavior.

In the short term, behaviors can be very easy to change. If I tell you to smile, you will and probably will for the duration of our interaction. Long term behavioral change will require more work and examination of deeper elements of why the behavior exists.


Behaviors that are done repetitively often become habits. Neuroscientists have described a three-part habit loop that includes a cue or trigger, the routine of repeating a behavior, and then a reward, usually intrinsic, that supports the use of the habit.

We all understand habits related to smoking or drug use, but we rarely associate common verbal responses, when we look at email, what apps we use on our phones, or other work routines as habits. They are and again, some are great, but some can be quite limiting for us.

Habits typically take 18 to 21 repetitions to become habits and likewise, it will take that many repetitions to establish new and more useful habits.

One of our challenges will be to unlearn the automatic responses of habits. Learning the new is relatively easy. Unlearning old habits, especially if they have served you well previously, can be daunting. Not impossible but a challenge. All of this will start with one changed iteration at a time. One step by one step. Much more on that later.

Attitudes and Beliefs

Attitudes and beliefs are complex sets of thoughts that drive our behaviors.

Please read that again.

Our attitudes and beliefs drive our behaviors.

Have you ever received a compliment about your “good attitude” about something? It is very likely you have. Did that person have a deeply mystical connection into your soul to see your attitude or were they evaluating your behaviors at that moment? Conversely, have you ever had someone inquiry to see if you were in a “bad mood” or had a “bad attitude” about something? Again, there is a high likelihood that you have. Were they able to see your attitude aura or were they measuring and assessing your behaviors projected by that attitude? Even an inquiry into if we are feeling okay can give insight into the power that attitudes have on our behavior.

Consider these two examples:

Juan is dreading a meeting. Historically it has been a waste of time and nothing but updates from other departments and lots of longwinded presentations that don’t interest him. He has created an attitude of negative expectation. This attitude affects his body language, tone, and overall engagement during the meeting. He is sitting with a scowl on his face, arms crossed, and does not offer any input or appreciation for the updates. And everyone in the room sees it. His attitude has driven these behaviors.

Sonya is looking forward to the same meeting and the opportunity to hear from her peers. She has always enjoyed knowing more about other areas of the company and how they contribute to her success and the overall success of the company. She has created an attitude of positive expectation and it shows. Her body language is open, she smiles frequently, interjects, and praises the updates. And everyone sees it.

I know this is too simple but be Sonya and not Juan.

Consider a personal example of the relationship between attitude and behavior:

You and your husband are hosting a dinner party and he has invited a friend of his that you just don’t like. You have been thinking about it all day and created an attitude of expectation of a negative outcome. All during the gathering, you are sullen, non-communicative, and look like you would rather be anywhere else.

An attitude is a set, or settled, way of thinking about a person, thing, or situation. It is a set of thoughts chained together to create judgement about someone or something. Often these are rooted in some past experiences, some are passed from person to person and even generationally, and some are based on irrationally bigoted thoughts. By themselves, attitudes can be limiting because they will often minimize the possibility of experience that an individual can have in any given situation or with any person.

Attitudes are generally classified as:

• Positive
A generally upbeat and optimistic view of a person, situation, or even the world. This attitude set will drive confidence, hope, determination, sincerity, empathy, and serve to be magnetic with people. A positive expectation is a great example of a positive attitude. Consistent holding and projection of a positive attitude will draw other people of the same attitude qualities to you.

• Negative
This set of thoughts drives a dim view of situations and people and can be very energy draining. This attitude type will also produce anger, doubt, frustration, and resignation from activities and people. Consistently possessing and projecting a negative attitude will draw others of the same to you and rebuff people with positive attitude qualities.

• Neutral
This is neither a good nor a bad thing and it is also not a victory for us. Neutral is blah. There is no doubt but there is also no hope. Neutral attitudes often drive disconnection and disinterest. Nothing is either good or bad, it just is.

• Sikken
A constant state of negativity combined with aggressiveness. This attitude will produce not only internal negativity but seek to dismantle the positive or neutral attitudes of all others. This attitude state must be avoided at all costs and can certainly produce some highly undesired behaviors.

So, to have a consistent set of positive, healthy, and connecting behaviors, we must always work to produce a positive attitude. Likewise, to maintain a changed behavior, we must manage our attitude that drives that behavioral change. Without that step, the behavior change will be short-lived.

A belief is a high level of trust and faith in something or someone. If you accept something as true now and, in the future, it becomes a belief. Our predictions of outcomes (i.e., “that will be great” or “that is really going to suck”) is a belief. Connect that belief with an attitude and you have a powerful behavioral driver.

One of the most important steps we must take is to openly and assertively acknowledge that past events and interactions do not predict all future events and interactions. Just because someone treated you poorly yesterday does not mean they will treat you poorly today. Without this step, our history drive beliefs will produce a negative attitude that will drive very counterproductive behaviors.

Leading Edge: Limitless Transformation – The Enemy is On Our Shoulders

Limitless Transformation from Aegis Learning and Tim Schneider

The Enemy Resides on Top of Our Shoulders

The enemy to achieving what we truly want and ultimately, our happiness, rests squarely on the top of our shoulders and at the end of our neck.

It will be challenging to combat an enemy that has an outpost between our ears.

Our limitations are self-imposed. Yes, we made them up. Sometimes, they can be evidence based, but most likely, they are the result of our own thoughts that converted to actions and those actions that became habits.

The first challenge will be to identify which of our habits and behaviors and thought patterns serve us well, and we want to keep, and then to actively and intentionally dispose of the ones that are limiting or destructive. This doesn’t sound particularly daunting but many limiting behaviors and beliefs masquerade as being useful. Some have been useful either at a point in time or situationally but the utility of them has long since passed.

Another challenge for us will be to confront our unwillingness to change. Not everyone is highly change resistant but all of us have some resistance to the new and different. That lack of motivation to change is explained and detailed further in the next section.

The Elephant in the Room and 800 Pound Gorilla

Success is a powerful intoxicant. Comfort is even more addictive and stupefying.

When we begin experiencing success, especially in the workplace, we start losing our desire to grow and change. Consider this example:

After 90 days of employment, Emily receives a glowing review for her work. After a full year, she receives another review with near-perfect scores and great comments about her work. This cycle repeats for three years and after that, she is offered a supervisory position because of her great work.

And again, after another couple of years, Emily is offered a management position after receiving great reviews and even bonuses.

Now, at her five-year anniversary, after experiencing unbridled success and being praised for all her work, what is her motivation to change and grow her skills?

And another example:

Susan and Ed have been married for ten years and have two beautiful children. They live in a home that by their parents’ standards would be a mansion. They possess all the creature comforts that any family would ever need. They have savings, retirement money and can travel when and where they choose.

Motivation to change anything? Any desire to do things differently?

In both examples, the drive and desire to change and grow is greatly diminished by the current level of success.

Now consider this:

Todd is struggling at work. He doesn’t think his boss likes him and his last several performance reviews have not been good. A person in human resources openly smirked when he asked about growth and promotional opportunities. He has heard that there may be layoffs and that he may be targeted in that move.

Do you think Todd would be willing to challenge how is has been doing things? Do you think Todd would be open to a change that may facilitate some positive outcomes?

And an example from family life:

Macy and Chris are struggling. Every interaction is tense and there is a heaviness in the home that is easily felt and sensed. The finances of the family are not horrible but certainly could be better. The kids, and even the dogs, know that something is not right. Stupid little things become arguments, there is limited and fragmented communication.

If there were a couple of things that this couple could change, do you think they would jump at the opportunity?

Challenges and failure make us pliable and eager to learn new ways and lose old habits that created this path. Conversely, success often blinds us to some behaviors and attitudes that hold us back and prevent additional success and greater happiness.

That is not to say that you should avoid comfort and not celebrate when you are comfortable or successful, but that should never be the stopping point. Temporary comfort should yield quickly to ongoing growth and challenge. The cycle should look like:

Comfort and Celebration
Comfort and Celebration

And not look like:

Comfort and Celebration
Continuation of Comfort

Blame, Excuses, and Justifications

To get the most from the guidance in this book, and others like it, we must own our behaviors, attitudes, and beliefs. What will not work is blaming, excuse making, denials, or justifications. You will never conquer your self-limiting or self-defeating behaviors if you can’t first acknowledge that they are yours and you created them. Blame is an especially dangerous roll of the roulette wheel.

My friend Kim is the GOAT for behavioral ownership. She has and is going through a lot of things, some of which would buckle a lesser person. But the separation piece with Kim is that she owns each situation that she has and is dealing with currently. No blaming of others, although some of that would certainly be justified, no excuse making, no denying her ownership of the issues, even if it’s minor. She owns her part and is open about it. She is a model of the ability to grow and overcome because she first chose to own her behaviors, attitudes, and beliefs. She thoughtfully and intentionally analyzes her behavior and approach.

Conversely, my ex-wife has not as much as stepped on a sidewalk crack. All her issues, and there are quite a few, are the fault of husband 1, husband 2, husband 3 (that’s me), her bosses, her parents, her children, ad nauseam. The reason she remains stuck and unable to move forward is primarily due to her lack of ownership of any of her behaviors that created or contributed to her issues. To her, each person and relationship is disposable upon the first opportunity to blame. Do you remember the circa 2000 song from Shaggy, “It Wasn’t Me”?

Excuses and justifications have the same impact as blame. When we create an excuse for why we have a particular behavior, we fail to take ownership in that behavior. When we credit one of our attitudes or beliefs for our environment, we are failing to own it. And as a small side note, a justification, no matter how valid in your mind, sounds like an excuse to even the most empathetic listener. So, your behavior is not because of where you work, where you were born, or any societal customs. Your attitudes are not a creation of work volume, stress at home, or your choice of religious affiliation.

In practicum this means that your behavior is not because you were in law enforcement for 20 years. Your attitude is not because you were raised by Depression Era parents. Your beliefs are not because you were a lifelong banker. You chose them and, in some cases, chose to perpetuate them long after their shelf life.

Before you go much farther, take a few moments to reflect on your ownership of behaviors, attitudes, and beliefs and subordinate the desire to blame, justify or make excuses.

Leading Edge: Limitless Transformation – Here We Are

Limitless Transformation from Aegis Learning and Tim Schneider

Here We Are


So here we are.

Not sure where here is and it is different for all of you. Here is just the reference to the current point in time and your current condition.

The purpose of this book is to truly unlock the potential that is you. If you can imagine it, dream it, you can make it happen.

We have limitless ability within us but rarely even scratch the surface of those talents, skills, and aptitudes. Every successful person has confronted limiting beliefs and behaviors at one point, and some do this constantly.

But………………you’re happy, healthy, and have everything you want. What do you need to unlock or unblock for?

Much more on that later but I will pose a few questions for you to ponder:

1. Would you value greater happiness or more consistent happiness in your life?

2. Would you appreciate the ability to continue to achieve your success more easily, with less grinding?

3. Would you like to obtain your dream job or perhaps work for yourself?

4. Would you like to be a better role model for others?

5. Would you like to make the lives of those that work for you more satisfying and enjoyable?

6. Would you like higher quality and more meaningful relationships with others?

If there was a yes to any of those, and more likely a few of them, please keep reading.

The other and more subtle purpose of this book is to cause some pause and reflection.

Like many of you, I saw the movie The Sixth Sense a couple of times and then berated myself for not seeing the signs that the Bruce Willis character was already dead. I did the same thing with oranges and The Godfather. Really disappointed with myself that I didn’t see the obvious signs and clues. Hopefully, I didn’t ruin any movie plots for you.

That type of pause and reflection can be healthy and needed for us. It allows us to look back just a bit and say, “why didn’t I?” This should not be a point that you stay fixated upon, but it should be a great and powerful reminder of the impact of limiting and defeating behaviors and attitudes. We can’t stay in this spot of “what if” but it does remind us of the prices paid for the things that hold us back.

And finally, an additional purpose of this writing is to provide you with a tool for self-coach and self-improvement. Not that sitting with me in your office twice a month, or weekly via a virtual meeting isn’t appealing, but this can help you in the absence of some professional coaching.

To borrow Jim Collins’ phrase for a moment; this is about moving from good to great. From satisfied to happy. From working to achieving.

Credit Where Credit is Due

Dr. Marshall Goldsmith is a legend. An icon. The coaches’ coach.

Goldsmith pioneered the work on self-defeating and limiting behaviors with his wildly successful “What Got You Here Will Not Get You There”. This best seller, that was originally published in 2007, is a foundational work that lays out the case to challenge our self-defeating behaviors and confront our ability to change. We have used his work for decades in coaching and training with our customers.

This book does not pretend to expand on Dr. Goldsmith’s work or to add anything to his book. There will be some commonality with some of the behaviors and even some strategy elements.

I will always recommend that you read “What Got You Here Will Not Get You There”.


I have been truly blessed during my last 30-plus years of work. I have had and continue to have the best seat in the house to observe human behavior, learning, growth, and limiting actions.

My work has allowed me to interact individually with thousands of people, mostly in a leadership role, and tens of thousands more in group sessions. This perspective has allowed me to identify, analyze, document, and work through a broad spectrum of self-defeating and self-limiting behaviors and those beliefs and attitudes that hold people back from what they could truly become.

The people that we have interacted with and worked with come from every demographic imaginable. They are c-suite leaders, line-level blue-collar employees, emerging leaders, experienced managers, administrative professionals, doctors, and lawyers. Every industry has been touched including hospitality, medical, manufacturing, construction, consumer services, and government. The most interesting categorization however is the degrees of traditionally measured success in which we are proud to call our customers. We have worked with name brand companies, billionaires, millionaires, founders, investors, and those who are successful by any measure.

One common thread that all our participants have in common is that they all have at least one, and more likely several, limiting behaviors or beliefs. That’s right, even billionaires have some defeating and limited behaviors. Even the always-happy yoga instructor has a few. The perfect couple has some. And when people can identify and overcome them, they achieve levels of success and happiness they didn’t realize was possible.

Categorizing people is never fair or accurate, but my experience has also allowed me to identify some populations that relate to individual development coaching and training. These themes will reappear later in the book.

There are those that believe that training and coaching is for the broken and rolled out only when issues exist and there must be a “fix” deployed. Although there are some benefits to this, the global or organizational gains are nominal. Often in these types of environments, the leaders prescribe training for everyone else but not themselves.

Then there are those who seek learning and growth when things are going well, and they are either at an upswing in their career and life or sitting at a pinnacle point and want to see if there is more. These are the people and, ultimately, the places that they work, that are truly successful in the long term. They are also the people that find great joy and happiness in the continual challenge of growth.


Limiting behaviors and beliefs are those things that hold us back from being everything that we want to be. They are the obstacles to our true potential and stunt our growth, success, and many times, our happiness.

We all have them. Rich, poor, old, young, end of career, beginning of a career, leader, team member, it doesn’t matter. We all have some of them or many of them. Some are known to us and others are blind spots (known by others but not by ourselves) in our behavior or personality.

When we begin the process of identifying them, gauging, and measuring the impact, and then applying curative actions, we immediately see changes that we desire. As this sounds simple and quick, it is neither. It is easy to understand but much more difficult to fix.

Leading Edge: Happy Independence Day from Aegis Learning

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