Entrepreneurial Tit-bits: Monitor, Understand and Control Your Internal Discourse

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The psychologists tell us that our thinking determine our feelings and our feelings bear on our actions and our actions, we all know that one, determine the results we achieve. To help us toward achieving our preferred results, we therefore need to monitor, understand and control our thinking. Unknown to many of us, however, it is not so much in our ‘slow thinking’, such as solving some complex deferential equations that the challenge is, it is in understanding our ‘fast thinking’, that the trick lies. If we are not careful, our ‘fast thinking’ easily becomes ‘no thinking at all’! An integral component of our fast thinking is our ‘internal discourse’.

Our internal discourse is a sort of information gathering, processing and decision making commentary that is continuously going on in our minds. Every waking moment, our minds is busy processing so much information and even setting life policies and making decisions. Without becoming aware of the dialogue taking place in us, we can adopt these ‘policies’ unwittingly which will determine which actions we take and therefore the results we achieve. To avoid setting and adopting poor policies that will hurt us, we need to be more deliberate by being alert to what is going on in our heads. It is like a discussion by various ‘parties’ in our heads, with each party arguing for or against one issue or another. You have to ‘intervene’, reigning in the extremists, educating the gullible, bringing out facts to the naive, encouraging the timid, cautioning the callous, and so on. That way you can control everything going on in your mind and ensuring that you remain focused on what is right and good irrespective of, sometimes, the way you feel or what is happening around you.

How can we try to master our internal discourse?

Be aware that it exists and it is happening: Unless we are even aware that internal discourse is happening inside our heads, we can hardly do anything about. After becoming aware, the next thing is to be able to ‘catch’ yourself when it is happening! It is like’: ‘Oh, I got ya there. Simply because he said something bad about you shouldn’t be a basis for you to plan evil against him. Instead, you be nice. Buy him a gift of perfume when next you travel…‘ You have to arrest the thought as it is happening and justify what is wrong or right about it to eliminate or entrench it, respectively.

Understand your nature: We all have our true selves that can easily be covered by the noise, misinformation and pressures from outsides. We have to deliberately identify that core and ensure that it is continuously kept clean by intelligent presentation of facts and sometimes simple moral suasion. Otherwise, what happens is that we end up living a life that is completely in-congruent with our true selves. This is no recipe for success but more of disaster in the long run. A simple example is of a teenager who has no liking for and understanding of biology and chemistry but deciding to pursue a degree in Medicine in the university because their best friend, excellent in those subjects, wants to be a doctor. Or, a highly skillful marketer who is in their element being out of the office and meeting customers and making deals deciding to take up an desk-bound opening in the accounts department of their employ because the salary will be higher.

Think positively and be grateful: For many people, the internal default is to be defensive on issues. This can be quite a negative challenge with equally likely negative consequences unless it is deliberately the right thing to do. Thinking positively, meaning well to yourself and others, helps you check the likely excesses that may arise from the negativity generated from your internal discourse. Just think how South Africa would have turned out if Nelson Mandela, after getting freed from prison, had decided to go for revenge. Most of the black population would have, most likely, supported him and the overall outcome would have been something different. Most likely for the worse for everyone.

Learn from the past, live in the present, look positively into the future: The past helps provide experience but it should not be the entire basis on which we make decisions. We have to understand current changes, be optimistic and give ourselves and others benefit of the doubt.

Practice! Learning to pick up your internal dialogue and channeling it in the right direction takes time and practice. You have to make deliberate effort to learn and perfect the routine. With time and regular practice it comes fully under your control and you will be amazed that a lot of what should ordinarily be taken into ‘slow thinking’ becomes part of your ‘fast thinking’, with equally desirable results.

Exercise and take time off: Regular physical exercises and taking time off from our hustles have a way of strengthening and refreshing our body and minds. They help sharpen us and keep us alert to ourselves and our environment.

Build your knowledge and integrity: Most of the above will not happen unless you continously build on your education and be a person of integrity. That will make you truthful to yourself and others as well as make decisions on the basis of sound knowledge.


Unless we deliberately make effort to make our internal discourse constructive, the natural tendency, for most of us, is to for the default setting to go for the convenient rather than the right or the easy rather than the optimum. As an entrepreneur, you need to be fully in charge of your internal discourse to stand a good chance of succeeding. This is one of the traits of highly successful people, discussed in my book, SAIL YOUR BOAT – Success is a Lifestyle and a Journey.


Feature photo credit: Robert Wiedemann on Unsplash


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