The photo features a black business woman wearing a white suit. She is smiling at the camera, her hair is styled in cornrows pulled away from her face and her arms are intertwined and folded on across her body. The text reads, episode 30, How Women IT Executives Master Optimism with the 24x3 Rule,

How many times has someone approached you with an idea they have or action they’re planning to take and you already have your response “no, that’s not going to work” locked and loaded?

You’ve been around a block a few times and have tons of experience. You also know a thing or two about being efficient and don’t like to see people waste time on efforts you believe are not worthwhile.

All of this makes your reflexive response understandable.

But, have you ever considered that most of the lessons you’ve learned resulted from you not having a perfectly executed plan or idea.

There are times when your inner critic, which is vital for making informed decisions, can morph into cynicism or dismissiveness towards new ideas.

About ten years ago, I came across an enlightening article in the Harvard Business Review about practicing optimism. I’ll include a link to it in the show notes.

It introduced the ’24×3 rule,’ a simple yet transformative approach to nurturing a positive mindset.

If you’re not familiar with this approach, then keep listening. We’ll talk about how this practice can reduce your impulse to respond negatively and ground you in optimism.

Find the full transcript and other resources for women leaders at:

Women IT Leaders Can Transform Leadership When They Embrace the 24×3 Rule

You’ve experienced your fair share of strategy sessions, and pivotal decision-making moments. You most probably pride yourself on not being easily shaken and think you‘ve seen it all.

As a leader, it’s important to remain open to ideas and lead with optimism. Think back to a time when you had an idea that was immediately shot down or criticized by someone you respected without them even having considered it for a moment.

Do you remember how you felt when that happened? I’m sure it wasn’t a positive experience for you.

The 24×3 rule puts distance between hearing an idea and reacting to it.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Initially, when a new idea is presented to you, take a deliberate pause for 24 seconds before forming any negative conclusions. This short but significant span of time is crucial as it allows you to fully process the information at hand, rather than responding on impulse. This pause is a valuable opportunity to start evaluating the idea calmly and without bias.

  2. If you successfully accomplish this first step, challenge yourself further by extending the waiting period to 24 minutes. During this time, you‘re providing yourself ample space to deeply contemplate the potential and practicality of the idea.

    It’s an opportunity to think about how the idea could be beneficial, how it might be implemented effectively, and the various outcomes it could lead to.

  3. Should you manage to keep your critical thoughts at bay for these 24 minutes, then strive to reach what can be considered the pinnacle of this exercise – a full 24-hour period.

    Yes, commit to an entire day where you refrain from expressing any negative criticism. This extended period allows for a comprehensive reflection on the idea, considering it from various angles and perspectives. It also provides time for the idea to resonate with you, enabling a more holistic and well-rounded evaluation.

By following these steps, you can cultivate a more thoughtful, open-minded approach to new ideas. This will lead to a more constructive and creative environment, both for yourself and those around you.

Real-Time Reflection Over Reaction Can Revolutionize Your Leadership Approach

I’m sure your thinking, ‘how does this apply in real-time business scenarios?’ I’ve been there, questioning the practicality of this rule. Let me share a personal experience.

A few years back, during a meeting, one of my team members proposed what initially seemed like an outlandish strategy. My inner critic almost dismissed it immediately.

But remembering the 24×3 rule, I held back. Over the next 24 hours, that idea matured in my mind. It wasn’t perfect, but with a bit of massaging it turned out to be an innovative and effective strategy.

This experience was a game-changer for me. It taught me the power of reflection over reaction.

Women Executives Can be Empowered to Cultivate Optimism and Innovation

As a leader, your words and reactions carry weight. They can either shut down creativity or foster an environment where innovation flourishes.

The 24×3 rule is not just about delaying negative feedback — it’s about training your mind to seek possibilities.

You can also coach your teams and mentees to adopt this behavior which will foster a culture where thoughtful consideration is valued over quick judgement.

Encourage them to exercise their optimism muscles. When they come to you with ideas, instead of giving them immediate feedback, let them marinate in the possibilities.

The world of business is ever-evolving, and as a women executive, you have the power to steer it towards a more optimistic and innovative future.

Open your mind to the possibility of practicing the 24×3 rule, not just as a strategy but as a philosophy. You can create a culture where every voice is heard, every idea is pondered, and optimism is the default.

Thank you for listening today. I hope you found this podcast useful. Please connect with me on LinkedIn and let me know that you’re listening. Also, feel free to send me a direct message if there’s a topic you would like me to explore on this podcast.

Remember, you’re the solution to claiming what’s important to you!

Link: Harvard Business Review