“Think over these things I am saying [understand them and grasp their application], for the Lord will grant you full insight and understanding in everything.” —2 Timothy 2:7 AMP
Nobel Prize-winning physicist Albert Einstein, one of the best thinkers who ever lived, asserted, “Thinking is hard work; that’s why so few do it.” I assert that not only do so few do it, but they also don’t know how to do it.
My dad, a college professor, and Cal Tech Applied Mathematics Ph.D. always told me that schools teach people what to think but not how to think. The challenge is that sound decision-making, exercising good judgment, and problem-solving require your ability to form an opinion or idea. If you don’t know how to think, you’ll be handicapped; you may make the wrong decision or be unable to solve a problem.
But the good news is that you can learn how to think. God created you in his image. He’s given you the capacity to reason, evaluate words, and assess the truth. I believe there are four essential thinking skills or mental processes needed to become a successful leader:
- Analytical: Using comprehensive data, you can break down the complex into the simple, detect patterns, and develop insights.
- Critical: You can carefully evaluate information, determine what’s relevant, and interpret data when making decisions.
- Creative: You can consider problems or issues in a new way and generate ideas. You can also offer a fresh perspective with unconventional solutions through brainstorming.
- Strategic: You can leverage unique insights in a changing environment. You can synthesize information, consider opportunities and threats, and imagine a future direction. This leads to a clear set of goals, plans, or new ideas required to survive or thrive in a competitive setting.
How do you develop superior thinking skills?
Take a class, volunteer for a special project, engage a subject matter expert, read books, or play games. Have a learning mindset. Stretch yourself.
Your role as a leader is to think, but it is the Lord who grants you understanding. He will give you the ability to perceive the nature and meaning of problems to be solved, issues to be handled, or decisions to be made. He’ll illuminate your thinking and shine a bright light on events. If you do the hard work of thinking and seeking God’s insight, you’ll be on the road to making sound decisions, developing good judgment, and solving problems.
How to self-evaluate your thinking skills
- Rate yourself from 1 to 10 (1 = deficient, 10 = mastery) on each of the thinking skills: analytical, critical, creative, and strategic.
- Which is the lowest?
- How will you improve your ability?
- Which is the highest?
- How will you strengthen the skill?
- How will improving or enhancing the skills benefit you?
- When will you start?
If you do the hard work of thinking and seeking God’s insight, you’ll be on the road to making sound decisions, developing good judgment, and solving problems.
Want to learn more? Visit http://www.prestonpoore.com
 John C. Maxwell, Thinking for a Change: 11 Ways Highly Successful People Approach Life and Work (Center Street, 2005).> Read More
We can often trace the most significant challenges in our life to just a couple of wrong decisions. Effective decisions require clear thinking and accurate perceptions of the situation and how the world works. It’s easy to allow mental errors to lead to making the wrong choice.
It’s not always easy to make a wise decision, but there are things we can do to increase our odds.
Consider these mental errors that can degrade your ability to make a wise decision:
- Failing to consider the long-term implications. Short-term thinking can lead to long-term challenges. Many of us focus more on the short-term than the long-term when making decisions. We choose the yummiest food to eat or the most enjoyable way to spend the next hour.
- In most cases, we are better served by considering the long-term implications of our decisions.
- Survivorship bias. We often look at the most successful people as a template for success. We assume their way is the best. However, this fails to consider all the people that follow the same strategy but fail.
- For example, many successful people failed to graduate from high school, but it would be wrong to assume that education isn’t helpful to success.
- Many people have put in the same time and effort as LeBron James or Michael Jordan but failed to become professional basketball players. Perhaps there are other reasons for their success that you haven’t considered. A different approach might work better for you.
- Some of the most successful people in our society have been successful despite their process. It’s not always easy to identify when this occurs.
- Overemphasizing loss versus gain. Humans are naturally more sensitive to losing something they already have than motivated to gain the same item. For example, most of us are more bothered by the prospect of losing $100 than we are motivated to earn $100.
- This frequently happens in new businesses. A brand-new business is highly motivated to grow. However, once it reaches a specific size, the owner begins to worry more about protecting what the business has gained than developing further.
- Confirmation bias. We have a natural tendency to interpret facts and situations in a way that supports our current beliefs. For example, highly religious people tend to interpret all good fortune as proof of the presence of God.
- Those that believe that hard work is all that matters will ignore any other factors that contribute to success. They will also ignore the concepts of luck, talent, and mentorship.
- How are your current beliefs tainting your interpretation of your life and your environment?
- Fatigue, stress, and other forms of discomfort. You’ve probably made more than your fair share of ineffective decisions while being tired, overstressed, or physically or psychologically uncomfortable. Discomfort of any kind can negatively affect the decision-making process.
- Personalization. Sometimes, we take things too personally. We might believe that we didn’t get a promotion because the boss didn’t like us. But sometimes people make decisions that have nothing to do with us.
- Everyone has things going on in their life that we don’t know about. It’s a mistake to assume that everything is about you.
Fewer unwise decisions result in greater success and happiness. We create many of the challenges we face in life by making wrong decisions. Try to remove as many bad decisions from your future by understanding what leads to faulty decision-making. Make significant decisions and enjoy a great future!
Advice to Young Professional: Learning to make sound decisions is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make.
Do you want to quickly advance in your career? Make better decisions.
Learn how from my real-life experience and practical tools in the daily devotional, 21 Days to Sound Decision Making – How to Grow Your Credibility and Influence Through Making Better Decisions
- Click here to learn more: https://prestonpoore.com/21-days/
- Download the eBook on Amazon now: https://tinyurl.com/y4pdf6mj
It may be one of the most important decisions you ever make.
Thanks and take care,
Preston Poore> Read More
I’m a disciple of Christ and an executive at a Fortune 500 Company. In my blog, The Discipled Leader, I draw on my diverse business experience to help Christians connect their secular and spiritual lives at work.
As a certified coach, speaker, and trainer with the John Maxwell Team, I help others grow their relationship with Christ, develop their leadership skills, and understand how they can make a positive difference in today’s chaotic world.
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