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So, You Think You Can Think!

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So, You Think You Can Think!

In this article, Wolfgang Hammes emphasizes the benefits of actively directing your thoughts instead of passively thinking. 

Those seeking success need to understand the difference between thinking as a regular activity and thinking as a skill. This applies to both individuals and companies. The latter often fail to understand the difference. Therefore, they lose a lot of money along the way in terms of

  • Lower Productivity
  • Poor decision making
  • Passiveness of employees
  • Low level of entrepreneurship and innovativeness.

Thinking as an activity can be defined as “the activity of using your mind to consider something.” (Cambridge Dictionary). In plain English, this means just any form of brain activity that leads to thoughts, emotions, or ideas. When you go to a fast food restaurant and read the menu, you think. And you do so as an activity, that (in this case) your thinking does not create any value. In fact, your health is probably going to suffer from your decision unless you order the healthy food options on the menu. This is thinking as an activity or undirected thinking.

Undirected thinking often falls victim to the deficiencies of our brain such as:

  • Biases
  • Manipulation through sophisticated messages from our environment (e.g., advertising)
  • Evolutionary automatisms that often do not create any value anymore (e.g., the Fight, Flight, Freeze response in high stress situations).

This is one form of thinking that is typically the default mode of most people. However, you can change this and create more value in life once you start directing your thinking. This requires a good knowledge of many important concepts from neuroscience, psychology, philosophy, and sociology.

Critical thinking for example is one way to move to directed thinking. In my book Success through Critical Thinking I describe how critical thinking lets you exit the “I Guess World” of decision making and move to the “I Know World.” Such a move, which is based on the move from undirected to directed thinking, will most likely lead to much more success in life. And this holds true for both individuals and companies that implement specific training programs.

Over the past several years I took many neuroscience classes. I wished I did so many years earlier. I also wonder why so few companies use these insights for making their organizations more productive, more innovative, and more fun. There is probably some form of translation issue. Neuroscientists do not understand how companies are run and managers who know how companies are run do not understand neuroscience. I encountered the same problem when studying philosophy and sociology. There are so many powerful philosophical and sociological concepts that could address problems like burnout, high employee turnover, low innovativeness, low productivity, and lack of team work. However, there is a translator missing and therefore companies lose plenty of money day by day.

 Key points include:

  • Overriding evolutionary programming
  • Resisting biases
  • Success through critical thinking

Read the article, Direct Your Thinking Or Your Thinking Directs You, on LinkedIn.