Posts Tagged ‘critical thinking

31
Mar
15

x marks the spot

Why do so many people try to hold us back from moving forward in our lives? Didn’t we all learn early in life that we should celebrate the successes of others and strive to emulate them? According to Theory Y believers everyone wants to live a life of purpose and reach their greater levels of joy, peace, energy, and prosperity. Yet how can they possibly do that if their every waking moment is spent obstructing, impeding, slowing, slandering, or demotivating others? Their cup of hostility and insecurity runneth over and they work to slather and sling it on as many as people possible.

Chuck Reeves, author of Journal of a Climberhaters, stated, “Successful people do not resent successful people. Unsuccessful people do.” Boom! There it is. In today’s technologically superior yet higher-order-thinking deficient society, we are obsessed by spewing out judgments and pious pontifications. It’s always been there since the dawn of mankind, but the sheer volume and saturation of it in today’s world does not bode well for the up and coming would be leaders. By disparaging when we should be debating and turning teachable moments into bloody massacres, we are encouraging people to kill rather than to query.

We’re so busy hating the oppressor du jour that we forget life’s what we make it. Who cares who gets the credit? Miserable, thumb-sucking, complaining, griping boneheads, that’s who. As Zig Ziglar said, “You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.” So why is it so hard to see that, ipso facto, the opposite is true? “You will get nothing you want in life if you impede other people getting what they want.” Of noticeable absence is the presence of any higher-order thinking skills. Resentment, jealousy, envy; whatever you call it it’s one of the seven deadly sins. Yet somehow we feed ourselves a steady diet of it in today’s society.

Thus proveth the Theory X that people are lazy, cynical and would rather complain than attain. What to do about it? Model a more proactive approach. In all your communications, be proclamatory, not accusatory. Be an extorter, not a retorter; and finally, be a relater, not a hater. I worry about those whose existence is spent seething at the successes of others. Successful people should always inspire us to greater heights, and if that is not the response you have in your heart when others tell you of their good fortune, you might want to take a tough, long look at what’s going on inside of you. There is no suck in success!

16
Apr
14

We all have a brain, but do we have the mind to use it?

83238_f520We may tout ourselves as the most technologically advanced, sentient beings in the history of mankind, but do we really use our minds when it comes to researching facts, formulating opinions, or even challenging our own previously held convictions?  In the modern world, opinions trump facts, disagreeing or debating has been ditched for demonizing, and civil discourse has become very uncivil indeed.  Ignoble ignoramuses repeat their talking points ad nauseum, to hell with the facts or consideration of someone else’s personal, religious, or even cultural convictions.

 

And because we believe that modern man is so technologically brilliant, we allow anything from any source to infiltrate our brains, without so much as a moment of pause for consideration. If we read it or hear it, we blindly support it, deny it, or obsessively regurgitate it. Facts used to mean something; not anymore. Anyone anywhere can create a platform to blast out their views regardless of the truth or the author’s motives. Words attached to a graphic meme have now become the gospel, and celebrities have replaced subject-matter experts. Swiping an electronic screen has replaced diligent research and trolling/name calling has replaced debating your point. Actions are represented either positively or negatively depending upon the reporter’s personal views. We are no longer a planet of independent thinkers but rather drones who are told—and who accept—who is right and who is wrong.

 

Remember when you were growing up and you were told not to believe everything you read or hear, and never to assume because it makes an ASS out of U and ME? Critical, pragmatic, and contrarian thinking has gone the way of the dinosaur. I am mortified by the things that are posted on social media or blogs and then endorsed by people who assume they are true simply because they saw them somewhere. Trust, but verify has been replaced by Trust, then vilify. After all, if I am offended by a viewpoint that does not align with my own regurgitation, it must be condemned!

 

The Foundation for Critical Thinking defines critical thinking as “…actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication…” The key words here are right at the very beginning: actively and skillfully. This implies that we make a conscious effort to understand and evaluate, and that we practice it habitually; but instead of honing our discernment, too many of us have settled for spoon-feeding. How can we all be better critical thinkers and begin to stem the tide of intellectual apathy?

  1. Consider the source: Are you reading the Washington Times or the National Enquirer? Where do the stories that get passed around on the Internet come from? Why is an expert qualified to speak in his or her area of expertise? It’s imperative to think carefully about the source of your information. If there is no basis for credibility, ignore it. We hear a lot about the difficulty of finding unbiased news. The truth of the matter is that it’s very difficult to report the news in a completely unbiased fashion. That’s where critical thinking comes in.
  2. Think about the issue: Never believe a word you hear or read without doing your homework. We can defeat the repetition of falsehoods by gathering information from several sources, thinking about it from a multitude of angles, and synthesizing it into a unified whole. Hopefully, you’ve surrounded yourself with people whom you consider to be smart and rational, the ones who can distill the hype down to the real meat of the issue. Ask them to synthesize the points being discussed as an objective frame of reference. And then carefully take a look at them to see if they make sense to you!
  3. Draw Your Conclusions: It may seem like it goes without saying, but we really do need to put all of the pieces together and form a conclusion about the topic at hand. Too many of us allow our threads of thought to trail off without tying them up. Discipline yourself to form cohesive and well-thought-out conclusions about the important topics of the day based upon careful gathering and analysis of credible sources of information. And never forget that your conclusion must be congruent with your core set of values and convictions, otherwise you’ll be a double-minded man, unsteady in all his ways, and speaking out of both sides of his mouth.

 

All of which leads us to the simple but profound question: What do you think? If you rigorously follow these guidelines you’ll be surprised at how rapidly you will improve your understanding of important issues, along with your ability to really discuss them—not just state your position—spontaneously and with authority. And remember, once you rise to a higher level of thinking, you will definitely stand out from the masses. This can make you a target for imbeciles. Don’t indulge them in arguments. As the good book says, When arguing with fools, don’t answer their foolish arguments, or you will become as foolish as they are. (Proverbs 26:4)Think critically! Each of us has a brain; we just need the mind to use it.

13
Dec
12

Deconstructing the Bull

PicassoBullI recently attended a board meeting where the members discussed whether or not the organization should purchase a building. The overwhelming majority of the room was in favor of the acquisition based on the simple fact that “all the pieces had fallen into place” so how could this not be the desired course of action?

Now I’ll admit that I’m more analytical than your average bear, but I also trust my heart and instinct as well. However, the line of reasoning the group used had some glaring errors. There is a spirit of truth; there is also a spirit of error. There is a spirit of light and a spirit of dark. Just because something looks good and attractive doesn’t mean you should go there. The simple fact that a building is available at a good price does not mean that a purchase is automatically a wise decision. As they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

It seems the ability to think with a discerning mind is almost a lost gift among leaders these days, which may explain why people in positions of power make such awful decisions. They are not looking past the present moment. They want “it” bad and that’s how they get it. We all face things that seem like possible paths or options in our lives, be it in our personal, professional, financial, or spiritual lives.

In 1945 – 1946 Pablo Picasso produced a powerful series of eleven drawings collectively titled Bull. When viewed in sequence, each drawing is a simplification of the previous one, moving from the realistic to the abstract. You can see how he worked away at the complex image bit by bit reducing it to a single fluid line that still posses all the power of the bull itself. His single line drawings are simple yet powerful as they create so much using a single unbroken line.

Picasso got down to the essence of the animal, the true reality of what defined it. We should all be so able to pare down the noise in our daily lives and decisions. My father always told me, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” I used to laugh at this when I was younger but as the years went by, I discovered that this was absolutely critical to my life. Debby Boone has a line in a song, “It can’t be wrong, when it feels so right.” Nothing could be further from the truth.

Do you run from person to person seeking fulfillment? Do you allow other opportunities at work to derail you from the real work at hand because it just seems too good to be true? There are many great deceivers out there that convey a counterfeit message. They have their mission; the true test of leadership is determining if it is compatible with yours. Saying no out of fear is cowardice; saying no out of discernment is truly brilliant leadership. Can you deconstruct the bull?




Tremendous Tracey


CEO Tremendous Life Books. Book Evangelist

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