What’s Feeding Your Thoughts? Do you look at the news, read books or magazines that stretch your thinking? To be a Critical Thinker you need to develop the insatiable appetite of reading things, not on the surface level, but instead for the thread lines of connectivity with other things you know.
For example, I recently read Jeffrey Gitomer’s article on his experience throwing out the baseball at the Wizards game. Through out the article he relates baseball to sales. Great article and I could have taken it in solely at the level it was offered.
Instead I tied the article and pieces of it to the process of Critical Thinking. Particularly this quote by Doug Dascenzo, the Wizards manager, “They think because they’ve done something once or twice that they can go to the next thing. That’s wrong thinking. There is no “fast” way into the big leagues. Great players have to execute excellently and improve slowly for years, if they want to play in the big leagues. Most of these kids have played baseball all their lives and still don’t know enough to play major league ball. Add to that the personality trait of ‘no patience’ and you have a team of potentially frustrated people.”
That quote got me thinking about two things: 1) the problem companies have in understanding why a high performing person they promoted is suddenly failing in their new position and 2) companies constantly wanting ‘instant’ training for their executives-like can you take a two day program and do it in 2 hours? They feel that since these people are executives they are “bright” enough to catch on faster.
Let’s examine the first problem- promoting people only to find they fail. I find that companies constantly promote leaders based on their performance and then are stymied when that person doesn’t succeed in the new position. They wonder, why?
Well, the simple reason is that the skills and abilities that make you excel at one job don’t necessarily translate to the job above you. Just like the kid that can play baseball all their life but still not understand the “mental” game of big league baseball.
The second problem of timing is answered in the quote when he talks about how there is no fast way in to the big leagues. Instead it is about executing excellently and improving slowly for years. Developing Critical Thinking skills is the same way. It is not a one day course and suddenly your brain is constructed differently. Rather it is a consistent practice of stretching the brain in new ways until it is able to rely less on knowledge and experience and instead be able to take complex information and chew on it in a whole new way. This requires dedication and access to CONSISTENT learning that thread lines all this together to create a sustainable and scalable way of thinking for leaders.