How They Apply to Life, Business, and Success
How do humans think? That is a question that has puzzled philosophers and scientists for centuries. Philosophy has had its fair share of theories and assumptions, and science has also provided some concepts and theories that are backed by scientific evidence. Yet, for all our advancements and the massive intellects of philosophers like Plato and Socrates, we don’t really know how humans think, or rather what triggers certain thoughts. We know of the reasons contributing to those like upbringing, society, authority, and a ton of other factors. But no scientist can tell you why you like broccoli, and your father hates it or why a certain musical style pleases you and is hated by everyone else around you.
Still, exploring what we know so far is important, in terms of thinking styles and how we perceive certain things, rather than dwelling on the source of those thoughts. We’re going to explore some thinking styles and how they affect and apply to your life, whether that is personal or professional. Read on!
You’ve probably heard this term hundreds of times already, but what exactly does it mean, and why is it important? You can write books on critical thinking, and plenty has, but let’s simplify things down to their core meaning. It simply means considering a problem from all possible angles, putting aside your personal biases and opinions, and only analyzing the facts so you can reach a judgment or make a decision. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Well, it isn’t.
No matter how rational and fair we think ourselves to be, we still have our biases and preferences, and there’s nothing wrong with that. To have biases and opinions is to be human. The trick, though, is to not let such biases and preconceived notions affect or impair your judgment, which is why you need critical thinking. It teaches you to put aside your personal feelings and focus only on the facts, so you could come to a reasonable and unbiased conclusion.
So, why exactly is it crucial in life? If more people practiced critical thinking, most problems you see on a daily basis wouldn’t exist. If a radical person stopped for a moment and considered their logic from different angles, they would come to the realization that maybe they are not right. Maybe my point of view on religion or society isn’t the only valid one. Perhaps we can coexist, despite bearing differences in ideologies. They’ll understand that different people aren’t necessarily bad; they’re just different. This is why you need to leverage this kind of thinking in your life. It will help you accept people and opposing ideologies and see them for what they really are –– personal viewpoints, not an attack on your viewpoint or yourself.
More importantly, leveraging critical thinking is critical for business. You learn to put your ego aside and accept that other viewpoints are valid. Maybe that idea your colleague or subordinate suggested was actually better than yours, which means it’s better for business –– and in turn, better for you. Most problems that happen in the workplace are because people don’t stop to think about their actions and words critically. If they did, no problem would be too complicated because you would teach yourself to view it from different angles, and one of them has to offer the answer.
This is another thinking style that you need to get acquainted with. Holistic thinking means thinking of the bigger picture and trying to find larger patterns that connect things together. You will find that holistic thinkers try to sense larger forces at play, so they can identify those forces and react to them. This gives them a broader look at things and helps them find answers that are more inclusive and essential for long-term consequences.
One of the most important features of holistic thinkers is the fact that they try to look beyond the apparent. They use their intuition and gut to try and find the purpose behind actions and words, and they take values into consideration before coming to a decision. This helps them figure out more applicable modifications to a situation because they have intimate knowledge of not only the parts but also how each part functions in its role in the overall scheme and how it connects to other parts. This is why holistic thinking is the foundation on which business design constructs are built.
On a personal level, in life, being a holistic thinker is crucial because it will help you be more tactful and considerate. If a person does you wrong, you will think of the motivation and the reasons behind their actions, and you will be grateful because you consider more than just the consequences of their actions.
Why are artists the way they are? Why do some people always seem to have an answer to every problem, and they rarely stumble upon any roadblocks like the rest of us do? Where do all those new ideas come from, and how do those people generate them regularly? The answer is simple; those people are always making use of creative thinking. They look at problems from new angles, and they make it their business to find and create those new angles so they can think about problems differently and see them in a new light. The good news is, you don’t need to be an artist to benefit from creative thinking because anyone can do it.
So, how can you practice creative thinking? Just train yourself to brainstorm. No, you don’t need other people to brainstorm; you can do it by yourself. Pick up a whiteboard and start bouncing different ideas off the board; talk loudly and mention the different ideas and your takes on the pros/cons of each. Sometimes, creative thinking will lead you to the conclusion that a particular problem doesn’t even require a solution. This is why creative thinking is important in life and business. You will be able to generate new ideas on a regular basis, and you will find answers where you least expected to.
When you leverage creative thinking, you force yourself to look beyond the obvious and look for new approaches and techniques to help your professional life. More importantly, creative thinking will significantly help you on a personal level as you will discover new skills and unlock your potential. Who knows, maybe you have it in you to be a great painter or musician, but you won’t know unless you try.
Concrete Thinking vs. Abstract Thinking
Abstract thinking is what the name implies. It is looking beyond concrete details in the physical world and seeking a deeper meaning of things. Abstract thinkers consider things that are not actually present, and they are more interested in ideas rather than secondary details. This is the exact opposite of concrete thinking, where you focus on what’s present now. Concrete thinkers are interested in what they can see and touch –– the tangible. They are more detail- and plan-oriented, and they value the system and discipline that come with that. In other words, they don’t really care about what’s between the lines, unlike abstract thinkers who specifically look for those fine details and their influence on the bigger picture.
On the one hand, abstract thinking is great because it evokes curiosity in you. It makes you want to know how and why those things happened, rather than just settle for the fact that they did happen. Abstract thinkers also like to delve into more complicated matters and explore deeper meanings in science, philosophy, and the arts, which require this type of thinking and being able to see beyond the obvious and look for hidden meanings.
On the other hand, concrete thinkers are more practical, and they care about getting things done rather than dwelling on meanings. This is important in both business and life because, sometimes, the hidden meaning doesn’t add anything, and trying to find it will only serve to stall you and divert your attention from the real problem at hand. If your car is out of gas, you need to refill it. This is not really the time to think about capitalism and our need for those machines in our daily lives, and the current situation in the Gulf that is affecting oil prices. You just need to go to the nearest gas station for a refill.
In short, both thinking types are important. One is creativity inducing and can help you discover new meanings. The other is all about results, which are sometimes essential. So, try to leverage both in your life for the best results.
These different thinking styles aren’t exclusive to certain people or situations, and you probably already practice some of them. And you do need to leverage these thinking styles to achieve success in life and pursue your goals. Success itself is a very abstract notion, and it is a subjective one, too. For some people, success may be having a million dollars. For others, it might be having a family and a small cottage in the countryside. At the end of the day, how you think about life affects your decisions and the choices you will make. So, learn and understand these thinking techniques and make the most of them whenever possible.