Are You Thinking about Thinking?

When one recalls all that they have learned in their life about love and hate, friendship, anger and fear, father and mother, city, school, money, or even human nature; it becomes clear that learning is a natural and inevitable process. We learn in many different directions – directly from books or through daily life experiences.

However, “one way in which learning in not natural is self-knowledge. That is, knowing the workings of your own mind, how and why we think the way we do” says Dr. Richard Paul. From the very first day, as a new-born baby, our brains get to work by slowly making sense of all the “inputs”: sounds, smell, touch etc. Its core objective, to make sense of the alien world around it. Thus, it is not natural for our brain to think about itself. It does not contemplate on its own strengths and weaknesses, emotions, or dilemmas.

Test Your Understanding of “Thinking”

Put your brain to the test and see it for yourself. Answer the following questions;

  • What have you learned about how you think? 
  • If I was to ask you to explain me your thinking process, will you be able to?
  • Did you ever study your thinking?
  • How much of your thinking is above-average? How much is below-average? Or simply, where is it?
  • Do you evaluate your thinking against specific standards or just go with what comes to mind naturally?

If you are like most people, your answers would sound something like: “Well, I suppose I don’t know much about my thinking or how to evaluate it. It just happens automatically.”

Exclusive study of thinking is rare in an average person’s life. It is not something taught at home, not critical for human survival, and is not a subject at most schools.

Above all, if there is one thing that is influencing your social, professional, and personal life it is your thinking. Period.

If one is going to live his or her life as a thinker which will influence all aspects his or her life, why not deliberately improve thinking processes and get better at thinking about thinking?

4 comments On Are You Thinking about Thinking?

  • Great post Jawwad.

    I agree that humans don’t quite know the mechanisms behind their strengths and weaknesses. I feel I’m a very creative person and after developing an idea, I’m sometimes asked “how did you do that?” and I don’t really know what to say. It just happens.

    There are tools such as HBDI (a critical test taken by all Queen’s MBAs prior to the program), MBTI, Strengths Finder, etc. that help identify skills and weaknesses, but I think the best learning takes place when you try to apply those skills.

    In doing so, you can see what works and what doesn’t, and if you’re lucky, will receive feedback from others. The most helpful feedback has always been from those who think differently from myself.

    For those unfamiliar with HBDI, a quick and dirty way of explaining the test is that your thinking style is assessed along 4 dimensions, represented by 4 colours:

    red (communication)
    yellow (creative)
    blue (analytical)
    green (organizational)

    I am an extremely high yellow and somewhat high red with very poor blue and green. It’s in working with blue and green people that I’ve been able to produce the best work.

    Know your strengths and weaknesses and partner with those who have complimentary skill sets and the world will see amazing things!

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