Creative thinking, or the objective analysis and evaluation of an
issue in order to form a judgment, is a crucial skill for all leaders, and
business persons. You should not only be able to change your mind when
confronted with new evidence, but rather be actively seeking out opposing
viewpoints. When you deprive yourself of opposing views, you are denying
yourself the information needed to make better decisions. Here are three ways
you can start improving your creative thinking, today.
Think of your most deeply
held opinions, and beliefs, be broad, think of political, social, and personal
opinions you have. Now, why do you believe the way you do? Have you fully researched
these beliefs, or do you hold them simply because “you do”. Be honest, how
likely is it that you hold the “correct” view, on every issue?
This simple exercise should
help you begin to open your mind, to the very likely fact, that there is fallibility
in your current perspectives. Developing this humility, and willingness
to learn is a required step in becoming a critical thinker. Acknowledge your
faults, fallibility, and limitations, and use these to grow.
2. Embrace the Unknown
The uncomfortable feeling you
encounter when confronted with information that counters your current beliefs
is cognitive dissonance. To be a critical thinker you must embrace the often
comfortable unknown, and seek alternative perspectives. Identify your “default”
point of view, and seek out information that will counter it.
Advice can and should be
incorporated into all aspects of your life. When making a decision, speak to
those who believe the opposite. You will not agree with everything they say
(nor should you), but it will highlight blind spots in your mindset and allow
you to make a more informed, and ultimately correct decision. This applies both
to personal decisions, as well as ones made by business leaders.
3. Stay in Tune With Your
While you may be embracing
the unknown and seeking out counter opinions with the best of intentions, in
the moment, you may often be overtaken by emotion. Research has shown
that when confronted with morally-charged situations we make instinctive
judgement calls, quickly, and based on emotion. Then afterwards we rationalize
and attempt to justify our actions.
Although this reaction often
happens below the level of awareness, you can work to overcome it. Stop. Take a
breath, process the information being presented to you, and only then begin to
form your reply. Remain mindful of your feelings, and monitor to ensure your
judgment is based on evidence and not emotion.