We spend way too much time doing and not enough time thinking. It seems the mantra in the US is ready - fire - aim. I know that I’m guilty of this and I bet you might be also.
The art of thinking is like the art of listening. Both are things we in the US need to get better at.
Do you start off with why?
Thinking is in many respects having a conversation with yourself. You don’t have to talk out loud, but you do have to talk. During this conversation you want to start with why.
You probably should think about actions you need to take. Ask yourself why those actions are important. Instead of starting off with ready - fire - aim, spend a lot of time aiming. Aiming is when you are thinking why something is important, not what or how.
How you think is important.
Thinking is a solitary activity. Having a conversation with someone before you’ve thought about your topic by yourself is mostly a useless activity.
We already know that when we talk with others we’re not listening to what someone else is saying. We’re coming up with what we want to say next. Talking is not thinking, it’s defending why we’re right.
Where you think is important.
Don’t try to think about important things while you’re driving your car. Don’t think about things in a busy place. If possible find someplace to think that is quiet. Find someplace to think where you’re not going to be interrupted.
Thinking is not meditating. I’m a huge fan of meditation and think it’s something you should do. There are lots of similarities in where you think and where you meditate. They’re similar activities. You could say thinking and meditating are first cousins.
A quiet and serene place is best to think. Find one that you can use regularly and ask those around you to leave you alone while you’re thinking. Putting a sign up might be a good idea. What do you think?
Checking your premises is part of the deal.
When you think you’ve got your answer check your premises. Ask why several times. Keep asking why until you have a core reason for moving forward.
Thinking is hard work. You need to first frame your questions, ask why your question is important to think about and then check whether your answer makes sense. I often find that it’s best to check your gut. If you feel the answer is correct, there’s a good chance it is.
What thinking will get you.
If you think deeply about an issue you’ll get a good answer. Instead of rooting around looking for the right answer you’ll have thought about what you want and why it’s important. The next phase of figuring out how to get there and who needs to be involved is easy.
You can start to involve others in the how and who part of your decision making process. You’re now clear on what you want and why it’s important. You can let others you’re working with know the answer to both questions. This allows all that are helping you solve the problem get on the same page.
I can tell you that if you take the time to think before acting you’ll save time and get better results. Never and I mean never take actions that are important before thinking about them. If you can develop a thinking strategy you’ll find you get better answers that come more quickly.
One of the things about thinking is that you need to have time to think. I suggest that you consider becoming a passive owner. I call this operational irrelevance. I’ve written a case study on how to make this transition. To get this case, click on the button below.