a three-part series
by Chuck Gazzolli
Part 3 Barriers to Successful Thinking
1.Uncreative. When we stop at the first answer or solution that comes to mind, we are limiting our vision. We need to get into the habit of asking, “What else can be done? What other possibilities exist?” Here’s an opportunity for you to test your creativity. Can you solve this puzzle?
Michael has to get three animals across a small river. His raft can only hold one animal and himself at a time. The three animals are: a fox, a chicken, and a worm.
If Michael leaves the fox and chicken alone (on either side of the river), the fox will eat the chicken.
If Michael leaves the chicken and the worm alone, the chicken will eat the worm.
The problem: How can Michael get the three animals across the river, making sure all of them remain safe?
Are you stumped? Stuck in conventional thinking and unable to solve the puzzle? If so, the answer appears at the end of this article.
2.Perfectionism. Stop trying to be perfect; it’s futile, you never will be. So, why try? Give it a shot: voice your opinion, trust yourself and share your ideas.
3.Confirmation Bias. This is the habit of always looking for evidence that supports your beliefs and discarding whatever doesn’t fit. It prevents you from seeing reality. The best way to overcome it is by looking for evidence for contrary beliefs. This will expand your view, bringing it closer to reality.
4.Need to be Right. Which is more important the truth or your feelings? Those who have an obsessive need to always be right can’t handle the truth. If their belief contradicts the truth, they simply deny it. Don’t you agree with Edward de Bono who said that “It is better to have enough ideas for some of them to be wrong, than to be always right by having no ideas at all.”
5.The “Village Venus Effect.” Villagers of an isolated village come to believe that the most beautiful girl in the world is the most beautiful girl in their village. She represents the standard by which all other women are judged. Similarly, thinkers believe the ideas in their mind (village) are the best there are. Such a narrow view prevents one from seeing and benefiting from the bigger picture, or as Roman poet Horace wrote, “Men cease to think when they think they know it all.”
6.Generalizing. When we believe everyone from a particular country, religion, race, or political party think alike, we are generalizing. It is a form of sloppy or lazy thinking. After all, it takes time and effort to gather the facts, and generalizing helps us avoid the drudgery of research.
7.Believing without Questioning. Too often we believe what we have read or heard without questioning the validity. Buddha cautioned his followers to question everything he taught them. If you accept things blindly, they are not your thoughts, but the thoughts of another. But when you question and mull over what you learn, it becomes your thoughts, beliefs, and opinions. Better to follow a knowledgeable you then a questionable other person.
8.Gullibility. Of course we should have an open mind, but not so open that any fool can walk in and peddle superstition, conspiracy theories, and bizarre beliefs without supporting evidence. Make your mind a treasure chest, not a garbage dump.
9.False Claims of Causality. Did you ever hear that all heroin users started out as marijuana smokers? The implication is that marijuana leads to heroin use. But guess what? After long hours of research, I have discovered all heroin users ate food before they started to take drugs. Therefore, food is a cause of drug addiction! No, that doesn’t make sense. So, beware of false claims that link one thing to another. Often, the links are merely coincidences.
Tips and Caveats
1.When you’re finding it difficult to solve a personal problem, pretend the problem isn’t yours, but your friend’s. And imagine yourself giving advice to your friend. Alternatively, imagine that a friend, professor, or famous therapist is giving you advice. What would they tell you?
2.“There are two ways to slide easily through life: to believe everything or to doubt everything. Both ways save us from thinking.” (-Alfred Korzybski) Another way to slide through life is to follow tradition without questioning it.
3.Remember, “You cannot plough a field by turning it over in your mind.” (Gordon B. Hinckley). Neither can you accomplish much in life by merely mulling over your thoughts; you’ve got to put them to use by taking action.
4.Don’t confuse thinking with feeling. When you say, “I think I’ll have another beer,” you’re not thinking; you’re feeling like another beer. If you were thinking, you may say, “I think I’ll stop. I had enough already.”
If the subject of thinking has sparked your interest, why not turn to the world’s leading expert on the subject, Edward De Bono. You’ll find many of his books through an internet search.
Answer to Puzzle
Reprinted with permission.
© Chuck Gallozzi
For more articles and contact information,
Full-Spectrum Thinking: How to Escape Boxes in a Post-Categorical Future by Bob Johansen
The Art of Thinking Clearly by Rolf Dobelli
The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking by Edward B. Burger and Michael Starbird
Super Thinking: The Big Book of Mental Models By Gabriel Weinberg and Lauren McCann
Mental Models: 30 Thinking Tools that Separate the Average from the Exceptional By Peter Hollins
Quantum Leap Thinking: An Owner’s Guide to the Mind by James J Mapes
The Value of Systems Thinking
Meta-Thinking: How to Develop an Accurate Worldview
A Little film about a Big Idea: Meta Thinking