Critical Thinking & Leadership

I wrote in my book, critical thinking should be a continual study for every exceptional leader. To study further, I’ve created this blog and have added more information to research and discuss.

Einstein Imagination I believe Purpose is the origin of life. Everything I do is conceived from purpose. I breathe in order to live, which is the purpose of breathing. Purpose is what drives me. Without purpose there is no action. Even a couch potato, when he gets off the couch to get a drink has a purpose, to quench his thirst, and to sustain his life.

I determine my purpose either consciously or unconsciously, intentionally or instinctively. I prefer the conscious, deliberate method and critical thinking is a great tool to help create and discover my purpose throughout my life.

According to Webster, conscious means “perceiving, apprehending, or noticing with a degree of controlled thought or observation.” Unconscious would be the opposite which is uncontrolled thought. In other words, if I live unconsciously, I am not in control of my thoughts which means I am not in control of my beliefs, which means I am not in control of my actions. Most likely, I sit around wondering why life happens to me the way it does. I feel out of control. I react to life out of instinct.

According to Webster, instinct is defined as “a largely inheritable and unalterable tendency of an organism to make a complex and specific response to environmental stimuli without involving reason.” Probably not a way a human should decide the majority of their actions in their life. Acting without thinking.

Let’s get side tracked for  a moment…

So, I can choose to pursue critical thinking which takes conscious effort and create value in my life, or just let my instincts take over. Would it be the case that instinct is our default programming? To react to life through instinct?

Choice implies two or more options. Instinct is not an option, it is programmed from the beginning and we cannot choose not be instinct. We can only choose to live consciously, not unconsciously. I think that is interesting. We only have one option, which is not a choice. Maybe this is why consciousness is life, and maybe implies unconsciousness is death or at least comatose.

If you are a leader, and you are leading from instinct which is uncontrolled thought, no wonder no one wants to follow, you are dead. I’m pretty sure no one wants to follow a corpse, a zombie, a tyrant. People seek life.

…return from side track.

I believe the purpose of purpose is to create value for my life. To make my life valuable.Einstein valueThinking is inevitable, if I don’t give my mind something to think about, it will make something up on it’s own. This can be dangerous. My mind has a tendency to create my fears and prove my insecurities to be true. And, it never seems to have much faith in me. I don’t think it’s a good idea to give my mind control over itself.

Meditation is the process of keeping the mind focused on one thing and not let it distract itself with random thoughts. Simply put, to discipline the mind not to think, to rest and take a break. This submits it’s will to me, and gives me control of my thoughts. My mind serves me, I do not serve my mind. Another way of saying it is my mind is useful to me, I am not useful to my mind.

So to me, critical thinking is the practice of taking control of my mind to thrash through the jungle of illusion and misinformation that my mind is constantly bombarded, some of which it makes up on it’s own. It’s up to me to crunch through the complexities of my mind and keep life simple.

It is also the skill of dis-associating myself from my emotions and using them as just another form of opinion and information as if contributed from somewhere else. The purpose is to be more objective and equitable. To choose the best decision with all the current information at my disposal and not look back. Never second guess myself after the decision is made with the information I collect afterward. There is no value in this other than to learn and improve my decision making skills for the future, my critical thinking process over time. Critical thinking is a discipline for belief and action.

I believe the definition of critical thinking is the self-disciplined ability to take the complex and crunch it into a simple form for the purpose of taking action that will create value in my life.

Simple EinsteinAlbert Einstein is given credit for many great quotes. Some of which I believe helps reveal the purpose of critical thinking.

  • One of his quotes is “The definition of genius is taking the complex and making it simple.”
  • Two is “Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.”
  • Three is “Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions. Imagination is more important than knowledge.”
  • Forth is “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.”

Critical thinking is composed of all four quotes –

The self-disciplined ability to make the complex simple, which requires imagination and courage, in the search for value.

Our thoughts determine our purpose which drives our actions. Our thoughts are constructed with the language we speak. Therefore, we must understand the words we use. We must use words we mean, and mean the words we use.

Critical: exercising or involving careful judgment or judicious evaluation… Of, relating to, or being a turning point or specially important juncture. Critical, may also imply an effort to see a thing clearly and truly in order to judge it fairly.

Thinking: the action of using one’s mind to produce thoughts.

To reason: the process of thinking about something in a logical way in order to form a conclusion or judgment.

The National Council for Excellence in Critical Thinking defines critical thinking as the ‘intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action.’

With courage and imagination, I must carefully evaluate my thoughts in order to form a conclusion, resulting in an action that will create the most value for my life.

Now that we’ve gone through this exhaustive exercise and I made everything complicated. I will simplify.

Critical thinking is the analysis of my thoughts, imperative to discovering my purpose to create maximum value for my life.

And, I want maximum value.

What is the value in this mental exercise?

In order to be an exceptional leader, I must take action that creates the most value for my life. As I create value for myself, others will follow. In order to do this, it is required that I be in control of my thoughts. Critical thinking is a discipline of the mind, as weight-lifting is a discipline of the body. It creates growth in my ability to crunch more complex situations into simple solutions.

To be continued…

Let me know what you think…

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