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Truly Smart People Go Through These 4 Stages To Develop Their Critical Thinking Abilities

Truly Smart People Go Through These 4 Stages To Develop Their Critical Thinking Abilities

Simply getting more information won’t make you smarter

Everyone wants to be smarter. Sometimes, we’re just amazed by those who can think quickly and deeply. To be like them, we easily make the assumption that the larger our knowledge bases are, the smarter we become. While this assumption is true in some sense, it doesn’t present the whole picture. Compared with how much information we come across, it’s more important to pay attention to how we interpret the information.

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To ensure that we can absorb information more efficiently, we have to work on improving on our critical thinking skills. Actually, all truly smart people have gone through the following four stages to gain their well-developed minds. Check the following to see which critical thinking stage you’re staying at now and how you can reach the final stage:[1]

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Level 1 thinker: believing in what others tell you.

When you fail to think independently, you will start to believe everything the majority tells you. People at this level of thinking tend to believe what other people or society tell them to believe. To change this mindset, it all starts with you. You should feel confident in your ability to use your own mind to solve your own problems. So, stop relying on the majority and start to think on your own.[2]

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Level 2 thinker: trapped in binary opposition.

Do you think in terms of binary? If so, you may view the world as either black or white. You are unable to accept the ambiguities in your everyday life. You might find that you fall into the trap of confirmation bias, which means that you only accept information compatible with your stance and simply filter out opposing ideas. So, learn to recognize the in-between area’s in your everyday life and stop filtering out opposing ideas. Absorb different areas of interest and learn to look at things from new angles.

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Level 3 thinker: being able to see things from more than one dimension.

This type of thinker is able to judge things from more than one dimension. For example, when buying a cup, they know that cups with higher prices are more durable, and cups with lower quality cost less money. They can see the pros and cons in everything and are able to judge the validity of information they read logically. However, they have a narrower perspective than the level 4 thinkers. To reach level 3, you should first realize the fact there is no definite answer for everything, and then you should keep challenging the assumptions you have, especially those you’ve adhered to for a long time. With constant practice in this, you can develop your own point of view when analysing an issue.

Level 4 thinker: connecting the dots and thinking in multiple dimensions.

When you become a level 4 thinker, people will be amazed by your strong intuition when making decisions. But deep down you know that mature critical thinking ability enables you to connect the seemingly irrelevant dots, and so you can see things from a much wider perspective than others. While you’re used to thinking outside the box, even when you encounter an unfamiliar problem, you can instantly identify the root of the problem, and come up with the most effective solution.

When you start to progress through the stages of critical thinking development, you will start to learn how to connect the dots. When you connect the dots, you learn to think for yourself and form a full and complete picture. Yet, the most amazing thing you will find is that you now have the ability to possess insights that other people simply cannot.

Reference

[1] The Critical Thinking Community: Critical Thinking Development A Stage Theory
[2] The Critical Thinking Community: Critical Thinking Development A Stage Theory

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Dr. Jamie Schwandt

Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt & Red Team Critical Thinker

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Last Updated on October 16, 2019

Invaluable Lessons You Can Learn From Your Mistakes

Invaluable Lessons You Can Learn From Your Mistakes

Do you like making mistakes?

I certainly don’t.

Making mistakes is inevitable. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could be at ease with them?

Perhaps there is a way to think of them differently and see their benefits.

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Why Mistakes Feel Dangerous

Mistakes often feel dangerous. Throughout human history, our errors have often been treated as dangerous for a variety of reasons:

  • Our vulnerability. We have limited and fragile support systems. When those systems fail, people often lose their lives.
  • Real dangers. Nature can be dangerous, and making mistakes can put us at the mercy of nature and its animal residents seeking a meal.
  • Ignorance. Many cultures scapegoats someone whenever there is a failure of some kind. Scapegoating can be serious and deadly.
  • Order. Many societies punish those who do not conform to the prevailing orthodoxy and treat difference and non-conformity as a mistake. Even our brains flash an error message whenever we go against prevailing social norms.

We have a history of handling mistakes and failure in an unpleasant way. Since each of us carries our human history with us, it can be a challenge to overcome the fear of making mistakes.

If we can embrace the reality of mistakes, we can free ourselves to be more creative in our lives and dig up some interesting insights.

Why We Can’t Avoid Making Mistakes

Many people operate under the notion that making mistakes is an aberration, a mistake if you will. You can call it perfectionism but it is a more substantial problem. It is really a demand for order and continuity.

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When we think we can eliminate mistakes, we are often working from a perspective that sees the world as a fixed place. The world, however, is not so obliging. Like it or not, the world, and everything in it, is constantly changing.

Change is more constant and pervasive than we can see with our own eyes which is why we often miss it. Our bodies are constantly changing. The natural conditions of the earth change constantly as well. Everything, including economic and cultural systems have life cycles. Everything is in a constant state of flux.

We cannot see all of the changes going on around us since rates of change vary. Unfortunately, when we try to create a feeling of certainty and solidity in our lives or operate from the illusion of stability and order, we are fighting reality and our natural evolution which is built on adapting to change.

It is better to continually bend into this reality rather than fight every change we experience. Fighting it can cause us to make more mistakes. Finding the benefits in change can be useful and help us minimize unnecessary mistakes.

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Lessons Learned from Making Mistakes

Life has so many uncertainties and variables that mistakes are inevitable. Fortunately, there are many things you can learn from making mistakes.

Here is a list of ways to harness the mistakes you make for your benefit.

  1. Point us to something we did not know.
  2. Reveal a nuance we missed.
  3. Deepen our knowledge.
  4. Tell us something about our skill levels.
  5. Help us see what matters and what does not.
  6. Inform us more about our values.
  7. Teach us more about others.
  8. Let us recognize changing circumstances.
  9. Show us when someone else has changed.
  10. Keep us connected to what works and what doesn’t work.
  11. Remind us of our humanity.
  12. Spur us to want to better work which helps us all.
  13. Promote compassion for ourselves and others.
  14. Teach us to value forgiveness.
  15. Help us to pace ourselves better.
  16. Invite us to better choices.
  17. Can teach us how to experiment.
  18. Can reveal a new insight.
  19. Can suggest new options we had not considered.
  20. Can serve as a warning.
  21. Show us hidden fault lines in our lives which can lead us to more productive arrangements.
  22. Point out structural problems in our lives.
  23. Prompt us to learn more about ourselves.
  24. Remind us how we are like others.
  25. Make us more humble.
  26. Help us rectify injustices in our lives.
  27. Show us where to create more balance in our lives.
  28. Tell us when the time to move on has occurred.
  29. Reveal where our passion is and where it is not.
  30. Expose our true feelings.
  31. Bring out problems in a relationship.
  32. Can be a red flag for our misjudgments.
  33. Point us in a more creative direction.
  34. Show us when we are not listening.
  35. Wake us up to our authentic selves.
  36. Can create distance with someone else.
  37. Slow us down when we need to.
  38. Can hasten change.
  39. Reveal our blind spots.
  40. Are the invisible made visible.

Reframe Reality to Handle Mistakes More Easily

The secret to handling mistakes is to:

  • Expect them as part of the process of growth and development.
  • Have an experimental mindset.
  • Think in evolutional rather than fixed terms.

When we accept change as the natural structure of the world, our vulnerability and humanness lets us work with the ebb and flow of life.

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When we recognize the inevitability of mistakes as part of the ongoing experiment which life is, then we can relax more. In doing so we may make fewer of them.

It also helps to keep in mind that trial and error is an organic natural way of living. It is how we have evolved over time. It is better to be with our natural evolution than to fight it and make life harder.

When we adopt an evolutional mindset and see ourselves as part of the ongoing human experiment, we can appreciate that all that has been built up over time which includes the many mistakes our ancestors have made over thousands of years. Each one of us today is a part of that human tradition of learning and experimenting,

Mistakes are part of the trial and error, experimental nature of life. The more you adopt the experimental, evolutional frame, the easier it becomes to handle mistakes.

Handling mistakes well can help you relax and enjoy all aspects of life more.

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Featured photo credit: Sarah Kilian via unsplash.com

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