I learnt to think differently (and you can too)

April 19, 2023 | Mirta Fagundes dos Santos

My twin brother and I couldn’t be more different – our brains are just wired differently.

At school, my favourite subjects were Art, English, and History. In stark contrast, my twin brother enjoyed Math, Maths, and Mathematics.

And then, there was the Stats108 exam at university, which I desperately needed to pass. My brother had, of course, aced it the year before. Unlike his ‘A,’ I planned to evenly spread my multiple choice answers throughout the questions and pray that would be good enough to get me a C- (the lowest pass mark).

My twin brother and I had the same upbringing and the same friends. We were in the same class at school and had the same teachers. But he was always better at ‘thinking’ than me. He easily understood complex concepts (like physics and chemistry), always had better arguments, won all the discussions, and also made better choices – as my mother would attest to! 

Can we think differently?

If you’re like me, you may have been raised to think that “thinking” can not be taught, that some people are just better, more logical thinkers. They have ‘math’ brains and use data, facts, and logic to analyse situations and see the world more clearly.

Maybe you wish you were a bit more like them, but you’re not. You’re a more emotional, more creative, more seat-of-your-pants kind of person. Analysis-Schmanalysis! You lead with your gut when it comes to problem-solving and decision-making.

You’re Captain Kirk, and they’re Mr. Spock. 

Now that I think about it – the world is divided into Captain Kirks and Mr. Spocks.

And in a world divided into Captain Kirks and Mr. Spocks, if you’re Captain Kirk, surrounding yourself with Mr. Spocks (i.e., intelligent people) makes sense. You know who they are; that one friend who gives the best advice or that co-worker that has a line of people backing out of their office because everyone goes to them when they get stuck.

Can Captain Kirks can’t evolve into Mr. Spocks?

Fast forward a few years, and I am sitting in a training room in Hillside Resort, New Zealand, doing an 8-day, intensive Thinking Process boot camp. I am learning how to think logically.

By the end of the eight days, I’ve learnt about necessity and sufficiency logic, logical diagrams and connections, scrutinizing logic, and solution design – my brain is fried. I finish the training and get back to work. I don’t feel any different, but something inside has changed.

Little by little, my friends start coming to me, looking for advice. Clients start reaching out for a chat, just to ‘run something by me.’ Colleagues start asking me to ‘check their thinking’ before making a call.

I’ve become a Mr. Kirk!!!

No, that is not a typo, I have evolved into an amalgamation of a Mr. Spock and Captain Kirk)

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still an emotional, creative person who doesn’t get math, but the thinking tools I learned have become essential to they way I make decisions and solve problems. And, like most skills, thinking differently doesn’t come naturally to me because I had to learn this way of thinking, as opposed to my brother, who was ‘born’ with it. Nonetheless, I now have access to logical thinking tools that help me think quicker, understand situations clearly, and help me come up with solutions more reliably and systematically than before.

Fast forward to now, and I am visiting my brother and his family over the school holidays. We are talking about work, and he tells me, “Yeah, but you’re just a really logical thinker”. Coming from someone with a ‘math’ brain, that is high praise!

P.S. In case you’re wondering, I got a C in Stats108 – better than I expected! 

P.S.S. If you’re a Captain Kirk and want to learn to think like Mr. Spock, try the first module of our critical thinking course here for free, or enroll into an upcoming Thinking Foundations cohort to learn the basics of logical thinking!