We are in the midst of home renovations (sigh and eye-roll).
It started as a simple fix-up, but once the builder got on site our reno became an itch that won’t stop, and with each scratch, the itch gets worse and worse.
What has been fascinating, aside from the bottomless itch, is watching our builder, Lucas, work. No matter the issue he uncovers he seems to have the right tool to problem-solve and fix it.
Yesterday morning, Lucas and I sat down and had coffee before he started working. He was asking me about what I do.
“I teach people how to think”, I said.
“What do you mean? Who doesn’t know how to think?”
He brought up a good point.
Everyone thinks, much like everyone breathes.
But, not everyone breathes or thinks effectively.
One day while at the gym, my friend Billy got told he was breathing ‘wrong’ while exercising. Because your body uses more oxygen while exercising, you should ideally be using your diaphragm to take deeper breaths and deliver as much oxygen to your muscles as possible, instead of the shallow breaths that most of us use when breathing with our chest
There are also optimal breathing ways depending on if you are singing, giving birth, playing the saxophone, running, or meditating. These activities, and many more, involve deliberate, conscious breathing speed, depth, and rhythm. Unfortunately, most of our breathing occurs unconsciously.
According to the Harvard Business Review 95% of all the thinking that drives our decisions and behaviors, occurs unconsciously too. Meaning, our thoughts are reactive and out of our control, but like with breathing, we can think more deliberately.
In a world where we are constantly making decisions and solving problems under change and uncertainty, replacing unconscious thinking with deliberate thinking could be a determining factor between bad, good, and great outcomes.
So how can we think more deliberately and more effectively?
Well, much like my builder friend – with dozens of different tools he uses to fix the different problems in my house – there are also thinking tools that we can use to think optimally, depending on the specific situation that we need to deal with.
For example, in our Black Belt in Thinking courses, we teach, among others:
– Conflict resolution tools. When we need to decide between two opposing choices, and we can’t make up our minds. Both choices tend to have pros and cons that are equally as good, or as bad.
– Recurring problem tools. When we have a pesky problem that just isn’t going away. Usually, we get stuck in a vicious loop of conflicting pressures that cause us to shift back and forth between different actions that are meant to solve the problem but never do.
– Obstacle removing tools. When we have a clear goal but have no idea how to achieve it. Or, we don’t know how to get started. Or, we find that, more often than not, we run into obstacles that prevent us from moving forward.
– Solution innovation tools. When we need to come up with a robust solution because the stakes are too high. Instead of winging it – we need to come up with the right solution the first time around
None of these are technical terms, but they are technical tools, and practical too! They were created by the late Dr. Eliyahu Goldratt, and are widely used in business, as well as personal development arenas today.
So, if you’re ready to think more effectively, come and get a taste of the thinking tools! Try the first module of our thinking Foundations course FREE – so you can solve problems more robustly and make better, more effective decisions.
Mirta is a Director of ViAGO Limited, a behavioral science enthusiast, and a mum to three boisterous boys.