Change your mindset and you’ll tackle problems in a whole new way
Critical thinking is one of Jay Abraham’s core values. We’d go so far as to say it’s one of the reasons he’s known as such a marketing guru. Jay’s ability to step back and assess the situation at hand – using smart questions, logic and depth – has made him one of the most sought after marketing strategists out there. But even if you don’t have Jay’s business experience, you can model his critical thinking skills to make the best decisions possible in all aspects of your life.
Here we’ll cover just what critical thinking entails, some critical thinking skills you can hone and see how it can change the way you approach your business problems.
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What is critical thinking?
The basic definition of critical thinking comes from what it does: it allows you to get a deeper understanding of any topic or issue. To start, “critical” here means analytical, not negative or pessimistic. When you think critically, you question everything instead of accepting things at face value. Through questioning, examining, and reflecting from as many points of view or imaginable scenarios as possible, critical thinking allows you to work through all the possibilities before taking action. It’s using logic to gain clarity.
Critical thinking is another way to unlock creative potential. Because you re-examine all assumptions, you’ll often find overlooked or underutilized factors that could make positive changes, in both business and your personal life.
Elements of a critical thinker:
1. Asks clear questions and brings up potential problems
2. Gathers credible, relevant information
3. Tests conclusions and solutions using relevant metrics
4. Recognizes and works to overcome their own assumptions to think with alternative systems of thought
5. Effectively communicates with others to find solutions
6. Understands the influence of emotions on their decisions
7. Acknowledges their peers’ conformity of thought and works to present other perspectives
8. Works to replace ego-driven thinking with systematic self-reflection
9. Slows down to truly perceive the differences in what superficially appears the same
10. Aims to clarify and understand situations or problems that at first seem overly difficult or complex
What makes someone a critical thinker?
Critical thinking seems fairly straightforward, but it’s all too often left behind in business settings. For one, our society’s general focus on speed over reflection can make taking the time for quality thinking appear challenging. However, slowing down and working through your analysis now will lead to less costly or damaging mistakes down the road.
Here’s an example: Company X is looking to launch a new product. They’ve done the research and are in the final stage of planning. All that’s left is to pick the product’s color, then it’s all systems go. But even though the research points to a shade of blue as optimum (seriously, they’ve tested everything), there’s a manager who says it must be orange. They just “feel” it’s the better choice. And they won’t budge.
How many times have you been in a similar situation where a stakeholder or decision maker looks at all the evidence and continues to hold on to the solution they came in with? Critical thinking allows us to take a step back and let go of our assumptions, whether they’re about product color or marketing strategy, then examine the situation logically. That’s not to say emotion has no role in business, but a key element of a strong critical thinking practice is being aware of your emotions’ influence on your judgements instead of using them to justify your point of view.
At its core, critical thinking strategies make for self-directed, self-corrective and self-monitored thinking. It looks to capture what’s actually taking place, not just what we want to be happening. The importance of critical thinking also lies in its aim at overcoming our native biases, whether social or ego-driven, to gain clarity and depth. So if, in our example above, the pro-orange manager could take a step back and clearly assess the situation, they’d see that their love of orange was clouding their understanding of the research and hindering the whole team as a result.
How can critical thinking help solve my business problems?
Working with thousands of clients over the decades, Jay frequently has an immediate solution for any business problem that’s thrown his way. This comes in part from his outsider stance; because he’s not entrenched in the current patterns of the business, his critical perspective lets him see what’s there that people who are in the situation cannot.
Here are Jay’s ten elements that make up a master critical thinker. Which are you doing already and which can you start to incorporate into your problem-solving process?
Jay Abraham is a proven business leader and top executive coach in the United States, and a close friend of Tony Robbins. Jay has spent his entire career solving complex problems and fixing underperforming businesses. He has significantly increased the bottom lines of over 10,000 clients in more than 1,000 industries, and over 7,200 sub industries, worldwide. Jay has dealt with virtually every type of business scenario and issue. He has studied, and solved, almost every type of business question, challenge and opportunity. His principles can be the difference between mediocrity and a business that generates millions of dollars in additional revenue.