How Does a Sharp Thinker Should Think? Four Skills to Improve the Ability to Think

Sharp thinkers don’t necessarily have the highest IQs or the most advanced degrees. They simply have good thinking habits (in the image below an example of Gestalt IQ Test).

In fact they carefully choose the right cognitive approach to solve different problems. Sometimes a broad, big-picture approach is needed to gain perspective, while other situations demand focused attention. 

A brainstorming session requires creative thinking, but financial planning requires more realism. The mode of thinking that suits one project might not be right for another. Successful people work hard to develop these various modes, including the ones for which they have no natural aptitude.

Anyone can improve their ability to think, but it’s a process that demands hard work and frequent reassessment. Rigorous thinking is a discipline, not a one-time process. 

It requires practice, the willingness to learn throughout life, and constant exposure to exciting ideas and new experiences. 

A good thinker should frequently revisit old ideas to make sure that they hold up to scrutiny. Other practiced thinkers can serve as sounding boards and role models, or offer companionship along the way to success.

Cultivating different cognitive modes is a worthwhile investment, professionally and personally. Good thinking practices can elevate a leader from good to great.

But concretely what makes a thinker more highly critical than others? And how can any person lift their game? This can be explored through the notion of habits. Highly critical thinkers have developed many habits which help them think more effectively. With sufficient commitment and patience, such habits can be acquired by all of us.

4 Skills of Sharp Thinkers

  1. Good thinkers use a holistic mindset, that it is means willingness to be curious and pursue a lifelong interest in learning. This learning process doesn’t just happen organically, but it requires deliberate planning.
  2. Sharp thinking requires ability to focus and to stay concentrate. Big-picture thinking is a great way to gain perspective and generate good ideas. But to elevate and refine those ideas from good to great, additional focus is required. The trick is choosing the correct tasks to prioritize, since focus is a valuable, finite resource. No one has unlimited concentration and in any case, simple problems don’t require or deserve careful, sustained attention.
  3. Successful people think ”outside the box”. Every profession requires some degree of creativity. It’s inherently valuable to be able to connect disparate ideas and make unexpected associations. Creative thinking is not the natural talent that many people assume it to be: it’s more like a muscle that strengthens with repeated use. That means a capacity for creativity can be cultivated and enhanced with the right approach, even for people who don’t consider themselves to be creative thinkers at all.
  4. Good thinkers believe in themselves. People who have faith in themselves in order to succeed where others might fail. This belief creates a sense of momentum that benefits all their endeavors and motivates others to work hard in the face of adversity. The simple act of belief makes everyone less likely to give up. Stretching the boundaries of a goal just a bit to the next level of success promotes growth and mindset evolution.

Author: Cristina Capucci

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