What is Critical Thinking & How Do You Improve It?

Great article on Critical Thinking …

Ideas Out There

 

What is Critical Thinking?

In a nutshell, critical thinking is not believing anything… unless the evidence for it is sound. Encoded in this definition are three elements:

  1. A sustained skeptical attitude towards the ideas and information which come your way.
  2. The ability to reason, identify and weigh evidence, as well as the capacity to interrogate arguments effectively.
  3. The formation of a belief, judgement, opinion or course of action.

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The Perception of ‘You’ is greater than ‘Who you are’!

screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-9-13-04-amPerception is a scary concept in reality, and it is really scary when we think that the perception others have of us is completely true. It may not be the exact truth, but to the person who has formed the perception of who you are, the perception they have of you is their truth.

Therefore changing the perception others have of you may be important. It is certainly important if these people, who hold a certain opinion or perception of you, are important to you.

How do we change the perception others have of us?

Firstly you cannot change perceptions overnight, it takes time and strategy. More importantly it is about the intention you have for yourself. Intention begins with the way you see yourself:

Are you Energetic? – Do you have the ability to advance your brand and allow others to have a chance of seeing you differently? Once they notice you and only if they do notice you, will you have the opportunity to change the way they think about you.

Can you be consistent? – Consistency brings predictable success, and you will need to be consistent so that you have a chance of changing the perception of others. Then, further consistency is necessary so that they can trust you to deliver on the new perception they may have formed of you.

Do you see yourself as successful? – Success depends on your ability to see yourself as successful before you actually are. This ability will form your intention, and ultimately your intention becomes the perception others have of you.

What is your strategy going forward, and will your intention be strong enough to change the perception others may have of you?

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Disruptive Thinking and Donald Trump

screen-shot-2016-11-13-at-7-02-17-pmI was asked yesterday if I have written anything on disruptive thinking. My initial response was that my blog contains many articles about Disruption including Our Relationship with Disruption, then I asked myself “What is disruptive thinking and what value does it have?” Well, the simple answer is: disruptive thinking has little or no value, if it does not result in questions, and even more so, questions that will disrupt the status quo and conventional wisdom (whatever that may be).

Once your thinking has disrupted you, then you need to ask yourself why you think like you do. If, however, you are unsure, then you should start a dialogue with others. If this dialogue is to be effective then we need to release the idea that we must share our ideas. We should rather allow our question to disrupt the people we are in dialogue with, so as to speed our learning by listening to the thoughts of others. The more direct, open and honest we can be with asking our questions, the better the reactions of others will be. All we need to do is listen, observe, and learn to ask more questions, without necessarily adding our opinion or response until we are sure that the ideas and thoughts of the other person have been exhausted.

You may want to ask the following question …

Why did Donald Trump become President of the United States?

Be careful here –  don’t ask questions like journalists, who tend to want to confirm the ideas that they already have. This type of questioning is what we have been taught by the propaganda machine of mass media. Rather listen and learn, ask good questions. Try to understand what the person is trying to tell you, rather than what you are needing to know. After all, if you ask questions about what you need to know means you probably know it already; the only people who ask questions that they already know the answer to are lawyers. The reason they ask those type of questions is that they are trying to evoke an emotional response from you, and are checking if you are consistent in your answers. When we are trying to understand something, we will often speak around in circles, and we usually come out with a definition we are happy with if we are given enough time. This is how we as humans often discover new ideas, and this can be called disruptive thinking, but this can only happen if we allow ourselves to think.

Allow people to share why they think Donald Trump became the president. Take no notice of those who have been swayed by the media into thinking Donald Trump may not be the right candidate. The real question that needs to be asked is Why did Donald Trump become President of the United States? The answer you are looking for is the actual reason why the person you are questioning thinks Donald Trump became president.

I need to remind you of my saying: Don’t look for the ideas that will confirm your thinking, rather look for the ideas and the trends that will disrupt your thoughts. Never has this been so true, and the opportunity to learn is now bigger than ever.

When we can hear the answers that other people are giving us and when we can truly allow their answers to disrupt our thinking – disregarding what is useless, and keeping what is valuable to our own thinking – this is when we can honestly say that we have Disruptive Thinking.

Image : AFP / http://www.theaustralian.com.au/
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Crimson Sweat: Bounce Back

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Leader of the Future (Part 5) – The Leader

screen-shot-2016-10-18-at-11-04-12-amThe task of a leader is to make more leaders, not more followers. This raises an interesting question, as many of the examples we see in the world today are actually toxic leaders, so then what are the leaders creating … More Toxic Leaders or Good Leaders?

Everything duplicates, good examples and the bad ones. So what example are we showing the leaders of the future? In this series, my intention has been to show the different characteristics needed by the leaders so that they can be effective in the future. I have discussed The Visionary, The Listener, The Communicator and The Connector. Today I look at the leadership approach that needs to be taken by the true leader of the future. This leader is not some insecure manager who has been given a title, but rather a servant to the needs of the people. This demands a unique approach and unfortunately the examples to follow are few, so instead I would encourage you to find your own path to becoming a leader. Hopefully you are driven by your sense of kindness, and the understanding you have of being a influential human who has the best interest of others at heart.

Leader in the Age of Humanity

Have you ever wondered what the next age will be? Most of what we see as development today came from the Industrial Age, which was closely followed by the Technological Age and the Age of Knowledge. It is debatable as to which age we find ourselves in currently. The Age of Wisdom could be the last age or it could be the glue that holds all the ages together. Wherever we may be in the ages at the moment, many signs point to the beginning of the Age of Humanity.

People have more information than ever before and they are able to gain more recognition than they ever have. No longer are people accepting that they are just a number in the system, but that they can actually control the system. This control is gained through finding like-minded people and gathering the Tribe together. With the rise of social media and other online platforms, it has become easy to identify your Tribe and find people all over the world who think like you do.

The challenge is: which leader will be bold enough to consider the needs of the Tribe and then serve the Tribe, gaining the respect and influence with which people honour true leaders?

OPEN Leadership – The concept of Open Leadership was uncovered by Thomas Power in the UK. I would suggest reading some of my blog posts discussing this idea: When is Leadership ORSome? which covers the thinking behind the OPEN, RANDOM & SUPPORTIVE style needed to be an effective leader. Also have a look at Pro-Active Communication (actually Leadership) and THINK … Do we need OPEN Leadership?

What do we understand about the Future of Leadership? – To be honest we know very little about the future, but we can look at the needs of people and then ask how can we serve them better – this answer will help us to be better leaders.

All that is certain is that leadership is a challenge and we will need to work with people, closer than we have ever worked before, and through this collaboration we will learn together. Hopefully we will be able to tame our egos so that we can be true servants of people and thus gain the honour of being able to effectively serve them.

See you on the leadership journey, a journey that will last forever.

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The Art of Disruption

screen-shot-2016-10-18-at-11-11-01-amMost people think disruption is actually destruction … This causes them to immediately go into survival mode – the basic flight or fight response of the human. Therefore I can actually tell you I am going to disrupt you and the response will be the same as when I don’t tell you. The reality is, if I tell you I am going to disrupt you or even if I don’t tell you, the moment you sense the unknown you assume survival mode. This causes you to defend yourself physically or mentally. Mentally  you will start defending the belief that you have about something, regardless of whether you know the subject well or even what the truth is regarding the subject.

More importantly, disruption causes all our senses to go into high alert and this is exactly why disruption becomes a powerful tool to get the attention of the people you are trying to reach.

There are many ways of disrupting, it could be the questions you ask or the way you engage others in conversation. What is important is did you get the attention of your listener?

Lets share different ideas of how disruption works for us.

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Leader of the Future (Part 4) – The Connector

In part four we focus on the actual human connection needed for leadership. We started the series with The Visionary, The Listener and in part 3 we discussed The Communicator. In the article we look at the future leader, who will need the ability to form associations with people.

In traditional business we could assume that we have enough knowledge within our own organisation, but realistically most of the resources were external to the organisation. The consultant became the flavour of the day. In the new world of collaboration we are no longer interested in people who tell us how things should be done – we would rather let them show us how things are done or even better do the work if they are the best in the field or the expert. Allowing people to simply do things for develops the us and them concept. If we want to achieve real success, we need strategic partners working alongside us, aligned to the vision and goals of the company as opposed to simple external suppliers.

screen-shot-2016-10-13-at-10-01-22-pmTHE CONNECTOR

The need for leadership is greater as business evolves and the changes are much quicker than we previously experienced. The leader of the future will need to have the ability to connect, assess new connections and their strategic ability to work with the existing teams and deliver together as an integral part of the team.

Why are Associations so important? – We should never assume that we can have all the skills we need or even be able to employ the right people within your organisation. Therefore  a good leader will connect with people, find out what their capabilities are and assess their strengths. The vision is to form associations that will be beneficial in the  long run. People who have resources, who can be included into project teams and who can contribute to the success of these projects. It will be the leader’s duty to chose and assemble the teams.

Will new teams be formed for each project? – Yes this is the strength of associations, you can select the right people for every task and ensure that you can be the most efficient team on every project you tackle.

Will associations change the way we work in the future? – This is probably the most disruptive and futuristic thought about the way we will work in the future. My opinion is that the way we employ people will change. No longer will you join a company and work for a couple of years, then move on to the next company. People will simply be contracted to a company for the duration of the project and once completed they will need to find find themselves the next project. Connecting will be more important than ever in the future, you will need to brand yourself and sell yourself constantly.

Leadership will need to be flexible realising that you can only work with the best people within your associations. The leader who consistently finds better connections will have the most flexibility to tackle challenges and projects in the future. It is the value of your associations  that will determine your success!

Connections are so important and our ability to connect needs to be refined. Here are some of my articles I suggest for further reading: Are we actually CONNECTED or are we just being Social? Connecting or Wasting Your Time? … Social R.O.I. and Why is connecting so hard?

 

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Leader of the Future (Part 3) – The Communicator

So far in this series I have discussed The Visionary and The Listener. Now you may be thinking that leaders should be able to communicate, so why would I write a complete article on the leader’s need to communicate? The answer is simple: because traditionally leaders do not actually communicate – they read speeches written by others and get public relations people to send out press releases on their behalf. The excuse for these actions is that the leader has more important things to do. Really what is more important than leading? Who are you leading then if something is more important than the people you lead?

We could say that in many cases the profits and the financial issues are more important. Certainly yes, to a toxic leader his own need to gather vast amounts of money at the expense of the people would definitely make sense. But then who makes the company money, is it not people? Should a leader not be communicating directly with these people?

Perhaps leaders traditionally did not communicate with people as that would have made them more accountable? Could that be true? Then the question needs to be asked – were these just titles or were they leaders? We need to think and ponder more when we hear people saying things and accept a little less of the bull. We should have higher expectations of our leaders.

screen-shot-2016-10-12-at-6-48-42-pmTHE COMMUNICATOR

As mentioned in my other articles – 80% of our success comes from listening. Leaders cannot be effective communicators if they have not listened, and as John Maxwell says ‘People don’t care what you know, until they know how much you care’.

As we move from the Technological Age to the Human Age, leaders will need to communicate and can no longer rely on the systems and people to do the communication for them. If a leader allows other people to communicate for him, regardless of medium used – the person communicating forms the relationship and not the leader. In my article Warning to Business Leaders Using Social Media I told leaders this. That may have been a harsh article then, but it is becoming a reality lately. It is truly amazing how quickly things change and what was once a thought is now the only way to operate.

Why is it important that the leader communicates directly with his followers? – The amount of information people receive daily from television, radio and all the online platforms is astronomical. If the leader cannot keep the connection with their followers,  they will lose the ability to communicate with them in the midst of all this noise. Without this consistent communication the people will soon lose the vision, become insecure and look for a leader that will give them what they need!

I welcome your commentary … How will leaders need to be in the future? In the next two articles I will look at The Connector and The Leader.

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Leader of the Future (Part 2) – The Listener

In part one of this series I discussed the value of The Visionary leader, however leaders don’t simply have vision. In order for a leader to be effective, they need to be able to serve people and the skill is to find out what people need so that they can be served better.

How would you go about finding out what people need? – Well you could do some sort of survey and ask them directly. But are surveys what leaders do or is that simply a market research type function? I don’t think surveys are what leaders do – leaders should be connecting face to face with the people they are wanting to serve, finding out what people want. Sure they may be a select few with who the leader actually engages, but these few, if they are from varied backgrounds, will be representative of the needs of the people.

screen-shot-2016-10-11-at-12-44-11-pmTHE LISTENER

Did you know that 80% of our success comes from listening? People often ask what the other 20% is – well if you have 80% already would you really worry about the other 20%? Listening is an art! Most people say they listen, some listen to understand and even fewer confirm they have actually listened by asking you a question to clarify what has just been said.

Things are changing daily, some of these things make it to the mass media and we are fed this information by the news and other sources of information. There is however information that will never make it to the media, and most of this includes human emotion and sentiment. Media listening agencies have been trying to capture sentiments of comments and interactions. Yet the most effective way is simply for a leader to get face to face with someone, and then you can make your own observations about the sentiments, but more importantly understand the drivers behind the sentiments you are hearing. Without sentiments and understanding of the emotions of people, we will never be able to understand the WHY. In turn, without this understanding, we would find it extremely difficult to serve people, hence the reason why so many leaders fail in the world. They often develop into Toxic Leaders who are no good for themselves or the organisations they find themselves in.

Who are we listening to? – Listen to those who have an opinion. We often talk about thought leadership. Never forget that it’s not just the leader who is supposed to think. Can you encourage others to share their opinions with you? Will you listen without judging, making the other person comfortable to say what they really want to say?

What is our duty as listeners? – Your duty as a listener is to listen beautifully to others; when we listen with intent we discover the three levels of listening: 1) People will tell you want you want to hear. 2) People will tell you what they want to tell you and if you listen long enough you will discover 3) People will tell you secrets.

How can we show more empathy when listening? – The meaning of empathy is walking in someone else’s shoes, therefore we should try to imagine ourselves in the situation that is being shared with us. This will allow us to understand better and, when we have finished listening, to give better feedback. Remember we should never assume that the person you are listening to has finished speaking. Always work with silence and when you think the other person has completed what they have to say, simply ask them if they would like to say something else, or get them to expand on something you feel was important to them. You will know this by the emotion or lack of it expressed by the person when they are speaking.

When do we know we are not listening? – When we hold our opinion and wait to interrupt, we are not listening. Learn to concentrate on what the other person is saying, try and learn something. If this is your intention, you will become a better listener.

For further inspiration please read Thinking – 10 Disruptive Possibilities

Join me for the next three parts of this series when I discuss the attributes a future leader requires: The Communicator, The Connector and ultimately The Leader

Let’s start the conversation about Leadership, I am ready and listening.

 

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Leader of the Future (Part 1) – The Visionary

When we think of the current state of leadership, we will probably all agree that leadership needs a change more than anything in our world today and I have ranted about this in previous articles. I encourage you to read Why is Leadership Development so ineffective?  to understand my thinking, and what needs to be done from a training and development perspective. Yesterday I wrote Toxic Leadership – The Global Reality  and this deals with what we can expect from good leaders today, but what will leaders of the future be like? Some will argue they will be the same as today and perhaps less effective. This of course could easily be the reality and that would be a sad state indeed.

Rather than focus on the now, let’s dream a bit and imagine what characteristics, abilities and skills a good leader will need in the future. A guideline for leaders and aspiring leaders in the next few years.

screen-shot-2016-10-10-at-9-39-13-amTHE VISIONARY

Vision is not limited to the future and perhaps this is why leaders tend to shy away from the visionary part of leadership. We believe that we cannot predict the future, and therefore we try not to communicate too much of our opinion into the future. Instead we remain in the past, looking at statistics and managing accordingly. This may work but in so doing we have neglected the very basics of leadership.

Who are we leading? – We lead people and we manage systems. When we place more focus on systems than on people we become managers. Yet a leader is only a leader, if there are people to serve. Leaders know that they exist because of the people they are able to serve and you can only be judged as a good leader by the people you serve.

What is the leaders duty? – The leaders first and foremost duty is to serve, but what does this service look like. Simply put the leaders duty is to communicate the vision, by simplifying and ensuring that everyone on the journey has bought into the common vision. The more effective the communication of the vision to more security the people have and with time the vision becomes their own.

The vision should be over communicated by the leader in as many different ways as possible. The art of telling a story in different ways is the skill the leader of the future will need to develop. This may sound challenging but the reality is that when anything truly becomes your intention, communicating is simplified as you can trust yourself knowing that everything you do and say is from your intention. People will begin to understand and feel the intention of the leader, actually finding security in the belief of the leader. This intentional communication can also be described as passion.

Why is this intentional communication so important? – We live in a world of vast amounts of information, which to most of us is simply noise and we lack the ability to focus on the important. Even governments have become ineffective due to the The lost art of Propaganda, simply because they can no longer intimidate people as they did in the past due to the fact that people share information and re-assure each other. The leader needs to keep communicating to the tribe and allow them to focus on the journey on hand.

Will this work for everybody? – No certainly not! In most organisations there are the performers and the non-performers. We all wish that the non-performers will leave and the performers will stay, however the reality is usually the reverse. We are then left with non-performers who simply ‘collect their pay’.

Why did the performers leave the organisation? – Someone else communicated a vision which gave them a better sense of purpose than the current organisation. This gave them a renewed vision for their own lives and a better sense of purpose. This is simply because the vision was communicated by the leader – not just internally within the walls of the organisation, but for the whole world to hear.

Leaders need to communicate the vision over and over again, ensuring that people within the organisation and outside the organisation understand the intention. It will not be easy, but then who ever said leadership would be easy?

In the rest of this series I will cover : The Listener, The Communicator, and The Connector.

Let’s start the conversation about Leadership, I would appreciate your feedback.

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