PORTRAIT OF A GOOD THINKER - How Successful People Think: Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life

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You often hear someone say that a colleague or friend is a “good thinker,” but that phrase means something different to everyone. To one person it may mean having a high IQ, while to another it could mean knowing a bunch of trivia or being able to figure out a whodunit when reading a mystery novel. I believe that good thinking isn’t just one thing. It consists of several specific thinking skills. Becoming a good thinker means developing those skills to the best of your ability

It doesn’t matter whether you were born rich or poor. It doesn’t matter if you have a third-grade education or possess a Ph.D. It doesn’t matter if you suffer from multiple disabilities or you’re the picture of health. No matter what your circumstances, you can learn to be a good thinker. All you must do is be willing to engage in the process every day

in Built to Last, Jim Collins and Jerry Porras describe what it means to be a visionary company, the kind of company that epitomizes the pinnacle of American business. They describe those companies this way:

A visionary company is like a great work of art. Think of Michelangelo’s scenes from Genesis on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel or his statue of David. Think of a great and enduring novel like Huckleberry Finn or Crime and Punishment. Think of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony or Shakespeare’s Henry V. Think of a beautifully designed building, like the masterpieces of Frank Lloyd Wright or Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. You can’t point to any one single item that makes the whole thing work; it’s the entire work—all the pieces working together to create an overall effect—that leads to enduring greatness.

Good thinking is similar. You need all the thinking “pieces” to become the kind of person who can achieve great things. Those pieces include the following eleven skills:

  • Seeing the Wisdom of Big-Picture Thinking 
  • Unleashing the Potential of Focused Thinking 
  • Discovering the Joy of Creative Thinking 
  • Recognizing the Importance of Realistic Thinking 
  • Releasing the Power of Strategic Thinking
  • Feeling the Energy of Possibility Thinking 
  • Embracing the Lessons of Reflective Thinking 
  • Questioning the Acceptance of Popular Thinking 
  • Encouraging the Participation of Shared Thinking 
  • Experiencing the Satisfaction of Unselfish Thinking 
  • Enjoying the Return of Bottom-Line Thinking  
As you read the chapters dedicated to each kind of thinking, you will discover that they do not try to tell you what to think; they attempt to teach you how to think. As you become acquainted with each skill, you will find that some you do well, others you don’t. Learn to develop each of those kinds of thinking, and you will become a better thinker. Master all that you can—including the process of shared thinking which helps you compensate for your weak areas—and your life will change.