Monday, November 14th, 2016
One of the biggest problems is the tendency to think in black-and-white terms when the real world exists entirely in shades of gray. Simplicity has its limits. In reality, things are almost never as they seem.
Most successful people are multidimensional or critical thinkers who ask a lot of questions and look at things from many points of view before arriving at what is usually the right decision. That said, they didn’t all start out that way.
Experience has a way of teaching us just how complex the real world can be. “Keep it simple” may be a great mantra, but you often have to consider all sorts of factors and look at things from lots of different angles to arrive at what, in hindsight, might seem like the obvious answer.
What we call out-of-the-box thinking is actually a process of questioning conventional wisdom, challenging the status quo, and looking at problems differently to arrive at unique solutions. Preconceived notions and strongly held beliefs, (black-and-white thinking) is an impediment to that process.
The current entrepreneurial drumbeat is to do what feels good, fill your head with inspirational quotes, be happy, and everything will work out fine. Focus on your strengths and ignore your weaknesses. If it sounds positive, then it must be good. Sweep those negative thoughts under the rug. That sort of utopian thinking isn’t just nonsense; it’s destructive.
Every successful executive and business leader got there the same way: by working hard in a growth industry, gaining experience, building their network, and when the opportunity arose, delivering the goods. That may not be the only way, but it’s certainly not the way everyone talks about these days.
Summing-up: If you want to be successful, learn to challenge conventional wisdom and question your own beliefs. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. And when it comes to making important decisions, learn to look at things from different perspectives. If you want to make it in a complex world, you have to think critically.