We have been thinking about how vital it is to grow our leadership, and we discovered we need to develop new skills and sharpen other ones in order to flourish. That’s fairly reasonable and logical. But there’s another element to growing your leadership that is so simple it is overlooked. To grow your leadership, you have to THINK. John Maxwell says, “Thinking is hard work; that’s why so few do it.” Thomas Edison said, “Five percent of the people think; ten percent of the people think they think; and the other eighty-five percent would rather die than think.” I’m not sure about the exact nature of those stats, but Thomas Edison was so brilliant, I will assume he was at least very nearly correct!
Our natural course as humans is to take preconceived notions that have been handed to us by other people and assume they are facts. These “facts” are so engrained in our subconscious minds that we make assumptions on often old, tired, and untrue “knowledge,” and we don’t even realize we are making assumptions. We certainly don’t consider that we are working with flawed information. We don’t make progress because we are mired in the mistakes of the past.
Thomas Edison distinguished himself and changed our world because he THOUGHT. He learned to think, critically dissecting the information he had received to make sure it was complete. In his 84 years, Thomas Edison acquired a record number of 1,093 patents (singly or jointly) and was the driving force behind such innovations as the phonograph, the incandescent light bulb, and one of the earliest motion-picture cameras. He also created the world’s first industrial research laboratory. He invented the electric pen and copying system, improved the telephone, and improved the stock ticker. The entire world is lit up today because he learned to THINK. He learned to think critically, examine what he considered to be true, and see if there was new or different information that could lead to a new conclusion.
Critical thinking is indispensable to the skills necessary to become a master leader. When you sharpen your skills of effective critical thinking and utilize those abilities in everything you do, you will see your accuracy in making personal and professional decisions increase, and the result will be leadership success. Next, we will look a little further at critical thinking and how to intentionally work on it.