One of the biggest problems we have today is most of us have stopped thinking for ourselves. If I have any regret about my early days of schooling it is about one thing. Growing up, I was taught what to think but not how to think. Memorize these tables or formulas and you will be set for life. Thinking for yourself is easier to say than do when no one taught you how to be curious or inquisitive.
- 2% of people think.
- 3% of people think they think.
- 95% of people would rather die than think.
One by-product about not thinking for ourselves is that we become very gullible when a phone rings and it is a con artist who pretends to be your grandson who needs money to get out of jail on the other side of the country. This happened to my mother just a few weeks ago. Apparently my son was in Montreal and hit hard times, needed money to get back home. Good for my mom she had no way of sending money so she brushed him off and told him to call back. Then she called me. I had just had lunch with my son the day before so I knew this was a scam, but it rattled my mom a great deal. We are in deep weeds if we don't think!
How else will we get ripped off? Consider the Facebook post I saw a while ago: "Don't believe everything you read on the internet. Signed, Abraham Lincoln." Stop for a moment and think about what you just read... What would happen if every one of us began to exercise our minds and expand our thinking, and imagined the possibilities that could exist? What cures of diseases could we find? What inventions would be created? Would we be flying around in the air like George Jetson? I really believe the potential is just beyond us but we have to cultivate a curious mind willing to reach for new frontiers.
6 Ways to Develop an Inquiring Mind
1. Convince yourself that you can be curious.
You and I need permission to grow the thinking muscle. Our mind is so powerful and apparently the average person uses very little of its potential. Every one of us has the capacity to learn how to become like a child again uttering one-word sentences, "Why?" How about we get annoying again?
2. Set your intention on learning something new each day.
Where you set your intention to learn something you will more often than not learn something. If you don't want to learn something new, you typically don't learn something new. Have you ever looked to buy a new car and you saw a red Mustang that you liked? How many red cars - and yes red Mustangs - do you find? Lots! Why? Now you are looking for them.
3. Start asking "Why?" all the time.
Why do they call the time frame when toddlers reach two years of age, the terrible twos? If you don't know the answer to that then you have not experienced this. Because they are starting to learn and they are obsessed with finding out "why" everything works the way it does. I never want to stop asking why. It makes life an adventure.
4. Each day, take time to stop and think and reflect.
I know what you're thinking even before you say it - "I'm to busy to think." We are too busy not to think. How many things do you and I do each day that requires little or any thinking at all? We keep loosing our keys, rather than stopping and thinking about where would be a good place to always put them so you don't have to look for them. I am not so good at this, but I am making every effort to stop for a few minutes each day to review who I was with, what we discussed and how I will do things differently.
5. Get past your past - yesterday ended last night.
Don't let failures of yesteryear hinder you from trying to stretch your thinking muscle today. When I was in public school my grades were C's with an A sprinkled in from gym. In college I got B's. In graduate school I got all A's. If I can do this anyone can. Forget your past and set out to grow into greatness.
6. Look at life as an adventure - seize every moment.
All you have is today. Yesterday is gone, tomorrow is not here yet. When you learn something new every day, life can be such a ride. May I encourage you not to short change yourself and your life. Get curious. Left to ourselves we never get around to growing. If you want to start the learning journey, drop me an email and start stretching the curiosity muscle. Start a Mastermind group or get some coaching to find the clarity and the passion you need.
"The race will go to the curious, the slightly mad, and those with an insatiable passion for learning and dare deviltry." Tom Peters
Bob Claxton is President of Robert J. Claxton & Associates in Edmonton Alberta Canada. Bob works with small and medium sized companies developing teams and training leaders. While working with teams over the past 30 years he "Found the I in Team." Please connect with Bob at his website or follow him on Twitter: robertjclaxton.