Last week, I had the good fortune of speaking at a conference on critical thinking and the impact that it can have in business and your life. Some of you may have read one or more of my “Enhanced” series of books, and I spend quite a bit of time talking about critical, purposeful thought. In fact, I would argue that since the age of about 14 years old and then even more aggressively at age 20, I have sought out to learn how people become “smart.”
To be clear, I didn’t set out to “get smarter” or to “know things,” I sought out to learn how to think about things I didn’t know. As it turns out, what I found is that there are few people who are “naturally smart” and intelligence not only is something that can be obtained, but it is also a skill that could be taught. Lucky for me, because I was not “naturally smart,” but I was naturally curious, and this disposition provided me with more opportunities to learn than any other single thing in my life.
Intelligence is the ability to acquire knowledge and skills and apply them to manipulate one’s environment. I like this definition, and I recently found out that some people take exception to the thought that you could use your intelligence to manipulate, but manipulation is not always a negative thing. Especially if the thing you are manipulating is positive for you and those around you. Does this mean that you should be careful with what you believe should be manipulated? You bet! And, if your intentions are not in alignment with what the Holy Spirit or the Universe wants for you and those around you, not only is it difficult to achieve a higher state of thought, but the outcomes are also rarely, if ever, lasting.
Critical Thinking is defined as an intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action. Now, that is a mouthful, and the thing I think we should point out is that both Intelligence and Critical Thinking speak of ACTION and SKILL! Conclusion? Intelligence takes work! And sometimes the work is to decide not to think with your own unique personal orthodoxy, but with the orthodoxy of others.
Diversity of thought is not just recommended to become a critical thinker; I believe it is required. If you only see things from your own context or personal orthodoxy, and never look at it from the point of view of someone of a different mindset, then you are practicing the laziest form of thought.