No matter what you do, the ability to think critically will serve you well.  Good critical thinking skills push you to think about things objectively and without bias and consider different perspectives. 

While critical thinking is an important skill, it’s not one that can be taught through an instruction manual. That’s why some leaders struggle in passing on critical thinking skills to other people. Some follow the, “You got it or you don’t” mentality when it comes to this area. 

Similarly to working out to get your muscles stronger, you can exercise your critical thinking in order to strengthen it for further success. 

Work through an idea outside of your preferred medium

We all have different learning styles – Visual, Kinesthetic (Touch), and Auditory. For example, let’s say you may love to learn by doing, touching, and trying it yourself. That’s probably how you like to think through problems and situations as well. 

Try expressing yourself, and your thought process in a medium you don’t normally fall into to help your critical thinking. Normally hands-on? Try drawing it out on a chart, writing it out, or capturing a brainstorming session. Forcing your brain to engage differently will help you look at situations in a different way. 

Put your idea through the kid test

People sometimes challenge a complicated idea or process that needs to be simplified by asking, “Could you explain this to a child and they understand you?” 

Challenge your thought process and communication by putting it through this simplicity lens. If you have a chance to share your thought or idea with a young person, even better. No doubt, they are going to give you some honest insight and poke holes in things that you didn’t think about before. 

For more help in this area check out show 254: Communicating the technical to non-technical people

Break into new content and experts

We all have our comfort areas when it comes to content, creators, and experts. I’ve interacted with many leaders that follow certain thought leaders almost religiously; Simon Senick fanatics, John Maxwell junkies, Cy Wakeman groupies. All three are great leaders, but it’s helpful to break out and get a different perspective. 

I always give a few book and podcast suggestions when people say Passing the Baton is their main source for leadership material. While I’m honored by the kind words, I think it’s healthy to get multiple perspectives on a topic and then let you make the idea your own. 

Learn from others

Ask five people how they approach the same problem and you may well get five different answers back. Most everyone takes their own unique path in some way in order to arrive at a conclusion. 

Use other people’s uniqueness to your advantage. Ask them about their thought process. How did they come to that conclusion? What else did they consider when thinking about the problem at hand? You’ll likely get a fresh idea and perspective that you can take with you for future use.  Expand your thought processes by understanding others. 

Play with brain teasers and ethical dilemma scenarios

Brain teasers are a great way to get the mind working on a problem from different angles. Running ethical dilemmas like the trolley dilemma and other scenarios that force you to think about both sides of an equation and the advantages and consequences of both sides. 

These ethical exercises don’t always have to be a serious trot down psychological either. Have fun with them. There is now even a party game wrapped around the concept. 

Stretch and grow your critical thinking skills through a number of working exercises. Growing this skill will serve you well in the moment as well as when you see that proverbial trolley coming down the tracks. 

Make a better tomorrow.