Critical thinking is the ability to objectively analyze an issue and arrive at a conclusion that’s supported by evidence. Although critical thinking is absolutely necessary for achieving any level of success in business, this fundamental skill isn’t taught in school.
Critical thinkers take an issue and break it down into its smallest components, analyzing an issue from every angle. Strong critical thinking skills can put you on the path to achieving everything you’ve ever desired. They can help you rid your mind of limiting ideas that you’ve accumulated throughout your life.
Check out these tips for how to sharpen your critical thinking skills:
1. Realize that many of your thoughts aren’t your own – How many thoughts do you have rolling around in your head that came from others? As you grew up, you absorbed the ideas of your elders. You also learned cultural norms to avoid conflict and fit in.
- Think back to when you were a child. Was there a family member who had a habit of making disparaging remarks about life and everyone in it? There’s a good chance that person’s thoughts are still echoing in your subconscious, even today.
- Scientists call these contagious ideas “memes.” Memes have the power to travel from person to person through verbal communication.
- Consider racism. Numerous studies have shown that children under the age of three are completely accepting of each other. Racism is a learned behavior, a meme.
- With the power of critical thinking, you can free your mind of any memes that no longer serve you. Take stock of your mental inventory and dispose of ideas or beliefs that are negative or harmful. Some of those thoughts have the potential to sabotage you.
2. Empower yourself by analyzing challenging issues – Critical thinking gives you the ability to identify and understand the logical connections between concepts, detect faulty reasoning, systematically solve issues, and test arguments.
- A toddler who places his hand on a hot stove will learn to stay clear of stoves. But that same child probably won’t infer that they ought to also avoid the hot toaster. The toddler lacks the knowledge and ability to draw inferences from his experiences beyond what is immediately apparent.
- Critical thinking allows you to come to conclusions about the world around you and to solve conflicts that aren’t necessarily related to one another.
3. Cultivating critical thinking can free you from superstitions that may be holding you back – As silly as it sounds, many of us still believe the superstitions we hear about as children. However, once you learn how to think critically, you’ll figure out that these stories are illogical.
- Have you ever avoided stepping on a crack in the sidewalk, crossing the path of a black cat, or walking under a ladder for fear of bad luck? Take issues apart to get at their inner workings.
- Remember that your imagination is capable of conjuring up any scenario, and fear has a tendency to make an event seem more likely than it really is.
Take stock of your fears, and get your hands on the cold, hard facts whenever possible. Are you afraid of flying? If so, it’s helpful to consider that you have a 1 in 11 million chance of being involved in a plane crash. Irrational fears are sometimes beyond a person’s ability to rationalize them. Learn how to think critically and you’ll find that life makes a lot more sense.