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10 Thinking Strategies that Change Everything

Sometimes, it’s not just what you think about but how you think about it that determines what comes out of it. Different situations call for different strategies of thinking to help us navigate through it effectively. Below are 8 types of thinking and how to harness them for better productivity:

  • 1. Big-Picture Thinking
  • 2. Focussed Thinking
  • 3. Creative Thinking
  • 4. Realistic Thinking
  • 5. Strategic Thinking
  • 6. Possibility Thinking
  • 7. Reflective Thinking
  • 8. Popular Thinking
  • 9. Unselfish Thinking
  • 10. Buttom-Line Thinking

1. Cultivate Big-Picture Thinking

When going through a tough period, it is comforting to remind ourselves that it is only for a while right? That’s big-picture thinking. It brings wholeness and maturity into a person’s outlook; expanding not only what they can see but what they can do as well. Some common qualities of big-picture thinkers is that they learn continually, listen intentionally, look expansively, and live completely. Big-picture thinking has its benefits, these include:

  • It gives you a leaders mindset.
  • It keeps you on target.
  • Helps you see what others don’t see.
  • Promotes teamwork.
  • Helps you chart uncharted territories.

2. Engage in Focussed Thinking

He did each thing as if he did nothing else

Charles Dickens

To be able to concentrate for a considerable period of time is essential for difficult achievement. Robert Lynd observed that knowledge is power only if a man knows what facts are not to bother about. Focussed thinking removes distractions and mental clutter so you can think on the issue at hand with clarity. It pulls all your energy towards your desired goal, gives your idea time to develop and brings clarity to the target. Focussed thinking will take us to the next level as no one ever achieved greatness by being a generalist. You can’t hone a skill by diluting attention to its development. The only way to get to the next level is to focus. Whether your goal is to improve your craft, sharpen your business plan or solve personal problems. Harry Overstreet once said: “The immature mind hops from one thing to another, the mature mind seeks to follow through”.

3. Harness Creative Thinking

The joy is in creating not in maintaining

Vince Lombardi.

Creativity is pure gold no matter what you do for a living. It is the most valuable resource to bring to a firm even more valuable than your output. Despise the importance of this type of thinking, only very few people seem to possess the skill in abundance. The happy truth is that if you’re not as creative as you would like to be, you can change that. You see, creative thinking isn’t necessarily original thinking. Most often creative thinking is a composite of varied other thoughts discovered along the way. Even the greatest artists whom you consider original learnt from their masters and modelled their work on that, with a touch of originality from their own ideas. To become more creative, learn more from the greats and practise often, explore options, embrace ambiguity, connect the unconnected and go against the grain. Don’t let the ideas that don’t work keep you from coming up with those that will. Creative thinking is hard work but it sure has some good benefits:

4. Employ Realistic Thinking

The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality.

Max DePree

Reality is the difference between what we wish for and what is. It is quite common to refrain from realistic thinking on the ground that it’s too negative and may interfere with our creative thinking. That’s not true. The truth however is that we have to engage in realistic thinking to be able to solve problems and learn from mistakes. If you are a more optimistic person by nature, realistic thinking may not come naturally but here are a few reasons to cultivate it:

To develop realistic thinking you can start by:

5. Utilise Strategic Thinking

Most people spend more time planning their summer vacation than planning their lives.


Strategic thinking involves planning. Some people plan their lives one day at a time, others weeks and some others monthly. However you choose to, the important thing is to plan because there can’t be any accomplishment of much without planning. Strategic thinking helps us become more efficient, maximises our strengths, and helps us find the most direct path towards achieving any objective. Here are a few benefits of strategic thinking:

To effectively harness strategic thinking, it always helps to breakdown the issue; ask why before how, identify the main objectives, review your responses and develop your plan. With the right people in the right place, execute your plan and repeat.

6. Explore Possibility Thinking

Nothing is so embarrassing as watching someone do something you said couldn’t be done.

Sam Ewing

People who embrace possibility thinking are capable of accomplishing the impossible because they believe in solutions. A few benefits of this type of thinking include:

To harness the energy locked in possiblity thinking, we need to stop focussing on impossibilities, stay away from experts as they can sometimes be more discouraging than encouraging. We should also look for possibilities in every situation, dream a little bigger and always question the status quo.

7. Learn from Reflective Thinking.

To doubt everything or to believe everything are two equally convenient solutions, both dispense with the necessity of reflection

Jules Pioncar

The pace of the modern society we live in does not encourage reflective thinking. Reflective thinking helps us learn from our successes as well as mistakes, discover what we should repeat, and determine what we should change. By mentally visiting past situations, we can think with greater understanding. By putting some perspective to our thoughts, it helps give emotional integrity to our thought life, increasing our confidence in decision making and clarifying the big picture. It takes a good experience and makes it a valuable one. We can harness reflective thinking by:

8. Question Popular Thinking.

The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones.

John Keynes

Many of the sound ideas that have birthed success go against popular thinking. If you value popularity over good thinking then your potential to learn will be greatly diminished. The pitfalls of popular thinking include……

…to be continued


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