Thinking Your Way to Success
Bill Cottringer

“I want to know all God’s thoughts; all the rest are just details.” ~Albert Einstein.

In today’s Information Age, quality thinking is the success currency of choice. Have you thought about the quality of your own thinking lately? I challenge you to consider going through this quality thinking checklist of questions for a self-evaluation and then learn what you can from the information in this article to make needed improvements. By doing so, you will greatly improve you success rates in what you are trying to do in life, work and relationships.

1. Do you tend to use too little or try to gather too much information before making a decision and acting?

Quality thinking requires sensitivity to a point of no return—noticing it before it comes and goes. At some point you have to realize when you have just the right amount of information to best decide or act on, given realistic time constraints regarding the importance and urgency of what you are trying to do. In the end, it is all a leap of faith in the sources of information you trust most.

2. Do you pause enough to question the quality of your thinking?

Stopping to think about thinking (meta-thinking) is probably the only way to improve faulty thinking. This is because you have to notice what you have been failing to notice all along, to correct it. The required degree of open-mindedness is what starts these thinking in-course corrections.

3. Are you keenly aware of your brain’s cognitive biases that keep you from finding the truth?

It is now common knowledge that the brain is not hard-wired to find the truth. It is more of an efficiency machine than an effectiveness one—often reaching premature closure on a complicated issue for convenience sake. There are many natural occurring “brain leaks” that hide the truth, such as the influences even passive observation has on a situation, which require awareness to control. Start looking for these truth-hiders.

4. Can you shift paradigms easily and frequently to see all possible perspectives, or do you tend to allow yourself get stuck in half-truths, preferring one side over another?

The ability to shift major paradigms (seeing the world as flat vs. round and viewing time as mechanical and static vs. fluid, may be a function of a combination of age, intelligence and creativity. But there is no doubt, that once you start using this skill, the alternatives and solutions to problems increase exponentially and are virtually limitless. This goes for the perennial conundrum of free will vs. destiny.

5. Do you realize that what you see as being true is mostly related to where you are doing the looking in time and place?

If you question the validity or utility of this important insight, just take inventory of past situations and how you defined important things like love, truth, honesty, good communication, intelligence, ethics, morality and so on. And think of how astronauts change their perspective on spirituality, once having a view of earth from outer space. The good thing about this insight is that if you don’t like what you see, all you have to do is move your viewpoint.

6. How flexible and tolerant are you in ambiguous situations involving tentative and evolving truths?

I think most deep thinkers would agree that the truth of something which is usually evolving. That is except for the few absolute truths you are willing to die for. The suggestion here is to identify those absolute truths that you shouldn’t have to give up under any circumstances and learn to be more comfortable and tolerant for the ambiguity of uncertainty (which is ironically certain).

7. How well do you communicate what you think is true, clearly, simply and with high impact?

If quality thinking is the first currency of choice in the Information Age, you can’t ever get any cash value from it without good communication. Then your quality thinking has to reverberate back to help you keep improving your communication from improved thinking. This is a positive vicious circle to everywhere and without either, you are stuck in the nowhere zone. The resulting life of quiet desperation is not any way to live.

8. Do you like to avoid thinking about things like paradoxes and conflicts, or do you like confronting these things head-on?

Such mental puzzles can draw brain blanks and easily make you feel like quitting or running. But the whole purpose of paradoxes and conflicts is to force you to complete the one common purpose we all have in life—to learn, grow and improve in our uncovering and carrying out our assigned purpose of planting, cultivating and harvesting the joys we are dedicated to.

9. Which side of complexity of the information overload are you on—the simple on this side or the simple on the other side or somewhere in between?

If you are on the wrong side of complexity you are probably a little short on critical considerations; but if you are on the other side, your simple maybe of the profound variety. But this is all a natural evolutionary process that we often see in artists, where there best work lies in the simple just on the other side of complexity. The complexity is where real quality thinking needs to be available to get you through to the other side. Unfortunately this is most often where many folks get stuck.

10. How open-minded are you about what you think you know for sure vs. to the possibility that it all may be mostly nonsense?

Accepting this possibility, may be the best way for us to deal with the information overload to clear some space in our heads to learn what is most important, valuable, and useful to us for our purpose at hand, which of course changes with our location in time and place. What we do know from painful experience is that a closed mind is the enemy of change and since change is inevitable and to be embraced rather than rejected, an open mind is the widest door to quality thinking

Author's Bio: 

William Cottringer, Ph.D. is Executive Vice-President for Employee Relations for Puget Sound Security, Inc. in Bellevue, WA, along with his hobbies in being a Sport Psychologist, Business Success Coach, Photographer and Writer living in the mountains and rivers of North Bend. He is author of several business and self-development books, including, “You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too” (Executive Excellence), “The Bow-Wow Secrets” (Wisdom Tree), and “Do What Matters Most” and “P” Point Management” (Atlantic Book Publishers), “Reality Repair” (Global Vision Press), and Reality Repair Rx (Authorsden). Bill can be reached for comments or questions at (425) 454-5011 or