How you think is rarely discussed. What to think, however, is everywhere. Wherever you go there is someone offering their opinions and on what to think. Self-help books, blogs (like this one), talk shows, celebrity Twitter feeds, news and media outlets, and more. But what about the process of thinking? What should we think about that?
In his short and engaging book, John Braddock writes about this very topic from his perspective as a real-life spy. The book (which you can read for free with Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program) is called, A Spy’s Guide to Thinking, and is a fascinating read. John (I doubt that’s his real name) highlights something that I found very helpful and applicable in each of the 7 key areas of life that we discuss here each week in my blog.
Here is how John describes how we think and how we can do it better once we know and understand this process.
How We Think
John labeled this process as D-A-D-A. It stands for Data-Analysis-Decision-Action. Let’s briefly look at this process and how it can help you.
DATA: The first step in the process of how we think is to gather data. We do this in many ways, primarily using our 5 senses – touch, taste, smell, hear, and see.
ANALYSIS: As we gather data, the goal is that it takes us somewhere. We don’t think just to think. The goal, then, of analysis is to lead to the next step in the process; which is to make a decision.
DECISION: After we have gathered our data it is instantly analyzed and our brain begins working to sort out the good from the bad and relevant from the irrelevant. This is where so much can wrong. Our decision-making process determines the direction on the last, and arguably, the most important step.
ACTION: The goal of thinking is to get us to this point: Action. If it doesn’t, then why think at all? It makes no sense to only think. At least, I don’t think it does.
So now that we see the basis for how we think, let’s move on to the more important question: How do we take this information and learn to think better?
To answer this, we must start with the end in mind. The end goal of thinking is action. We are looking to act on what we have gathered, analyzed, and decided upon. But if action is the goal, then the first three steps of the process are the most critical.
Let’s start with step 1.
Step 1. What’s at stake in the thinking process if the data we collect is wrong, incomplete, or insufficient? When this happens the next steps in the process will not lead us to the right conclusions or actions. So we must first learn to carefully collect our data from the right sources. We must seek out information is true.
Step 2. Similarly, we find ourselves going off-course in life because we not only collect the wrong information but we never learn to properly analyze or filter what we have taken in. In this important step of the process, we must learn to do a better job of gathering the right data, filtering it, and combining it with what we already have learned. In doing this, we will learn to think more clearly and it will help us in step #3.
Step 3. Making the right or the wise decision is determined by our ability to do Steps #1 & #2 better. Better decisions are the result of a more careful process. That’s why learning this information is so important in every area of your life. If we fail to make the wisest decisions possible, it will ruin our end goal of step #4.
Step 4. Ultimately, all of life is about taking doing what’s right, the right way. Whether that is in your marriage or with your money, each key area of life depends on your ability to act wisely. Actions determine directions and directions determine destinies. All of which depend on learning the process of how we think and learning how to do it better.
Which part of the thinking process do you feel is the most important?
Tag me on Twitter and let me know. Use hashtag #think.