Who Taught You How To Think?

Don’t worry; there are no right or wrong answers and no score.

The Test: Answer Yes or No.

_____ 1. Have you ever had thoughts that were not totally rational?

_____ 2. Have you ever had unrealistic fantasies about the future?

_____ 3. Have you ever made up your mind and then changed it?

_____ 4.  Have you ever said, “I don’t know” out loud?

_____ 5. Have you ever been taught any of these skills in school?

I have asked these questions enough to know that most people answer, “yes” to the first four questions and “no” to the last. I did; did you? Although we were not taught these skills in school, we all seem to have them, which means that either they are innate skills or we learned them without being taught. Actually these skills are now being taught today in adult workshops and executive training programs and even in some schools.

To me the first four questions represent the thinking skills that expand the capacity of your mind, increase your ability to make creative decisions and promote the use of both sides of your brain. They contribute to a more open-minded and inclusive way of seeing things (worldview). 

For example, having thoughts that are not totally rational involves intuition, creativity, imagination, visionary thinking, flexibility — parts of the right brain and now called “emotional intelligence”.

Having unrealistic fantasies about the future is also receiving more respect because of the Positive Psychology movement and research on the benefits of optimism.

Changing our minds and saying I don’t know are necessary skills if we want to learn, grow and keep up-to-date in a rapidly changing future environment.

We must continually unlearn much of what we have learned,

and learn to learn what we have not been taught. R. D. Laing


For those of you who answered these questions the way I predicted, I recommend you take advantage of your malleable mind. However, you shouldn’t run for political office. Changing your mind, saying no out loud, having intuitive, creative thoughts and unrealistic optimism about the future will not get you elected. We want politicians to be decisive, left-brain, unimaginative, and invariable thinkers. And that is what we usually get.


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2 Responses to THE THINKING TEST

  1. John Krumboltz says:

    I just co-authored a new book entitled Fail Fast, Fail Often. It contains some of the radical ideas you are advocating. Oprah choose it as her favorite book for 2014. The big idea is that you have to DO SOMETHING to succeed. And you learn from failing and from everything else you DO. But if you DO nothing, you learn nothing. John

  2. Colleen says:

    Great post HB. Thank you for validating these skills this way. And great news John – your new book sounds fabulous.

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