The Power Of Critical ThinkingThe Power Of Critical Thinking

"The only difference between a rut and a grave ... is in their dimensions." - Ellen Glasgow

As Director of Research and Professional Development at the Center for Critical Thinking and Chair of the National Council for Excellence in Critical Thinking, Dr. Richard Paul defines critical thinking as thinking about your thinking while you're thinking in order to make your thinking better. He goes on to say that critical thinking is not just thinking but thinking which entails self-improvement.

People get into ruts personally and professionally. Going through the motions becomes standard operating procedure and yet at the same time people complain about the lack of results, and they wish for more money or different outcomes. The ability to think critically is a powerful human ability and yet many have let their capacity for critical thinking diminish. In order to be the best 'you' can be and in order to accomplish everything you wish to accomplish, you need to embrace the process of critical thinking. One of the most powerful ways to improve is to question and rethink everything. Thinking just to think goes nowhere. Developing a skill of critical thinking allows us to ask questions to determine where our thinking goes and what results can be achieved. The field of Physics would not exist if Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein did not continue to ask critical questions on what was possible. Every advancement in cancer treatments has taken place because doctors keep asking the next purposeful question in order to find cures. The world is thinking differently about energy and conservation of the planet because people keep posing questions like 'what if?'

Improved results, positive progress, and continuous improvement require questions not answers. Questions uncover problems, suggest multiple solutions, and get to the root cause quickly. So, what kind of questions spur critical thinking?

• Deep questions: help us find root cause and complexity
• Purpose questions: help us to understand the objective
• Information questions: help us make sure our source of information and the information are quality
• Interpretation questions: help us to organize information
• Assumptive questions: help us to see what we might be taking for granted
• Implication questions: help us see where our thinking is going
• Point of view questions: help understand our point of view more clearly and be accepting of differing point of view
• Relevance questions: help us to see what is really relevant to the situation
• Accuracy questions: help us make sure we are dealing with information that is correct
• Precision questions: help to have a laser focus
• Consistency questions: help ferret out inconsistencies
• Logic questions: help us consider how all the pieces fit together and everything makes sense

In the pursuit of results and accomplishment we are all too often our biggest enemy. We accept and get very comfortable with status quo. We often accept, without question, what corporations, organizations, and the media tell us. If you want to take your personal and professional results to another level then you need to start thinking about thinking with the objective of creating the best 'you' possible. Doing the same things over and over again will not create different or better results. However, by using the process of critical thinking you will uncover solutions and actions that will never be revealed by others or the status quo.
by Tammy AS Kohl
References and Bibliography
Tammy A.S. Kohl is President of Resource Associates Corporation. For over 30 years, RAC has specialized in business and management consulting, strategic planning, leadership development, executive coaching and youth leadership. For more information visit
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