Thinking Critically

Thinking Critically

There is a trick to life. The idea is it’s easier to prevent trouble, then have to explain it, fix it, and make up for it afterward. I’m going to try to keep away from quoting some corny things like an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Instead, we will talk about something that everyone can learn and do.

As you learn something, you start to learn the problems and preventions which will go on around it. We call this common sense. Because common sense is in such a small supply these days, we also have a fancier word for it, critical thinking. If you work on something for two years, you start to grow a natural form of critical thinking for the things with which you are working.

Eighty percent of four-year college graduates do not work in their major studies. Yet, many jobs demand a bachelors degree. This is because these graduates have spent four years learning and understanding critical thinking. The fact that they graduated proves they have a good handle on the concept.

As a line supervisor in contract manufacturing, I didn’t have a bachelors degree, I had over 20+ Years in the Air Force and an Associates in Applied Science degree in electronic systems technology. One thing for sure, I understood and used applied critical thinking principles. I could not have done the job without those principles.

Whatever you use as your guiding rules, you need to have significant respect for critical thinking. Everything that is handed to you needs to be looked over. You need to know what skills are required to complete the task, what time is involved, and are the people working on it skilled enough to accomplish the work properly? You need to sit down and figure out exactly what could go wrong, and what safety precautions should you put in place to prevent errors.

If you take the time upfront, you do not have to spend extra time on the backend of the project trying to figure out what went wrong. Additional time will not have to be paid for reworking errors. You won’t stand in fear of losing a customer over poor workmanship. You will be able to move onto the next project, and both you and your team will be viewed as people who get things done correctly.

Thank you for being with me today. I hope to be with you again tomorrow.

Afterward

The last few years I’ve written about many things. Some things that are easy and will take a few minutes, such as drinking water to stay hydrated. Some suggestions, such as mapping your future, could take years or more to see the fruit of your labors. And sometimes I know that we all ask a similar question along the way, “why am I doing this?”

It reminds me of an old saying about alligators and swamp water. And the real understanding of what you did and why is rarely appreciated until you are at a point where you can turn around and look at what you have done. Until that point, you had an idea, a vision of what your actions would accomplish, and how it would help you in the long run.

I am not good at cleaning. I can hide things and mask odors, and I am noted for the idea of sweeping things under the rug. Being tired of this, and wanting the place to look better, I hired a team to come in for a day and help us out. They spent four hours with us cleaning everything from the walls to the most minute details such as the crumbs at the bottom of the toaster oven. And in those four hours, they worked a miracle to put the house back to where it belonged.

Before they came, I question myself on why I was bringing them in. I ran over the positives and negatives in my head and was genuinely unsure about what the results might look like. When all was completed, it looked as though my old house was taken away and a brand new look-alike was brought in to replace it. Everything was better than clean and had a pleasant smell that reminded me of my mom’s house.

All I can tell you is to put your critical thinking skills to work. Instead of fearing the unknown or the yet to be seen, add up the pros and cons. Never use fear or blind trust because neither is totally correct. Figure out what you really need and look for a solution you can accept. Then move forward.

One more critical tip. When you bring in the pros, make sure they have what they need, including the information that you need to get them. Be kind to them and thank them for helping you, then get out of their way and let them do their best.

Thank you for being with me today. I hope to be with you again tomorrow.

The Tone in Our Tune

America’s always had a propensity towards violence. I believe it is a byproduct of how we came into being as a nation. We fought for our independence, and then we fought our way across the continent, from east to west, in the move to carve out this great nation. With little regret or remorse, we did what we had to do to make it happen.

In our youth, passions run high. We work towards the change we seek with the belief that nothing can stand in our way. As we age, we hopefully become wiser. With age comes critical thinking and the ability to look past the moment and understand the longer-term outcome of actions. And probably, we pass this ability on to our young.

When our rhetoric as a nation grows in passion without giving understanding to critical thinking and long-term effects, we find ourselves having problems as a community. We need to stop for a moment and consider what we are doing, and the outcome our actions could cause. Are we considering what we say? And, does what we say lead others to a favorable long-term result?

We do not have to live in a pressure cooker of violence. We can turn down the steam. All we need do is turn ourselves away from the heated rhetoric. It does not take everybody doing it at once, at the same time; it only takes one or two people to start. The first time you change the rhetoric from hot to cool you may not get a positive reaction. Yet the harder the response, the better the indication you’re on the right track. Maintain your Calmness and others will pick up the change in direction. As more people turn from heated rhetoric to calming clear thinking, the pressure cooker will lose steam, and worst destruction can be averted.

Think of this the next time you’re about to produce a wisecrack or a belittlement. There is always somebody watching and somebody listening no matter how private a moment you think you have. You hold the ratchet in your hand. Are you going to ratchet up or ratchet down the rhetoric?

Thank you for being with me today. I hope to be with you again tomorrow.