Welcome to another Zoe Listicles, where every week, I will summarize a few ideas that will help you live greater, love better and laugh more.
This week, I would like to specifically share 6 ideas that will help you become a creative thinker and a wiser decision maker.
Creative thinking is an essential life skill that will help you solve most of your life problems or even make it non-existent…
Let’s get into it!
- Cultivate a beginner’s mind: Like what the monk who sold his Ferrari said, “You can’t learn anything if you don’t empty yourself.”
Most of us face a problem or situation with a preconceived idea of how to solve it. We may get this idea from books, past experience or some random guy on the internet (le. me). But the problem is, these ideas might not be relevant to the situation you are facing right at this moment.
Hence, the best course of action to take when you face a new problem is to drop your preconceived notion and focus intensely on the present moment. Or in other words, see your problems with a beginner’s mind.
- Explore your options: According Greg McKeown, author of the book Essentialism, the first thing you should do when you face a new situation is to explore your options. Take some time to explore all the available options and then use your wisdom to discern what matters and what doesn’t.
Of course living in the age of unlimited, you need to be very strict with your exploration time. Once the exploration stage is over, it’s over. Lest, you will become a ‘paradox of choice’ victim (a person who becomes passive because there are too many good options out there).
- Get a thinking mentor: According to Shane Snow, author of the book Smartcuts, mentor will help you short circuit your learning process and help you achieve mastery.
So today, take some time to figure out what skill do you want to get better at. Then think of someone in your life who you think is an expert in that particular field. He or she doesn’t have to be world class, but he or she needs to be much better than you. Then, try to emulate their thinking process, get to know them personally and offer to help them accomplish something. Your goal here is not free mentorship, but relationship.
You want to spend time with them and figure out their thinking process.
- Bias to action: A love of learning and ideas should not be an end to itself. In a classic book titled “Letters from a Self Made Merchant to His Son”, George Horace Lorimer warned that:
“Some men learn all they know from books; other from life; both kinds are narrow. The first are all theory; the second are all practice. It’s the fellow who knows enough about practice to test his theories for blow holes that give the world a shove ahead, and finds a fair margin of profit shoving it.”
The point is to develop a bias to action, when you come to grasp a fascinating idea, don’t just keep it, try to practice it. Find out ways you can apply it in your life in small doses and see if it works. Turn your life into a personal development laboratory.
- Use questions to understand the stakeholders’ point of view: most of the time, you are not making a decision alone. There will be various stakeholders that are forming the decision with you and they all usually have competing interests.
To get a fuller picture, you want to put yourself in the shoes of various stakeholders and try to understand their motives, reasoning and POV. Fight your desire to argue your points, and ask good questions. Seek first to understand their point of views and what they want.
After you have done so, tailor your points so that it will address the other stakeholders’ concerns. This might not work if the other stakeholders have different interest from you, but nevertheless, it will make your argument more persuasive.
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