Have you ever been in a room full of people when everyone in the crowd had overlooked something as trivial as the sign telling them that the group meeting had been canceled or moved to another location? No big deal right? We all do this on occasion. Other times, we walk into a new situation and ask a question about something so blatantly obvious that the person we ask just stares at the object in front of both of us with dismay. We all do this at times, but often as social beings, many people will rely on letting others do the thinking for them.
My son (also an incisive thinker) asked me the other day why the school counselor had called him into the office individually to explain why he should try to stop thinking. He asked me in a confused voice, “Why would someone determine that it was bad to think?” He explained that the counselor told him that his teachers were expressing that he was asking too many questions and wanting answers to things that he didn’t need to know. She told him it would be much easier for him socially, if he just tried to stop thinking. She expressed that it would make him more like other kids, and therefore he would fit in better.
After working continuously with the top percentile of people in the business world, one very similar theme resonates with every individual that falls into this category. Our music, movies, businesses, and media icons all fall into the category of breaking the molds. They all think about what is unique; new ways to put things together, and how things interrelate. They are all the performers that are constantly thinking in new ways about any situations they find themselves in. So if our best of the best are always thinking, why do so many of us value not thinking? Why do we consciously, as a society, promote the practice of praising those who do not think as something we should strive for?
These are the things which are holding our youth back. Teachers are training them to accept value in not thinking for themselves. This process gives them the impression that asking questions should be reduced or just stopped. We should not provide resistance to our natural desire for answers with the obtuse blockage that answers should not be pursued. The constant stimulus response that pursuing an answer results in constant resistance that thinking should be stopped in general, is entirely counterproductive to the success of our offspring. The areas of the world that downplay the value of thinking to their children will undoubtedly fall behind; while the areas that promote thinking will foster the next generation of the top percentile of the population.
Instead of desiring to not think and resolving that such a practice will make you fit in or be more socially adapted to everyone else; practice what the top percentage of most successful people do, and spend time to think about the things around us. I titled this post ‘20 seconds of thought will make you a millionaire’ not because thinking for 20 seconds once in your life is what it takes. But that spending 20 seconds to contemplate the things around us on a regular basis each time we enter a location, situation, or social setting is what I see as a trait most often in such elite populations.
In short, do not value being the person that does not think. Changing your perspective to value the process of thinking about the things around us before we react will start us on this path. It is a practice that starts when we are young and can be trained out of or into us. If we value stopping what we are thinking on a repeated basis we will eventually train ourselves to stop thinking. If we do the opposite and value in ourselves and those around us the learned behavior of thinking, this will also be trained into ourselves and our next generation.
Just like positive thinking drives us to receive positive opportunities and events in our lives; valuing thought and promoting thinking instead of trying to turn our brains off will give us the tools that will enable us to notice and act on the positive opportunities as they enter our lives. Negative mindsets and stopping thoughts go hand in hand, and will both lead to negative outcomes.
I would love to hear your ideas about either where people repeatedly don’t think but should, or how spending 20 seconds to think about something has benefited you in your life.