5 reasons critical thinking is dead

One of my all time favorite books is “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill.  It is an all time classic and to this day.  80 + years later, it is still one of the top selling books every year.

The word “think” is subtly layered into the title because Rich is the obvious eye-catcher that makes you want to learn more.  The author chose the word “think” for a reason. He makes the case in the book that you can’t grow, and you definitely can’t get rich, without learning how to think.

In today’s go go go society and emotionally driven society. Many people don’t invest the time to think before they respond, act, do, you name it.  I did say “invest’ for a reason, because you are making an investment when you slow down, think, make a plan, and then take action.

Critical thinking is by far one of the most unused skillsets in today’s culture.  The culture instead is constantly being told what to think, and then people decide whether they agree or disagree with whatever it is based on their biases. In most cases, depending on who said it is more important to them on whether they believe it or not. The test is who said it, not is it true or not.

There are many definitions of critical thinking.  The one I like that I believe is one of the better and clear ones is this:

Disciplined thinking that is clear, rational, open-minded, and informed by evidence. Now I would add a few additional adjectives to the definition, such as without emotion, and evidence based means: objectively clear facts that are substantiated.

Unfortunately we now live in a society and culture that has very little to no ability to think clearly for themselves. They haven’t learned how to critically think.  And I believe that these five reasons are driving the lack of critical thinking.

  1. Math:  I don’t know if it is because many people learn to hate math at an early age.  Is it because teachers are not very good at teaching it?  Or is it just hard and most people never try hard enough to be good at it? I am not going to solve this problem today. However, if you are unwilling to look at the numbers, the evidence that supports something or doesn’t support something, then critical thinking is out the window.
  2. Emotions: We now live in a world that is driven by feelings.  I am not sure when this started, but it is rampid and it is scary.  I have talked about this many times.  Any time we make very difficult decisions on emotions and not facts or reasoning, we typically are going to get ourselves in trouble.  A simple example of this is when people buy cars that they can’t afford.  Which is any car that you cant pay cash for, but I digress. They love the feeling that a new car provides to them and even if the math doesn’t make sense, they will try to rationalize a way to get the car becasue of how it makes them feel.
  3. Opinions:  Whoever is the loudest usually gets the most attention.  It has nothing to do with the credibility of the person.  It really comes down to who has the largest platform and can reach the most people.  The problem with opinions these days is too many times they are packaged as “real news”, when in reality they are not news based on facts or evidence.  It is usually based on subjective views of a given situation.
  4. Media: I was listening to two very mainstream personalities over the weekend who both have very successful podcasts and very large audiences. They were both talking about the fact that even though most would call them both center-left from a political standpoint.  That neither one of them can go on CNN or MSNBC, because they both had been on Fox News and most likely will disagree with the anchors they would speak with on CNN or MSNBC.  I am sure people may say the same thing about other news stations as well.  However, if you spend too much of your time watching one station only.  You are only getting one side of a situation.
  5. Fear: We are living in a moment of time right now that when someone holds a different viewpoint on something that is against the masses, and expresses that viewpoint, they could lose their job, their career or any other personal interests.  It’s the sad and harsh reality.  When active debate can’t occur, then ideas don’t get enhanced.  When there is fear of retribution to disagree, things don’t’ get better.  To solve complex problems everyone needs to be in the discussion.

In most companies the problems that exist are very complex and the leaders within the organization don’t have all the answers.  They need employees that have the ability to think critically and solve problems within the business.

Unfortunately, when we start school in kindergarten or first grade all the way through college in many cases.  You learn the answers to the test, take the test, pass and move on to the next. If you don’t know the answers, you can pull them up on google and most likely find them in a matter of seconds.

This is not the real world.  The real world requires a process of thinking about the problem.  Putting some of the best ideas on the table and working through them to see which ones can be pursued with limited financial resources and human capital.  This is the process and it must be followed. When it isn’t we will get what we have always gotten.

To your success and your future.

 

 

 

 

 

You have to make the decision now

You are what you are until you decide to become different than you are.  It is a hard thing to change but it can be done.  It just requires you to make a commitment and then do the work necessary to change your circumstances and your life.

I was recently speaking with a friend of mine about the current pandemic that we find ourselves in.  We were talking about how things were going with business, work, and life in general.

One of the things they said they were doing was watching a lot more television.  They  rattled off all of the shows they had watched. It was quite impressive.

I shared with them that I had been working out a lot more.  Instead of working out 60-80 minutes a day, it was more like 90-120 minutes a day of focused workouts.  In addition to more walks around the city where we live.

The conclusion that I have come to and you already know this as well.  We default and become more of who we are even during times of uncertainty, success, failure, and life as a whole.

My mentor explained it to me this way.  He said you have to decide if you are going to be a charitable person or not.  He said the amount of money you have or don’t have doesn’t matter.  You can be charitable when you are making fifty thousand dollars a year or a million dollars a year.

You are either charitable or not.  If you don’t create the habits and mindset to be a charitable person now while the stakes are lower, you definitely won’t do it when the stakes are much higher.

Many people are setting around saying to themselves “When I _______.”  Fill in the blank.

  • make more money, I will invest more
  • make more money I will give more
  • have more time I will volunteer more
  • am not raising kids I will go back to school

I am not sure where you are in journey but you have to decide now, the person you want to be and then do whatever it takes to start implementing the habits and decisions that will make you that person.

There is no “there” out there.  You don’t magically arrive one day. Life is an evolution. You have to continue to evolve, but the first step to evolution is to decide who you want to be.

Repetition and Frequency and why you need both for success

A good question to ask yourself is “How often should I get a check up on my health?”

At my age, health, and background, my doctor believes once a year is sufficient.  As I age, it will become more frequent than that.

Someone very close to me goes to the doctor more often.  It seems like at least once a month, if not more.  They have several chronic illnesses and they have several medications that they are taking.  Which requires more tests and check ins.

Repetition and frequency for them is more important because of their situation.

Success in your health, life, career, etc. all comes down to the repetition and frequency.  And you have to do both of these to have any success in life.  I believe the more you do them both the quicker and more success you will have in the thing you want success in.

Repetition is the act of doing something over and over again. The more we repeat something, the better we should get at it.  I say should, because the level of complexity of the thing is also part of the equation.

If you take a job that now requires you to give more presentations than your previous position.  When you first start that job and start giving presentations.  You most likely won’t be very good at it.  But over time you will become better at it, or at least you should become better at it.

This is where frequency comes in to play.  The definition of frequency is the number of occurrences of a repeating event in some time period.

This is the game changer and why you need both repetition and frequency to have success.

What if you had a job where you delivered a presentation once a month.  By the  third month you would become better at it.  However, if you had to get up every single day and do it, your number of occurrences would be 2900% more, than doing it once a month for three months.  You would have 87 more occurrences. In each of the occurrences you would have refined your presentation and delivery and gotten better at it.  Which in turn you would get better results from it.

Most people can do some level of repetition in their life.  That is the easy part.  But where they typically fail is in the frequency part. They allow too much time in between occurrences of the the activity they are repeating.

I like to use fitness as an example. If you are over weight and unfit and decide to change.  You can’t say I will start working out once a week. Its not enough frequency (occurrences).   You could repeat the exercises once a week for the next seven months and you would most likely not change much.  Because of this you would end up quitting. Plus your body would not change much.

If you instead decide to workout every other day, your would dramatically increase your chances of having success.  You would start to see results sooner, which would motivate you to keep going.

The more often you do something the more success you will get from the act or the results from that act.

If you want to have success in anything in life, I believe you have to increase the repetitions and the frequency. And yes you can accelerate your results depending on the frequency you do the repetitive act.

So the question becomes how quickly do you want to change something?  How quickly do you want to change your financial situation?  You have to either increase the frequency you are paying towards your debt. Or you have to increase your output (work) to be able to earn more to put towards your debt.

Take a look at any area in your life today where you are not getting the results you want.  Now look at the frequency at which you do the activity that should deliver the results for you in that area.  What if you increased the frequency? I guarantee if you do you will get better results.

To your success and your future.

 

 

Show up

Success in life really comes down to these two words:  Show up.  

There is nothing magical or hard about it.  When you show up good things will eventually happen.

When you show up you are keeping the commitment that you made to yourself.  This one thing alone is just as important as the showing up part.  Once you quit lying to yourself, you can take control over everything in your life.

Humans suck at commitments.  We don’t like to make them to ourselves and we definitely don’t like to make them to there people and be held accountable to them.  When we commit we are putting ourselves out there. We are taking the chance that we could fail.  Humans don’t like failure and we will avoid it all cost. Because of this we don’t go “all in” on commitments.

Work is a commitment that you keep because there is an incentive tied to it.   I am not talking about these commitments.  These are the easy ones.  I am talking about the commitments that you don’t have to make.  And you definitely don’t have to keep them. These are the hard ones and these are the ones that will impact your life the most positively.

When people aren’t getting the results they want.  When they are not accomplishing their goals.

It comes down to their lack of commitment to them.  If you haven’t fully committed, you won’t show up.

Take inventory of your life today and ask yourself the simple question.

Are you showing up to the things you said were important to you? If the answer is no.  Then I would challenge you to ask yourself how committed you really are to the thing.

My mentor said it best.  “action follows commitment.”  You won’t take action until you are committed.

To your success and your future.

 

 

 

Never quit, but you can pivot

One of my favorite topics to write and talk about is goals.  Not because I consider myself to be an expert in setting and achieving them.  It is quite frankly the exact opposite.  I actually come up short on them more often than I would like to admit.

How I learned the value of never quitting but learning how to pivot as necessary.

When I was 33 years old.  I became a student again.  This was seven years after I completed my MBA.  I consider all of my formal education, K-12, associates degree, bachelors degree, masters degree.  That formal education something I just had to do.  It was required.  Not because it was forced on to me by my parents. I knew to compete in the world I had to be prepared with those credentials.

At 33 is when I started to take my personal education more serious and became a student once again.  I became a strategic goal setter.

At 26, I was a landlord.  I had purchased a duplex.  I had always had a desire in the back of my mind that I wanted to own real estate one day that I would rent. I am not sure why this thought entered my mind.  No one in my immediate family that I knew of had owned real estate.  The only thing that I can remember as a young kid that would have prompted me to think this way, could have been a good friend of mines grandparents who I spent a decent amount of time around when I was younger.

My friend was a really good student.  One of his motivations to be a good student was very simple.  For every A he would get on his report card he would get $50 dollars from his grandparents.  B’s were worth $25.  I can remember him showing me the money after every report card. I was jealous. Keep in mind this started around middle school up until tenth or eleventh grade.

To me my friend was rich, because his grandparents were rich.  I couldn’t imagine having that much money handed to me. Being around his grandparents I knew that they owned a lot of rental property.  That was the extent of my knowledge.  Outside of that I didn’t know exactly how much or how long, etc.

This is the only thing that I can thing of that would have planted the seed of me wanting to own real estate.

Fast forward back to age 33, I had owned the duplex for seven years.  I had not purchased anymore property up until that point. At 33, after purchasing a goal setting seminar.  I decided to set a goal of owning ten rental properties by age 40, and I wanted them all to be paid off by that time.  I didn’t know how I was going to achieve this goal. But I said if I can buy one house every quarter.  I could get there.

I set this goal and reminded myself of it daily.  For the next three years.  I purchased another five houses.  Now at age 36, I had seven total tenants and 6 properties. Seven if you included my own personal home.

I was well on my way.

Like most of life though, things happened and things changed.

In 2015, I met my future wife.  My dad died unexpectedly and about a year later in 2016, my wife and I decided to pack up and move to Florida.  When deciding to move to Florida, we also decided to sell the duplex I had owned since I was 26.  This is something I regret now, but at the time it made a lot of sense. I had also sold my personal residences a few years before.  We now had just the five rental properties. Two of them I paid cash for and the other three had mortgages.

Once we made it to Florida.  I took a position where I was 100% commission.  Meaning if I don’t sell, I don’t make any money.  For about the first year, my income was really unpredictable.  I had good months and months were I didn’t make any money.

Now during this time, I continued to put all of my money that came from the rental properties back in to paying off the mortgages I had.  Once I paid each mortgage,  any remaining money I would put towards the principal of my lowest dollar amount mortgage.  I knew if I could get one of them paid off quicker, it would make the next one even easier.  Because I would have more money to put towards it.

Once I started making some more predictable income with my new position in Florida, it was around the year and a half mark.  Also, at this time.  My wife and I decided that we were going to pack up and move again.  We didn’t love Florida, and we were now moving to Dallas.

During this time in Florida, I continued to look at real estate every single day.  My income wasn’t predictable enough at the time where we felt comfortable enough to buy anything.  But I continued to look and knew if I could find something I would figure out a way to buy it.

Now that we are in Dallas, I once again found myself with zero income.  This time, I was going to go out on my own.  I had been freelancing for years.  I knew where some opportunities existed and where I could make a difference and build a business.  So I poured all of my resources in to doing that.

Keep in mind I still had that goal of 10 rental homes by 40 and all of them paid off.

At this time I am now 38/39.  I am putting a lot of money into my business.  Pretty much most of everything I would make would go right back in the business.  I did this for about a year or so.  It was hard.  Really hard.  And it wasn’t bringing me any joy.

Once again, I pivot and take a position with a great company last fall. By this time I am now 40.  I was excited to take this new position because once again, it was 100% commission, but the product was a great and it had great market presence. I knew I could crush it.

This past February I turned 41.  I didn’t make the goal of ten houses by age 40 and all of them paid off.

I was only able to get four of the five paid off.  Yep.  I am sitting here today, and my goal wasn’t accomplished and if you gave it a measurement.  I guess you could say it took me a year longer, and I only accomplished 40% of what I wanted to accomplish.  This is true, if you look at it this way.

However you want to look at it.  Here is what I know.

Life is really hard. Things change.  People change. Our priorities and our goals change.  The world around us changes.  I know that with out the constant reminder to myself of what my goal was, I wouldn’t have even accomplished the 40%.  It may have been zero.

One of my favorite shows of all time is Boardwalk Empire on HBO.  if you haven’t watched it. You should.  The main character says something that has stuck with me ever since. He said “You always need to have something planned, because you need something to look forward to.”

I believe goals are a lot like this. You need to have them set because they give you something to look forward to, but even more importantly they give you a direction and more importantly motivation to do what it takes so you can achieve them.