Curiosity and Critical Thinking

By Jay Forte

Fake news.

As the phrase implies, it is used to discount any piece of information that is not in alignment with what the speaker feels to be supportive of his/her perspectives. It’s a catch phrase we’re hearing a lot lately, frequently used by our presidential administration and, as a result, regularly used by nearly every media outlet.

Though a simple definition, the phrase deserves to be reviewed in greater detail. Because of today’s 24/7 news cycle, our thinking is often done for us. No break in our information stream means we’re constantly hearing varied information, making it hard to tell what’s fact and what’s not, who can be trusted and who can’t.

Herein lies the real challenge: with a constant stream of information, we’re missing the chance to be critical thinkers. We need to hold ourselves accountable to draw our own conclusions. We need to do our own work, think deeply and focus on facts. To be a critical thinker requires curiosity; it requires you to want to know more, hear more, think more. It requires you to not take things at face value. Our world, however, makes it easy to move through life without thinking since the deluge of information essentially tells us what to buy, where to live, what to drive and what to believe.

So here’s your task. When someone says fake news, ask how and why. When someone tells us that we should invest or take our money out of the market, we should do our homework to understand what is going on and what our options are. When someone says you should go to a specific college, major in a certain subject or get a particular job, we should be curious about who we are and think critically about where we fit in today’s world.

Important Questions from a Coach

  1. How often do you take what others say as fact without any review or thought?
  2. How can you think more intentionally about the information you encounter each day?
  3. What areas in work and life deserve deeper thinking and greater curiosity?

Know the difference between perspective and fact, of editorializing and reporting. Develop your “show me” or “convince me” mindset. Be curious about everything. Do your own work. Think critically. Make up your own mind.

 

Consider reading Are You Ruled by Worry, Fear and Uncertainty?

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How to Succeed in Changing Times

By Jay Forte

We have access to so much information that change happens at an epic pace. Change is here. Change is now. Change is our new normal.

So how do we (as creatures of habit) succeed in changing times? Develop your ARC: Adaptability, Resilience and Curiosity.

Adaptability. Our limbic brains are generally on high alert in periods of change since “change” is often associated with “danger.” However, we can train this part of the brain to see change as a positive event by teaching ourselves how to roll with it. Stop and notice your level of adaptability. Ask yourself these questions:

  • How do I learn to give myself several different endings to each of my stories?
  • What’s my plan B for something I am working on now?
  • How can I remind myself that when the world zigs, I may need to zag?

See what new things show up and how that could make your work, relationships and life more interesting.

Resilience. Get back up and keep going. This is likely the most important skill we can both learn and teach our kids, friends and fellow employees. When things change, we often approach them in old and outdated ways, which can often lead to the same, tired results. So when things don’t work out, how do we develop the stamina, the fortitude and the resilience to try something different instead of giving up? Stop and notice your level of resilience. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I get back up and keep going, or do I check out when things don’t work?
  • What encourages me?
  • What stops me?
  • What is one thing I can do today to be more resilient?
  • Who do I know to be resilient and how can I learn this trait from them?

Curiosity. Being curious about what’s coming next can help you look forward to change. Think of the opportunities. Think of the potential. Think of what can make where you are, or what you are doing, better. Developing a sense of curiosity helps you see the world from a possibilities perspective instead of from one of anxiety or fear. Stop and notice your level of curiosity. Ask yourself these questions:

  • How often do I ask “how about?” to expand my thinking?
  • How often do I make time to wonder, dream and imagine?
  • Who do I know to be curious and open to change, possibilities and options and how can I learn from them?

In a world that constantly changes, how will you be ready to play big, handle whatever life sends your way and show up doing what it is you are best at and called to do? Think ARC – Adaptability, Resilience and Curiosity.

 

Consider reading Are You The Great Pretender?

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