The Two Sides of Critical Thinking
Our brains seem to be hard-wired to think critically. In many parts of our lives this function serves us very well. It warns us of possible dangers. It helps us form opinions. It enables us to anticipate what might go wrong and take corrective steps. It helps sharpen our focus and attention.
However, there is a downside as well. Because of the judgmental (critical thinking) aspect of our minds we usually lead with the question, “What can go wrong?” This keeps us from enjoying the powerful goodness that is usually present in our lives right now. It is a focus on the fearful future rather than the present and only the present can really be enjoyed.
In all parts of our lives – at home and at work – the good and not-so-good aspects of critical thinking are present. We can make many good decisions and formulate strategic plans by using our mind’s critical thinking ability. But it can also lead us to make decisions based on some of the most troublesome issues we may encounter rather than building on what is really working well. For example, we could make strategic decisions based on our biggest problems that would not reflect on the strength of what is working well.
This is a circular kind of thinking. It means we begin focusing on the wrong segment of our work or home lives. In the end, instead of inviting the better and newer into our lives, we may get even more of the “old same.” The call for us is to balance this critical thinking – both as individuals and as professionals. We must address the issues but also make sure we are leading with decisions made out of the best of our lives and interactions, not the worst.