It’s Time to Critically Think About Critical Thinking!

Share this...

For years I have noticed many people exhibit lazy habits and weak competency in the essential skill of critical thinking. Maybe I see this so clearly because the work of my company is to promote personal responsibility, including transferring task ownership to those most appropriate to pick it up. Maybe it’s because we leverage best practices in education that teach people how to comprehend, retain, innovate from, and apply knowledge. Our immersive process promotes individual and group critical thinking skills so desperately needed today. Here are beliefs and habits that impede it:

“The third-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the majority. A second-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the minority. A first-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking.”

A.A. Milne, Playwright and Author (most notably: Winnie the Pooh series)

A Lack of Humility, Receptivity, and Curiosity

Many people are conditioned to be compliant to authority figures who are equally conditioned to bestow knowledge from above without questioning it and without the humility to be receptive to new or different perspectives from those they lead. The majority of people, whether they realize it or not, conclude it’s inappropriate or foolish to question “common sense.” They fail to be curious, ensuring rigid adherence to simple, formulaic, status quo thinking and acting.

“I try to encourage people to think for themselves, to question standard assumptions…Don’t take assumptions for granted. Begin by taking a skeptical attitude toward anything that is conventional wisdom. Make it justify itself. It usually can’t. Be willing to ask questions about what is taken for granted. Try to think things through for yourself.”

Noam Chomsky, Professor, Activist, Expert in Analytic Philosophy, and a Founder of Cognitive Science

Avoidance of Discomfort and Hard Work

Not only do discomfort and hard work get a bad rap, some of both are essential in achieving anything worthwhile and necessary. Discomfort is not the enemy; complacency and blind submission are the real foes. People must be provided the support to “grapple with” present thinking and conditions in order to upgrade their conclusions, solve new problems on the fly, improve their critical thinking and go out of their way to change what needs changing, especially at this time.

“Responsibility to yourself means refusing to let others do your thinking, talking, and naming for you; it means learning to respect and use your own brains and instincts; hence, grappling with hard work.”

Adrienne Rich, Author, Poet, Feminist

Giving Advice and Answers is Thought to be Helpful Support

The philosopher Socrates was on to something when in essence he promoted, “Say less, ask more” (what we refer to as S.L.A.M.) He knew that critical thinking is developed by valuing the wisdom inherent within people and their capacity to think through challenges to bring about innovation and improvement. In our monthly mentoring process, we teach clients to NOT advise or counsel each other. Instead, they are instructed to ASK specific questions to raise awareness and help the mentee outline next steps they will take to manage something. This is difficult because mentors forget that transfer of responsibility and strengthening critical thinking in people are the most essential goals in helping them.

“Follow the path of the unsafe, independent thinker. Expose your ideas to the danger of controversy. Speak your mind and fear less the label of crackpot than the stigma of conformity.”

Thomas J. Watson, Sr., American Industrialist, CEO of IBM, responsible for their culture and management style

Impatience in Transferring Responsibility

When I was raising my five children, I chose to practice patience and development of leadership and critical thinking in them. It would have been so much easier and initially faster for me (as a dominant person) to steamroll them to do it my way and do their thinking for them. However, I knew that pampering and enabling would be the fastest way to support them in becoming passive, insecure, under-performing, robotic, purposeless, unmotivated, self-focused and unfulfilled. These are what I see as currently and perilously prevalent today and the root cause of apathy and fear of robust, healthy autonomy. This is why it has been my life work to train my family and many others in critical thinking and responsibility. I hope you will too because it’s high time to critically think about the immense importance of critical thinking!

“The principal goal of education in the schools should be creating men and women who are capable of doing new things, not simply repeating what other generations have done; men and women who are creative, inventive, and discoverers, who can be critical and verify, and not accept, everything they are offered.”

Jean Piaget, Swiss Psychologist, Expert on Child Development and Cognitive Development

As published in the column The Extraordinary Workplace, in the St. Louis Small Business Monthly, September 2023

Related Articles

Related Interviews

Related Services

Why People Hire LifeWork Systems

Business owners and executives, community leaders, parents, educators and individuals hire LifeWork Systems because they know that effective conditions and conversations make all the difference in building trusting relationships, achieving dreams, and creating solutions and innovations for our evolving world. When people are happy and responsible, emotionally and socially intelligent, confident, and appropriately seen, heard, and supported, they always exceed expectations. We help instill into every person common concepts, terms, tools, and processes that result in healthy, happy, caring and contributing individuals, teams and organizations. Our mission is to create a world in which all people love their lives!

We appreciate you being here on our website and encourage you to reach out to us directly at or  314.239.4727. May something we offered in this article and website help you love YOUR life ~ because YOU matter!

LifeWork Systems Logo white with transparent background

Join Our Mailing List