The year 2011 is technically the start of a new decade. Therefore, one of the questions on my mind has been, “What will be the focus or trend for the new decade?” I spent some time doing some research online to identify the new trends and found that three things will definitely occur in the new decade:
1. There will be more change in the world than ever before
2. There will be more competition
3. There will be more opportunities available.
I also identified that the emerging theme or trend, particularly in the complex digital age, will be “thinking”. The use of computers and the escalation of digital handheld devices has removed the human element from interactions and transactions. Technology in the last decade has limited our ability to take time out to spend on thinking – thinking about our current situation, thinking about our goals, and thinking about the future. Instead we spend significant amounts of time watching shows in front of flat-screen TVs, playing games or surfing the internet on computers, and tapping away on handheld devices.
Many decades ago Thomas Edison stated, “There are few people who think, a few people who think they think, and then there are the great majority, who would rather die than think“. Interestingly, this quote is still relevant today. We either avoid making the effort to think, or we have essentially allowed technology and computers to do our thinking for us. Humans, in general, have also become more complacent by focusing on the present rather than thinking about the future. Thinking provides the ability to make better decisions which translate into better actions, and ultimately better results.
One of the characteristics of successful and insightful people is that they are future-oriented. They set aside the time to think about changes and trends that will impact on the future. They use these trends and factors to identify new opportunities providing first-mover advantage. Future-oriented people believe they can create their own future and influence their destiny by taking advantage of these opportunities.
Thinking can also change the way we perceive a problem. We can think of a problem as an undesirable situation that needs to be rectified. We can also take this undesirable situation or problem and view it as a challenge that can stimulate motivation for us to take action. Ultimately, we can perceive a problem as an opportunity and take advantage of what it can offer.
John C. Maxwell in his book “Thinking for a Change” describes the eleven different styles of thinking that can change your life:
- Acquire the wisdom of big-picture thinking – holistic thinking that extends beyond your domain
- Unleash the potential of focused thinking – concentrated thinking to clarify the issues
- Discover the joy of creative thinking – thinking laterally outside the box to identify breakthrough opportunities
- Recognize the importance of realistic thinking – asking whether your thinking has a solid foundation
- Release the power of strategic thinking – thinking about the future and the potential opportunities it brings
- Feel the energy of possibility thinking – possibility thinking can help you find solutions to complex problems
- Embrace the lessons of reflective thinking – thinking about the past or your current situation to better understand and learn from your experiences
- Question the acceptance of popular thinking – understand the current trends of common thinking in society
- Encourage the participation of shared thinking – engaging others to expand and sharpen your thinking
- Experience the satisfaction of unselfish thinking – considering the needs of others in your thinking
- Enjoy the return of bottom-line thinking – staying focused on results and outcomes from your thinking
To engage in the thinking process, set aside some quiet time in the right environment with a clear and relaxed mind, together with pen and paper, using the following step process:
- Determine the purpose of your thinking – What is the objective that you are trying to achieve?
- Focus on the topic, issue or opportunity – Take the time to focus so that you can achieve clarity.
- Explore the possibilities using some of the thinking styles above – Identify the different alternatives available by using different thinking styles.
- Synthesize your thoughts and ideas – Combine, adapt, modify, substitute, eliminate or reverse your thoughts and ideas to create new opportunities.
- Record your thoughts and ideas on paper – Think on paper! Get back to basics by using a pen and pad or journal to write down your thoughts and ideas, also allowing you to get things out of your head.
- Act on the outputs and opportunities resulting from your thinking – Take action and implement your ideas.
If you focus on thinking about the future an unlimited number of possibilities and opportunities become available that can create a new direction and a more desirable life.
Dr John Kapeleris