Pooh: ‘Yes, Piglet?’
Piglet: ‘I’ve been thinking…’
Pooh: ‘That’s a very good habit to get into, Piglet.’
I enjoy good thinking. I enjoy good thinkers.
Over recent years I have kept a regular habit of thinking to become a better thinker. It is not a complicated habit. It begins with scheduling a block of time in my week’s schedule for the single purpose of ‘thinking’.
Dr. Richard Paul is a lecturer on the practice of thinking and I like his definition. “Critical thinking is thinking about your thinking, while you’re thinking, to make your thinking better.”
“Critical thinking is thinking about your thinking, while you’re thinking, to make your thinking better.” Dr. Richard Paul.
These days, I schedule a block of 60 minutes each week for thinking. When I first started, I started small. I would set aside a 15-20 minute block while I enjoyed a mug of good quality coffee. I might suggest you start there too.
I approach my thinking time as one of my prayer practices. I find it helpful to remember that the word ‘metanoia’ or repentance is to rethink one’s thinking.
All good thinking results from asking good questions. I begin with a blank pad of paper and I write the most important question of my entire thinking process at the top of the page. ‘Father what do you think I should think about?’ Then I wait in silence. Sooner or later I come to realize what I need to think about and I write it out as succinctly and clearly as I can. If this is the only thing I accomplish during my scheduled thinking time, I am happy.
All good thinking results from asking good questions.
What now follows is a process that occurs over the following days. (Occasionally I will follow the whole process in one sitting. Do what works for you.)
My process towards better thinking…
- Write down this question, ”Father what are the important questions to consider on this issue?” (My goal is to fill at least one full page with nothing but questions. When I’m done, I try to think of at least one more.)
- Step away from the thinking process. When I finish the previous step I like to go for a walk and make it a point not to think about it. Instead I purpose to enjoy God and thank him for his faithfulness to guide my steps towards the kind of life that he desires for me.
- When I get back from my walk, I read through the questions on my note pad and often a few more come to mind and I add them to the list.
- At this point you know what you are thinking about and you have some great questions. What do you do now? As you ponder your questions, come up with five workable options. Five may seem like a lot, but you can do it.
- From these 5 options, which one makes the most sense to you? If you were to take a couple of simple steps towards putting this in place, what would they be? Go ahead, write them down and put them in your calendar.
These five steps will serve you well, but I would like to add one more. Proverbs 15:22 and 20:18 remind us that seeking counsel is crucial to making successful plans.
Some years ago I made one of the best decisions of my life. I asked Dave Jacobs from Small Church Pastor to become my pastoral coach. For five years now we haven’t missed a month where we spend on hour on Skype. One of the great benefits of this relationship is that I have upped my game in this area of thinking.
I have discovered that it is impossible for me to detach my emotions from the issue I am thinking through. My coach can. On my own I have made some good decisions. But, I have made better decisions when I involve the right person in my thinking process.
A great coach (and Dave is one of the greatest) will help you do your best thinking. One of the smartest decisions I have ever made was to become a certified leadership coach under Dave’s tutelage.
If you would like to give this process a go and see if it fits, here is how I might be able to help you. For the next little while, I am offering 6 consecutive free coaching sessions. We meet every 2 or 3 weeks and each session is one hour in length. We meet either by phone or Skype.
If you’re interested contact me and we’ll schedule our first call.