Engaging Change: Transform Yourself pp. Summary pp. Acknowledgments pp. Brilliant people aren't a special breed—they just use their minds differently. By using the straightforward and thought-provoking techniques in The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking , you will regularly find imaginative solutions to difficult challenges, and you will discover new ways of looking at your world and yourself—revealing previously hidden opportunities.
Children who hear about the olden days when phones were attached to walls by wires are learning about a foreign, quaint, antiquated world.
Children or newcomers start where we are now and, without the burden or bias of history, proceed forward. So one of the challenges for us all is to see—with fresh eyes—the current world for what it is now. Knowing the history is certainly helpful, but not if we tend to see current solutions as summits. We must get in the habit of seeing each advance as putting us on the lower slope of a much higher peak that has yet to be scaled.
In he had an idea to speed up the manufacturing process—instead of building one car at a time, he created the assembly line. The acceleration in production was unheard-of—from an output of automobiles in to an impressive 2, cars the following year. Instead of taking a day and a half to manufacture a Model T, as in the past, he was now able to spit them out at a rate of one car every ninety minutes.
The moral of the story is that good progress is often the herald of great progress. The same is true of learning new and increasingly difficult concepts or mastering skills at increasingly higher levels. You may have to struggle to finally master an idea or a skill. Having toiled to get that far, you may think that it would be impossible to go yet further, or you may just feel worn out.
But after you have reached one level, that is where you start. That is the platform from which you can proceed even further—whether that starting point is a high grade, a professional accomplishment, or a profound insight; go for it! Assume there is a mistake or omission or missed opportunity in your work—there always is!
Now find it yet another example of the insights we can gain by failing. This activity is much more challenging than it might at first appear. We are biased and limited by what we already know—especially since we know it works. However, moving beyond that bias can lead to new answers that, in turn, can lead to new insights and more effective solutions. People who make this evolutionary iteration a standard practice are far more successful in their education and in life than those who see an answer as an end.
Illustration: A better Shanice Shanice decided to apply this exercise to herself. She considered her best personal assets and wondered how to make them far better still. She plays the cello and her sight-reading is amazing, so she considered improving that skill. She knits beautiful scarves using complicated lace patterns, so she considered improving that talent. She finally decided to focus on her passion for rugby and worked to improve her already strong passing abilities.
Working on strengths can have unexpected payoffs, including, paradoxically, remedying weaknesses. In this case, improving her passing involved communicating more effectively with her teammates, which thus led Shanice to improve her previously weak communication skills both on and off the field. Working on strengths is a feature of successful thinking and learning that takes everyone—including Shanice—to new heights.
Human beings do not instantly see far. Our field of intellectual vision is limited to a few steps from where we are now.
We must acknowledge that however far we do see, our vision extends merely to a horizon beyond which a far bigger world will become visible. How can we start the process of exploring where new ideas can lead us? You will be thinking in a different way—which, of course, is the entire point. To be sure, not every sequence of consequences that we imagine will actually come to pass or lead to fertile new ground, but exploring those consequences several steps forward can have great value.
Following that flow can highlight some fallacies in seemingly sound schemes. For example, suppose you wanted to improve air travel by making it safer. Following the possible consequences of improved airline safety may lead to a surprising conclusion. Improved airline safety could actually result in more total deaths, because if the increased safety leads to higher costs for flying, then more people might be forced to drive, which is a far more fatal way to travel.
To envision the future, look back and put yourself in the mind-set of the past. For example, think about how difficult it would have been thirty years ago to envision the Internet. You may think this vision is pure fantasy, but consider how impossible smartphones without cords would have seemed in the s—it was the science fiction of its time.
Think one step back to imagine one step forward. Nothing is easier than seeing the ridiculous biases of the past or the ridiculous biases that other people hold. But nothing is harder than seeing the ridiculous biases that we accept ourselves.
By extrapolating the flow of future ideas, we can identify invisible problems today. A way to provoke effective thinking … Ask: What were they thinking? What beliefs, cultural habits, opinions, or actions that are completely accepted today will be viewed as ridiculous by our grandchildren? What are some possible candidates? Centuries ago, perfectly respectable people viewed slavery as a natural and moral practice.
What practices that we accept as fine today will be condemned as offensive in the future? These jokes are considered demeaning and reflective of prejudice. We are now sensitive to groups that might be insulted or debased in some way. This view is obvious to most cultured individuals. Every semester at every school in the country, report cards define significant numbers of the students as inferior.
There are alternatives. Perhaps, in the future, failing grades would not be recorded at all—only the knowledge and skills that a student actually mastered would make it onto his or her transcript.
Only in the future will that cultural norm be viewed from a different angle and deemed unacceptable. Some of our strongly held beliefs are based on plausible notions that we either read or heard, but many of our most firmly held convictions are not based on concrete, verifiable fact or proof.
It is impossible to avoid bias—it infuses itself through our upbringing, our values, our society, and our community.
The first real action item for all of us is to acknowledge unabashedly that we are all prejudiced. This self-conscious understanding of underlying bias is an important step if we are to begin to move forward.
In fact, a little arithmetic shows that that perspective is simply wrong. For example, New York City is the home of approximately skyscrapers. A building lasts perhaps 40 years before it needs a major renovation or replacement. It requires perhaps 4 years with construction crews conspicuously present to renovate a skyscraper. It is more realistic and healthier to view our world as one in which construction is always under way—everything is a work-in-progress. By analogy, your life has many major features—family, friends, education, professional situations, possessions, and more.
Each of these elements is in flux. In reality, the normal state is one in which some features of life and learning are problematic and need attention.
Acknowledge that reality and try to identify opportunities for improvement and growth. Expect and embrace change, and use the reality and perspective of the flow of ideas to help you both to understand the world and to create new worlds to come. The right dream. You may dream of creating that one new idea that will solve lots of problems and lead to fame and fortune. But the better dream is to see yourself standing on what seems to be the summit and climbing higher by taking one small step after another.
That modest habit of effective thinking will help you accomplish things you never dreamed possible. The Quintessential Element 5. Engaging Change Transform Yourself I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.
In some sense, the four preceding elements of effective thinking and learning paint the entire picture. Each of the preceding four techniques has the goal of changing you into someone who thinks and learns better. In ancient Greek philosophy, the quintessential element was the unchanging material from which the extraterrestrial realm was made. Here the unchanging fifth element is, ironically, change itself. Change is really the goal of the whole story.
Through our experience with hundreds of thousands of students, teachers, professionals, business leaders, and lifelong learners, we know that if you follow the lessons in this book, you will learn and understand at a deeper level; you will think of creative ideas; and you will be successful throughout life. This chapter is about what is involved in transforming yourself into a more effective learner and thinker.
In one sense there is nothing difficult about adopting effective strategies of learning and thinking. You simply need to let go of the constraining forces in your life and let yourself fail on the road to success. You simply need to question all the issues you have taken for granted all those years. You simply need to see every aspect of your world as an ever-evolving stream of insights and ideas.
You simply need to change. Of course, in reality, change seems hard—not simple. However, like the way to happiness, the path to change is not through greater willpower and harder work, but rather through thinking differently. The first four elements of effective thinking do the heavy lifting.
They invite you to understand fundamental ideas, to look for essential elements, and to extend what you already know. They suggest pointed questions for you to pose to yourself and others that cause you to think of new ideas, and they point out the value of failure and errors on the road to success. This quintessential element speaks to the challenge of becoming a person who embraces the lessons. The fifth element is a meta-lesson.
It recommends that you adopt the habit of constructive change. Our colleague, Bill Guy, told us a story about an administrator who wanted to change a school.
One year this headmaster decided to try to improve the instruction by having experts on teaching talk to the faculty members every month. I already know how to teach better than I do. The fifth element recommends that you actually do it. Just do it. Adopt the habit of improvement, whether using our four elements or by any other methods that you find. If the ability to change is part of who you are, then you are liberated from worry about weaknesses or defects, because you can adapt and improve whenever you like.
Definition of insanity: Doing the same thing and expecting a different outcome And now for something completely different. Grab a piece of paper and a pencil. Now repeat the exercise but this time with your eyes open.
Your result will hopefully be much better. These strategies have inspired many people in all walks of life to become more successful, and we hope that you too will create success through effective thinking. I know quite certainly that I myself have no special talent.
Curiosity, obsession and dogged endurance, combined with self-criticism, have brought me to my ideas. Brilliant students and brilliant innovators create their own victories by practicing habits of thinking that inevitably carry them step-by-step to works of greatness.
No leaps are involved—a few basic strategies of thought can lead to effective learning, understanding, and innovation. More importantly, you yourself can master and apply those strategies. This book presents practical, proven methods of effective thinking and creativity that lead to inevitable success in life. We, the authors, are teachers. Agno, Business Week's Coaching Tip blog "Inspirational and engaging but also educational and immensely practical.
Burger and Michael Starbird is a fun little book with great tips to improve overall thinking skills Suited for students who can employ the techniques in the book to earn better grades and become better thinkers.
As a practical and helpful guide, particularly for students seeking to improve the quality of their thinking and learning, The Five Elements of Effective Thinking is a thought-provoking and useful manual.
Although the authors draw most of their examples from the learning of mathematics, The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking can be applied in any classroom where thinking is emphasized. But its value is very high because it teaches us how to change the way we think.
It shows us how to think effectively. Our thoughts precede our actions and govern our lives. The way we think determines our success and happiness in life.
If these are important elements to you, so is this book. Samsung Galaxy Tab Secrets of Longevity: Dr. Show Your Work! Nothing could be further from the truth while there are likely genetic exceptions, the vast majority of the people we consider brilliant use their minds differently. Often, these geniuses practice learnable habits of thinking that allow them to see the world differently.