Critical Thinking Identifying And Challenging Assumptions

Critical Thinking - A Critical skill for effective leaders

All throughout our life, our inheritance has been a series of preconceived notions. These are so ingrained within our subconscious that we easily make assumptions and ironically we don't even realize that we are making them! We simply take some acquired knowledge as facts. Don't rely on the mistakes of the past. Sharpen your own skills of effective Critical Thinking and utilize those skills in everything you do. As a result, you will increase your ability to make quick and accurate personal and professional decisions that will lead to your ultimate success.

Critical Thinking is synonymous with skills necessary to become a master of leadership. With the affluence of information that is easily accessible and the gig's of information's that are available to us that has never been available before, being thorough in validating the information's has become exponentially vital to your success.

What is Critical Thinking?

Even though thinking creatively is often associated with thinking critically and vice versa, I would for the purpose of this article, make a distinction between the two.

  • The ability to think critically is our ability to verify assumptions with some tangible and verifiable facts and therefore not taking our or someone else's assumptions at face value. There is an old saying about the word "assume" and the phonetic spelling of the word (ass-u-me). Truer words were never spoken.

  • As for creative thinking, relates more to the concept of expanding our ideas. There are numerous definitions for critical and creative thinking; a simple Google search will verify that assumption. Critical thinking has over 10 million links on Google with creative thinking showing over 11 million.

It's purpose?

In Dr. Stephen D. Brookfield book, Developing Creative Thinkers (1987), the process of critical thinking is defined as having four distinct purposes:

  1. Identifying and challenging assumptions
  2. Creating contextual awareness
  3. Identifying alternatives
  4. Developing reflective skepticism

Why is it so important?

To coin a phrase, "Critical Thinking is Critical." ; Making decisions based upon erroneous, partially false or incomplete information not only drastically increases the risk of failure it actually guarantees it!

Once we understand all of the variables that do and could affect your decisions, we are in a much better position to make the right decisions because we have concrete evidence on which these decisions can be based. Only with using your critical thinking abilities can we truly understand just what those variables are and as a result we can use them toward our success.

P.S. A well-known psychological test for measuring your critical thinking ability is the Watson-Glaser Critical Appraisal.

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Creative thinking involves calling into question the assumptions underlying our customary, habitual ways of thinking and acting and then being ready to think and act differently on the basis of the critical questioning. 

Components of Critical Thinking 

  1. Identifying and challenging assumptions.
  2. Recognizing the importance of context.
  3. Imagining and exploring alternatives.
  4. Developing reflective skepticism.

Creative Thinkers

  • Consider rejecting standardized formats for problem solving.

  • Have an interest in a wide range of related and divergent fields.

  • Take multiple perspectives on a problem.

  • Use trial-and-error methods in their experimentation.

  • Have a future orientation.

  • Have self-confidence and trust in their own judgment.

    Critical Thinking Involves

  • Recognizing underlying assumptions.

  • Scrutinizing arguments.

  • Judging ideas.

  • Judging the rationality of these justifications by comparing them to a range of varying interpretations and prospective.

  • Providing positive as well as negative appraisal.

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