I observed that many of us have posed similar questions: How can I develop a broader perspective? How can I think more deeply? Firstly, I want to emphasize that you shouldn’t feel disheartened by such inquiries. At times, these questions arise because your perspective differs from others. On other occasions, it might indicate overlooked viewpoints. However, most often, it signals an opportunity for introspection and growth in your thought process.
So, what do we mean by “thinking”? Even in sleep, our brains are active. When people discuss thinking, they typically refer to the processes of understanding past events, forecasting future occurrences, and deciding the best course of action. Explaining and predicting are closely intertwined, while decision-making involves both analyzing options and acting on insights. The former is cognitive, while the latter often requires courage. So, how can one excel at understanding, forecasting, and evaluating options?
- Be Open to Changing Your Mind: In many cultures, changing one’s mind is perceived as indecisiveness or lack of depth. This perception can hinder our ability to adapt our views in light of new information. Bayesian statistics highlight how new data can significantly shift our initial beliefs. For instance, learning that competitors are benefiting from high-interest loans might challenge our assumption that high-risk users aren’t worth pursuing. This approach inherently promotes probabilistic thinking. While our educational systems often favor deterministic answers, life’s events are largely probabilistic and influenced by myriad variables. Will Russia detonate nuclear weapons? Will the Fed increase interest rates?
- Establish a Base Case: This could be drawn from experience or by referencing past actions. If you’re unfamiliar with a topic, a random choice might serve as your best initial guess. For instance, without any stock market expertise, predicting tomorrow’s stock price to be similar to today’s is a reasonable assumption. To predict the risk level next month, the best guess if you have no additional information will be the average of the past few months. A base case provides a starting point, ensuring you’re not wildly off the mark.
- Seek Diverse Perspectives: Encountering opposing views can be uncomfortable, but they’re invaluable for a comprehensive understanding. To achieve the best solutions, it’s crucial to venture beyond familiar terrains and consider a range of opinions. This means valuing varied insights over merely adhering to authoritative voices. I strongly encourage to have more team discussions and debates. For example, we have to debate the pros and cons of having a more aggressive lift in limit increment, and the use of temp limit vs. perm limit.
- Recognize and Counteract Biases: Biases like confirmation bias, where we favor information that aligns with our beliefs, can skew our judgment. We must be open to changing our views. Relying solely on heuristics or intuition can also be misleading. While experts and authority figures offer valuable insights, the authority bias can blind us to alternative perspectives. Always question the source and rationale behind opinions. Additionally, be wary of conflicts of interest that might compromise the integrity of advice or judgments.
- Prioritize Logical Coherence: Logical validity doesn’t necessarily equate to truth. It means that given certain premises, the conclusion logically follows. Ensuring our arguments are logically sound is crucial, and proof-based mathematics offers excellent training in this regard.
- Decompose Complex Problems: Breaking down a problem into smaller, more manageable parts is a good strategy. This approach is versatile and applicable across various scenarios. The key is to start with a foundational understanding (or base case), enhance it through diverse perspectives, incorporate new information, and connect the dots logically. For example, we have broken down the expansion problem into an equation: profit = income – cost = limit X Utilisation X EIR – COR
In conclusion, here are some actionable steps to further hone your thinking:
- Read Widely: Delve into diverse subjects, from mathematics and science to psychology, economics, and finance. Interdisciplinary knowledge equips you with varied models to tackle complex problems.
- Practice Mathematical Proofs: You don’t need advanced math courses to grasp logic. Familiarising yourself with basic proof-writing techniques can significantly sharpen your logical acumen.
- Write Regularly: Writing compels clarity and logical consistency. If you struggle to articulate a concept, it’s likely you haven’t fully grasped it.
This is my perspective on nurturing thoughtful minds. I hope it offers a base case upon which you can build. Let’s continually refine our beliefs and strive to be super thinkers.