From school to business, we’ve been conditioned to believe that the best thinking is done inside our heads. Problem is, that thinking about thinking is outdated thinking…

Think back to when you were a child. Whether you were playing with blocks or playdough, how did you go about shaping your world? Did you invest your time in planning meetings, evaluating possible scenarios and risks before proceeding – or did you just dive in and start experimenting?

In other words thinking by doing.

We like to think at that young age we lacked the sophisticated thinking capabilities we now possess. However we now also possess far more inhibitions and biases that can decrease rather than increase our potential.

As Mike Tyson, the youngest ever Heavyweight Boxing Champion of the World, once noted “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” In other words, pre-fight a boxer can try and think through all the angles but the range of possible scenarios is so vast that inevitably they’ll encounter situations they never planned for.

In that scenario the moving elements are just two people in a 6m x 6m square. The competitive arena for any organisation is vastly larger with significantly more moving parts. Yet we convince ourselves our brains are capable of predicting and planning for this intensely more complex scenario – just by sitting around boardroom tables.

So to increase your brainpower start doing more of your thinking outside your head. Accelerating your processing power and broadening your perspective by making far greater use of all the thought inputs around you...

Need a fresh perspective? Asking the same people in the same room just gives you the same perspective. Instead experiment with walking outside the meeting room and asking the first person you see.

Working on a difficult challenge? Don’t try and just think your way through it. Stand on the shoulders of giants and search for how others throughout time have approached comparable situations.

Or need to predict the future? Try exploring it with someone who’s going to be spending more time there than you.

In other words time to break out the blocks and playdough again – resisting your brain’s urge to first carefully consider whether that’s a good plan. 

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