Questions Versus Answers

A Critical Doer is committed to thinking and acting 

In Paradise Lost, Poet Laureate John Milton wrote “the mind is its own place and in itself can make a hell of heaven or a heaven of hell.”  All of us are occasionally guilty of contriving ideas that make a situation worse or better than it is in reality.  It’s a part of human nature, but unchecked it can substantially limit our capacity for achievement.

As Critical Doers, you possess the antidote for skewing reality into an inaccurate picture of the landscape…it’s called critical thinking.  Through the application of a structured mental process, you will limit the times you make a heaven of hell or a hell of heaven; it will simply be what it is and you can accomplish more acting on a foundation of fact and clear thinking.

Bloom’s Taxonomy (knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, evaluation) is the commonly accepted process of critical thinking in academic circles.  I’m going to offer you something that’s the same…but different…mainly just simpler…that you can use in any circumstance and achieve a better outcome than with emotion and preconceived convictions.

To critically think through a problem, answer the following questions:

  1. What are the facts? Starting with the problem is colloquially called “jumping to conclusions” and is highly ineffective.  Start with the facts…which includes reading/learning what others have seen the problem before have already figured out.
  2. What are the circumstances? Looking at the circumstances broadens your perspective of a problem.  The same facts can take on a different meaning depending upon the context of the circumstances.
  3. What is the problem? Getting the problem right is the step that determines success.  If the right problem is determined, the solutions are generally self-evident.
  4. What are possible solutions? Don’t lock yourself into a single course of action.  Find multiple achievable solutions that solve the problems in different ways.  Remember, your job isn’t just to solve the problem; your job is to find the best solution for the problem.
  5. What is your decision? Refer to a previous Critical Doer Deep Dive on using a decision matrix to add structure to the decision making process.

With a decision made, do what comes naturally to a Critical Doer…act!  I’m sure there’s a problem at home or work where a more methodical set of questions can help you move forward from the heaven you’ve made hell or the hell you’ve made heaven.  Use the questions in this post and you’ll get better results.  It’s what a Critical Doer would…do!


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Updated: June 6, 2015 — 11:18 am