In our last thought piece , we explored the theory that, rather than living in a world where everyone hates to fail, why not adopt a rethink-respond- regroup pattern. This way, we can experience failure as an opportunity for change, unlearning, and re-thinking. Adopting this approach supports your human-centricity and enables you to become future-fit through developing your set of twenty-first-century superpowers in the face of disruption. This is reinforced by Adam Grant in his book Think Again: The Power of Not Knowing What You Don’t Know, where he states that we are living in a time vital for re-thinking, where we can become adaptive and agile, developing our future-fitness in an uncertain world.

Critical art of re-thinking

The critical art of re-thinking involves being actively open-minded, open-hearted, and open-willed:

  • To learning and re-learning how to effectively question your own beliefs, mindsets, assumptions, opinions, and habits;
  • Through connection, association, detachment, and discernment to these qualities in others;
  • And to then put our mental pliability and emotional agility to the test by creating the time and space for re-thinking with a new perspective, revising our views based on what we learn.

This potentially benefits everyone because it allows us to update our points of view and expand our understanding of the world, building our future-fitness in the process.

It also positions us for change innovation and excellence in the way we transform our approach to work and share our wisdom in life.

Making time and space for re-thinking

  • The vital role of unlearning

Embracing human-centricity and a future-fit focus involves unlearning and letting go of many of our old beliefs, mindsets, assumptions, opinions, and habits embedded in our thinking systems.

Being able to discern which of these are now incomplete, ineffective, and irrelevant as we develop future fitness to thrive in the post-COVID-19 world.

Unlearning is not about forgetting. It’s about paying deep attention and developing the awareness to see, and safely and courageously step outside of our old thinking systems.

  • Being intellectually humble

Being intellectually humble involves “knowing what we don’t know”, being inquisitive and curious enough to explore new discoveries, and paying deep attention to the “unknown”.

Most of us are unconsciously motivated to move away from change and learning as a result of “blindness” to our learning or survival anxieties (Schein), and the need to cover up our “learning incompetence”, or when people pretend to know things they don’t.

The willingness to be actively open-minded and embrace intellectual humility helps us see things clearly and moves us towards overcoming our blind spots and weaknesses.

Re-thinking in a disconnected and disruptive age

  • Thinking, fast and slow

Daniel Kahneman, in his book Thinking Fast and Slow, describes the “machinery of thought,” dividing the brain into two agents. These are called System 1 and System 2, which “respectively produce fast and slow thinking.”

For our purposes, in ImagineNation™’s coaching programs, these can also be thought of as intuitive and deliberate thought.

  • Introducing System 3 thinking

My colleague Peter Webb (www.peterjwebb.com) has added to this work by researching and validating a System 3, which he describes as considerative. This is complementary to our approach to thinking differently at ImagineNation™.

  • System 1 operates automatically and quickly, with little or no effort and no sense of voluntary control. It is intuitive, quick, and emotional.
  • System 2 allocates attention to the effortful mental activities that demand it, including complex computations. The operations of System 2 are often associated with the subjective experience of agency, choice, and concentration. It is deliberative, in that is rational and calculated.
  • System 3 thinking is more considerative, thoughtful, and consequential in that it enables you to focus on what really matters, discern what makes common sense, make small decisions and take small actions to find out what works best, be compassionate, regulate your emotions and develop a tolerance for divergent values.

You can explore more these three thinking systems, and initiate your own re-thinking process by contacting Peter at https://www.peterjwebb.com/

Initiating your re-thinking strategy

  • Developing a habit of reflective practices

Our innovation coaching programmes involve developing a regular reflective practice –which according to Turner, Lucas & Whitaker, in the learning and coaching context is: “The ability to step away from your work and identity patterns, habits, strengths, and limitations in your work, and/within the system you work in.”

  • Pause-retreat-reflect cycle to catalyse re-thinking

At ImagineNation™, we help clients to initiate the re-thinking process and be actively open-minded through our “pause-retreat-reflect-reboot” cycle.

To support the development of the new habit, we include:

  • A personal reflection practice involves initiating or continuing a mindfulness activity.
  • A set of regular reflection activities which include different sets of reflective and generative questions.
  • Journaling processes, incorporating the CCS Cards for play and critical reflection for our clients to experiment with.

This involves practicing a set of regular retreat and reflection activities, involving safely and intentionally enabling people to deeply listen and question across the three thinking systems simultaneously.

Enhancing your own and your team’s capability to do this will transform your approach to work, harness people’s collective intelligence to share their wisdom in life with the world, and develop future fitness to master challenges and solve problems as they arise.

Shifting to re-thinking

  1. Interrupt their habitual “do-feel-think” cycles (doing work that may not deliver the results you want, feeling the awful emotions that result from mistakes, imperfection, and failure, then thinking what to do about it).
  2. Create “stop signals” to affect a pause–long enough to stop working and become present to the range of emotions to calm down their nervous system.
  3. Connect, associate with, and acknowledge how they might be feeling at this moment in time.
  4. Pay deep attention to observing their operating thought patterns, with detachment and discernment.
  5. Intentionally choose a desired future state or outcome.
  6. Consider the impact of their feelings and thoughts on the results they are getting.
  7. Deliberate, consider and quickly choose more resourceful visceral and feeling states that compels, and mobilise them to achieve the desired future state or outcome.
  8. Finally, deliberate, consider, and quickly choose more resourceful thought and feeling patterns to choose the most intelligent actions to take to achieve the desired future state or outcome.

The result is usually the development of a re-thinking process that has evolved from “do-think-feel” to “feel-think-do” (connecting to a desirable outcome, feeling present, thinking about the most intelligent thoughts and actions to embody and enact to get there, saving both time and money on wasted activities, avoiding mistakes and failures, to get to their desired future state.)

A final word on the benefits of re-thinking

Taking just a moment to pause-retreat-reflect catalyses our rethink-respond-regroup pattern and creates opportunities for change. It is also a vital ingredient towards developing peoples’ future-fitness.

Enabling us to appreciate the value of tuning into ourselves and into others, to leverage our emotional and mental muscles, towards actively creating the space for evoking and provoking different options and creative choices.  Which better enable and empower us to re-think about being, thinking, and acting differently in a new age, impacted by the technologies created by accelerated digitization.

We can then perform at higher levels, achieve our desired outcomes and goals, interact, lead and team more effectively and develop functional and highly valued collaborative relationships with others, as well as with stakeholders and customers.

To leverage the current turning point, and develop our twenty-first-century superpowers, to co-create a more equitable, resilient, sustainable, human-centric, and future-fit environment, within an ever-changing landscape.