September 9, 2009
Thoughtfulness in Thinking
"Thinking takes practice, too."
By: Lorraine Esposito
To be a successful adult requires the ability to think and plan strategically. The quality of your thoughtfulness,
i.e., the careful concern for the resulting consequences of each decision and action, may be the single most
important skill of an effective leader. This skill does not materialize all by itself and you're not able to learn
it from a book or even a college course. This is one of those life skills that must be learned by doing.
What does a thinker look like?
What does learning to be a thoughtful thinker look like? It looks exactly like a mistake in judgment. When you've
made a decision and something goes awry you've learned to think a bit farther ahead of the immediate outcome next
time. With each subsequent mistake in judgment, you learn to think even farther until one day you've mastered the
skill of thoughtful strategic thinking.
Practice is required
All big life lessons should be learned and practiced early in life while mistakes don't count too
much. For thoughtful thinking it is especially true. The mistakes in judgment for a child can be as simple as
putting off math homework until the last minute only to find that you need materials from the library which is now
closed. A ten year old will learn to think a bit farther out next time to ensure he/she will have access to the
resources needed. For a teenager, the mistakes in judgment can count much more so it's best not to wait the lesson.
Their earlier practice in thoughtful strategic thinking will help immensely when faced with many tough decisions,
such as deciding whether to ride in a car with a person who has been drinking. Because they had the opportunity to
practice and master thoughtful thinking early, their unconscious competence now will feel like second nature. They
won't have to actually make the mistake of riding in that car because they automatically think ahead.
Give your children the opportunity to practice this skill. Welcome and praise their mistakes now as a way to
proactively approach for preparing their successful futures. Don't wait until the price for learning is too