As an entrepreneur, change is the only constant. The environment shifts rapidly, and the best entrepreneurs need to be able to adapt on the fly. That capability requires strong critical thinking skills. So why is critical thinking so important?
They define Critical thinking as the process of actively and intentionally conceptualizing information gathered via experience, reasoning, and observation and using that information to guide action and belief.
While critical thinking is an essential skill for people in all professions, entrepreneurs who know how to leverage it can create more opportunities in their industries and maintain their competitive edges – no matter what reality throws at them.
This blog will talk about the benefits of critical thinking, what it does for entrepreneurs, and how you can develop more of it.
The 8 Characteristics of Critical Thinking
Experts identify eight unique characteristics of critical thinking. They are as follows:
- Asking questions. Asking questions is essential for good critical thinking. Why is something the way it is? What does that mean for your business? And if you’re going to change it, how?
- Defining a problem. What gets measured gets managed. Entrepreneurs with good critical thinking skills know how to define a problem by making it specific enough to do address.
- Examining evidence. What’s the evidence that a problem exists? What is the duration and severity of the evidence, and how widespread is it?
- Analyzing assumptions and biases. Once you’ve examined the evidence, you also need to look at your reaction to the evidence. Forward-thinking entrepreneurs get honest about their beliefs and biases and know how to avoid sabotaging a decision because of them.
- Avoiding emotional reasoning. Emotions can intoxicate, but they’re not a great platform for business decisions. Good critical thinking involves avoiding emotional reasoning and making decisions based on evidence, logic, and observation.
- Avoiding oversimplification. While emotions aren’t a good way to make business decisions, neither is an oversimplification. It’s essential to consider an issue for what it is, with all its complexities and gray areas intact.
- Considering other interpretations. What would others say about the situation? How would one of your mentors or leaders react? What might someone in a different professional position do about it? Considering other interpretations is a great way to better conceptualize a situation and make an intelligent decision.
- Tolerating ambiguity. Finally, good critical thinking requires you to tolerate ambiguity. As an entrepreneur, situations won’t always have a cut-and-dried solution or outcome. You need to take that ambiguity and lean into the uncertainty to succeed in this arena.
Critical Thinking Skills Entrepreneurs Do Differently
Now that we’ve discussed critical thinking characteristics, let’s discuss the features of the people who display it. Entrepreneurs with outstanding critical thinking skills tend to do these things differently:
- Develop Curiosity. Entrepreneurs with solid critical thinking skills know how to get curious and ask questions. They challenge the status quo, think outside the box, and cultivate a culture of innovation in their daily lives.
- Alternative Thinking. Ambiguity, the quality of being open to more than one interpretation, is foundational to critical thinking. Entrepreneurs who think critically know how to lean into the obscurity, adapt, and keep moving – even when things don’t turn out as planned or unexpected information arises.
- Collaborate. Successful entrepreneurs know how to communicate with those around them. They clearly share the information they’ve gained and listen to input from others, understanding that their own ideas may not always be the best.
- Situational Assessment. Just because you held one position once doesn’t mean that position will hold in the future. The most successful entrepreneurs use critical thinking skills to redefine and validate their ideas, reassess their outlook, and determine whether they still view a situation accurately.
- Risk Tolerance. Back to ambiguity – the best entrepreneurs know how to tolerate risk and balance risk and reward to keep moving forward accordingly.
- Grit and Persistence. One of the best things about excellent critical thinking skills is that they equip entrepreneurs with the grit and persistence to learn from failure, keep going, and find solutions.
- Big Picture Focus. Finally, critical thinking skills equip entrepreneurs to focus on the big picture. Instead of getting caught up in the minutia, they look at the long-term, which allows them to grow, pivot, and sustain their businesses.
4 Quick Ways to Improve Your Critical Thinking Skills
Want to improve your critical thinking skills? Don’t worry – great critical thinking is made, not born. Here are a few ways to build your critical thinking muscles:
1. Start Questioning Everything
Asking basic questions is a great way to build critical thinking skills. Start by thinking about a few simple questions, like what you already know, how you know it, what you’re trying to prove, and what you might be overlooking. Simply getting in the habit of asking basic questions is an excellent place to improve your critical thinking skills.
2. Question Your Assumptions
Assumptions are dangerous throughout the business world, but especially so for entrepreneurs. Since entrepreneurs are trying to pave new paths and develop new ways of doing things, you cannot afford to make assumptions. Instead, get used to questioning your assumptions and critically evaluating your beliefs.
3. Evaluate The Evidence
If you’re not sure where to go, start evaluating the evidence you already have. What does it say about the situation? What does it reveal about the future? How can you leverage it to make an informed, intelligent decision? Are there biases or assumptions you’re holding about the evidence?
4. Give Yourself Some Grace
Finally, remember that nobody thinks critically 100% of the time. After all, critical thinking is a tool that you should deploy when you need to solve challenging problems, not a state you should be in at all times. If you miss an opportunity for critical thinking, be gentle with yourself and try again later.
Better Critical Thinking Means Better Entrepreneurship
Want to improve your entrepreneurial skills? Improve your critical thinking skills! While developing excellent critical thinking may seem complicated, it’s as simple as identifying essential characteristics and incorporating them into your daily life.
Article by: Rick Mayo
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