Entrepreneurs are problem solvers, as a matter of fact; they are only paid when they solve people’s problems through the creation of products/services.
To a large extent the ability to solve problems is determined by the quality of your thoughts or your thinking skills. Thinking is a skill and just like every other skill, it can be learnt and developed.
In this unusual article, I’ve decided to unveil the mystery behind ‘thinking’ so that the ‘art of thinking’ can be learnt, understood and applied effectively by entrepreneurs.
It’s my aim through this article to explain as clearly as possible what ‘thinking’ really means, point out the differences between ‘thinking’ and ‘worrying’ and how you can tell the one from the other
What Exactly Is THINKING?
“Thought is action in rehearsal”
– Sigmund Freud
According to Oxford Advanced Learner’s dictionary, ‘thinking’ means the use of the mind to consider something; to form connected ideas; to try to solve problem[s]. It also means; to have ideas, words or images in your mind; to intend something; to have a plan about something.
So, ‘thinking’ can be defined as the art of using the mind to generate ideas, find solutions to problems and to formulate a plan or strategy for implementing the ideas or solutions generated. Put succinctly, thinking is the art of creating answers or solutions to existing problems. It involves primarily the use of the mind, which means ‘thinking’ cannot be seen, but imagined; it can’t be touched, because it’s invincible.
Thinking is regarded as an ‘ART’ and not an ‘ACT’; because it’s only after thinking that we discover the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ to do. That is; the knowledge of ‘what’ to do and ‘how’ to do is derived from thinking. So, it’s not an action in itself, but has the potential to produce an action or course of action. The art [inspiration] of thinking produces an act [action].
Thinking going by its definition has mainly two objectives.
- Firstly, to generate ideas or find solutions to existing problems, and
- Secondly, to formulate the generated ideas or solutions into plans or strategies that can be implemented.
Combining these two objectives, the essence of thinking is to birth new ideas or find solutions to existing problems and converting the ideas generated or solutions found into workable plans. This is the sole essence of thinking; anything short of these two is another exercise, the opposite of thinking known as worrying. If after thinking you are unable to draw up a plan of action based on the ideas or solutions you generated, then you’ve just finished ‘worrying’ and have not been thinking.
THINKING vs WORRYING
“Worry is like rocking a chair – it gives you something to do but won’t take you anywhere.”
– Unknown Author
Worrying is “thinking” aimlessly; not having a definite purpose or objective in mind. It’s focusing on a problem and all its negative attributes rather than focusing on possible solutions. When you worry, you keep going round a particular problem and never being able to arrive at any possible solution.
You think of all the other things associated with a problem, except its solution. Rather than looking beyond the problem to arrive at a possible solution, ‘worrying’ looks inside the problem so that it can come up with any suitable explanation.
Thinking leaves you motivated, inspired, eager and refreshed; worrying leaves you depressed, de-motivated, sorrowful, and angry with yourself. Thinking is searching for options and solutions; worrying is searching for excuses and explanations. Thinking liberates – it sets your passion loose, it ignites your creativity. Worrying depresses – it shuts down all your creativity, weakens your passion and awakens all your negative emotions.
Thinking is productive, it’s an attempt to generate answers or solutions to problems and not an attempt to create more problems or find excuses for the existing ones. While thinking aims at finding a way out of a problem, worrying tries to find a way to justify the problem by putting the blame on something or someone else.
Thinking is progressive; it leads forward and gives you a new direction. It focuses on lessons learnt from mistakes made; it’s ever ready to accept corrections. It’s projective – opens up new ways.
Worrying is regressive; it always leads backward trying to justify your present condition or situation. It’s starting with the things you cannot do or have limited resources to do. Worrying is refusing to change; doing the same thing over and over, but expecting a different result.
It’s thinking about the ‘good old days’. Worrying focuses mainly on one’s weaknesses, keeping records of all the things one is unable to get, the things you don’t have. It’s playing the blame game; “if only this …, then ……. That”.
Worrying is not the same as thinking. To ‘think’ means to birth, generate ideas or solutions and to draw up plans or strategies for implementation. ‘Worry’ on the other hand, is focusing on a problem and all the unpleasant things surrounding that problem. Thinking is the deliberate use of the mind to achieve a specific end; this end could either be;
- A generated idea or solution and
- A formulated plan or strategy.
This implies that the ‘art of thinking’ always has a specific agenda it wants to accomplish; it’s never an exercise in futility. Each time you think, at the back of your mind there’s always a set aim or objective you want to accomplish, this could be a pressing problem or need.
So, thinking is the medium through which you work out the ideas or solutions and formulate plans or strategies that can be implemented to accomplish your desired aim or objective.
Thinking as a rule, must always yield a solution and not just a conclusion. A solution is a way out of a problem; a conclusion is an explanation for a problem. Within every problem lies both a difficulty and a possibility; thinking is searching for the possibilities while worrying is searching for the difficulties.
This is what clearly differentiates thinking from worrying; because the former produces a course of action [solution], while the later finds a reason for inaction [conclusion].
There are two ways to tell whether you’ve been thinking or worrying.
- First, by asking yourself this; “what exactly am I focusing on, the problem or a solution”? If your focus is totally on the problem; then you are worrying, but if your focus is on finding a possible solution; then you are thinking.
For example, if a person’s problem is that he doesn’t have a job, ‘thinking’ would be to search for a possible solution – “how can I get a job?” while ‘worrying’ would be to try to justify the situation – “why is it so hard to get a job?”. The emphasis here is on result, what exactly do you want, a solution to the problem or an explanation for the problem.
- The second way to tell whether you’ve been thinking or worrying is by looking at your mood. If you’ve been thinking, you will feel very excited, uplifted and energized, you will have a strong urge to immediately implement the ideas or solutions you’ve been able to generate.
And if you’ve been worrying on the other hand, then the opposite is the case. You’ll feel weak, upset, downcast and self pity will immediately set in. Rather than generating ideas or solutions, you’d have succeeded in creating more issues to brood over.
The bottom-line is this; Thinking is reasoning with the mind; worrying is reasoning with the heart; one is rational, the other emotional. I’ll conclude with this beautiful quote by Denis Waitley, I think it’s a perfect summary;
“Don’t dwell on what went wrong. Instead, focus on what to do next. Spend your energies on moving forward toward finding the answer”.
Are you thinking or worrying? What lessons did you pick from reading this and how are you going to implement those lessons to solve your business challenges as an entrepreneur?
Can’t wait to hear from you, share your thoughts and comments below!