The Thinking Quadrant: Turning Daydreams Into Strategies

Descartes said, “I think, therefore I am.” Since we are thinking, Descartes asserted, we must certainly exist.

But it is also true: I think better, therefore I become better.

Effective thinking is the strong foundation for everything that happens. It’s where dreams and plans begin. Thinking casts a vision and then comes up with a way to turn the vision into reality. And it can take you from good to better, better to best….and beyond.

In my new book, The Potential Principle, I’ll help you become the very best you can be both personally and professionally by teaching you about metacognition — thinking about thinking. We’ll explore the powerful thinking quadrant of the Potential Matrix, and I’ll show you how to improve your thought life in order to improve yourself. Then you can apply enhanced thinking to the other areas of the grid — the performing quadrant, the learning quadrant, and the reflecting quadrant — for further growth.

Thinking isn’t easy, but what truly important things are? Henry Ford said it was the hardest work there is, and that’s probably why many people don’t do it. But intentional and correct thinking offers great benefits. It’s well worth the time and effort you put into it.

There are many ways to think more effectively, creatively, and productively, and I’ll share them in the book. Here’s one for starters:

Stimulate your mind, and then capture your ideas.

Do what it takes to get your brain in gear, whether it’s a strong cup of coffee, a brisk walk outdoors, or a challenging book on an unfamiliar subject. Seek out good conversation. Expose yourself to fresh perspectives and diverse opinions, to help you look at things differently and form new connections.

Find a place that’s conducive to thinking, and go there regularly. Give your mind free rein, and let your thoughts flow.

When ideas come, jot them down. Don’t try to evaluate them right away. That stifles imagination. Write down whatever comes to mind, or make a note on your cell phone, so you’ll be able to recall it later. Some of your ideas may seem great at first, but not so great later. Others that don’t seem like much initially may develop into awesome ideas over time.

Of course, thinking is about more than just coming up with ideas. Thinking also builds that path that turns abstract concepts into concrete results.

Good thinking will help you envision what you want to achieve in life and prevent you from making poor choices. Done well, thinking is a serious competitive advantage.

So find ways to stimulate your mind. Record the ideas that come to you. Then evaluate them, pick some good ones, and put them into action.

Order The Potential Principle at

New York Times bestselling author Mark Sanborn’s new book The Potential Principle: A Proven System for Closing the Gap Between How Good You Are and How Good You Could Be is scheduled to release September 5, 2017 and provides a map and method for becoming better than best. By identifying the four key areas in which growth is possible — thinking, performing, learning, and reflecting — and applying the four tools of improvement in those areas — disrupt, refocus, engage, and expand — Sanborn reveals the secret for achieving breakthrough improvement in any area of life. Mark is president of Sanborn and Associates Inc., an idea studio dedicated to developing leaders in business and in life. He is a noted authority and an in-demand speaker on leadership, customer service, and extraordinary performance. To book Mark and share the message of The Potential Principle with your team, please contact Helen Broder at or (910) 256–3495.