Think (About Thinking) And Grow Rich: How Understanding Metacognition Will Ensure Your Success


Do you ever find yourself wandering from your train of thought? How about being unable to focus on a task for longer than a few minutes? Or this one: Reading a piece of information, then reading a contradicting piece of information and being unable to decipher which one is correct? Me, too! Luckily, there’s help on the horizon, thanks to the growing body of research in the field of Metacognition.

Metacognition — the process of thinking about thinking, or achieving a deeper understanding of one’s own thought process, is a crucial piece of the puzzle when it comes to achieving success. Regardless of your background, industry, targets, or any of the other data that goes along with tracking and measuring performance and goals, understanding the way you (and, by the way, your customers!) think remains one of the most important, yet overlooked, focus areas for way too many young professionals and entrepreneurs today.

Metacognitive analysis is currently a mega-wave in the education industry, with research going back several decades now. Numerous studies have resulted in reams of data confirming one central tenant of metacognitive analysis:

Those who understand the way they think are generally able to think more critically, more productively, and more beneficially when they apply these metacognitive learnings to everyday, real-world problems.

Tackling Thought From a Mental Framework

How do we begin to think about thinking? The fundamental question of metacognitive analysis presupposes this starting point: We as humans generally lack self-awareness when it comes to our own process of thought. We consider a problem from the point of view of our own biases, preconcieved notions, and personal histories without ever questioning those biases, notions or histories objectively. Or, to put it another way:

We know what we think, but not why we think it.

This poses a problem: It reduces our ability to truly problem-solve or think critically. When we can’t answer the question of why we think a certain way, we have no way of measuring the validity of the conclusions we arrive at. In other words, if every thought we have is run through our automatic subjectivity filter, it drastically reduces our capability for truly independent thought!

Pulling back the shroud surrounding our own individual mental framework will reveal the biases, preconceptions, and personal history that goes into each of our daily decisions. Please don’t think that I’m saying that in order to think better, we have to abandon all of our preconceptions, biases and history! I’m merely suggesting that metacognition must take these things into account in interpreting our mental framework. Whether or not the ladder we’re standing on has metal or wooden rungs doesn’t change the fundamental structure of the ladder, nor its usefulness. The composition of the ladder does, however, take into account the ways in which we use it.

Applying Metacognition To Your Life And Business

So what? Or, as one of my college professors used to say, “Let’s answer the WGAD — Who Gives A Damn?” What does any of this matter to how you live your life, or run your business?

The answer is simple. At the beginning of the post, I asked a series of questions relating to some frequent challenges we all face when it comes to thinking and making decisions. If you want those challenges to decrease, or disappear altogether, you have to understand your own metacognitive process! And yes, achieving that understanding WILL make those challenges decrease, or disappear! Understanding your own thought process will free you to truly think in new and different ways about old and similar problems. It will also enable you to apply some other “entrepreneurial-must-have” skills like empathy and active listening, to your clients and customers to better understand their metacognitive processes and work within THEIR mental framework!

In the end, thinking is important. Thinking is great. It’s fundamental to success. But being able to think about your thinking, being able to understand your own mental framework will save you time, money, and frustration, and will guarantee that your thinking is productive, and powerful in ways that it has never been before.

Click here for Part 2 — The How-To Post

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