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Introduction

Introduction

Why didn’t I think of that!?

Do opportunities escape your attention? Do proposals have unexpected adverse consequences? Do problems go undetected too long? It isn’t easy to step outside your own thinking, and even harder to see where your thinking went awry.

That’s where clear thinking comes in. Clear and creative thinking precedes effective and compassionate action, advancing what you value. Practicing clear thinking enables you to improve your performance by:

Drawing useful conclusions from limited information

Tapping your creativity to generate fresh possibilities

Translating promising opportunities into desired outcomes

Using logic and intuition as allies to anticipate and resolve problems

So what exactly is clear thinking? Let’s look at this term in relation to others used throughout the book in discussing creative and analytical thinking.

Thinking is cognition and emotion that enables you to understand and appreciate the reality you and others perceive

Clear thinking minimizes the influence of distorting filters such as mind-sets, attachments, assumptions, and expectations

Creative thinking adds value by discovering or inventing new ways of looking at the familiar

Critical thinking is the use of analytical reasoning to draw useful conclusions from limited information and to verify the truth of a claim or assertion

Based on hundreds of skill-building workshops, this book offers practical suggestions and helpful exercises for clear, effective thinking. Participating in this book’s exercises will help you to make the concepts your own. As you work through the book, you will be learning how to:

Judge the soundness of proposed ideas

Avoid crises

Heighten your awareness of bias

Resolve ethical dilemmas

Communicate in ways that foster empathic understanding

Start now by identifying a real-life issue of concern to you—something about your work, a disagreement, or a career question. Write your issue below. Think about this issue as you work through the book. Some of the exercises will have you referring to this focal issue as you apply clear-thinking concepts toward its resolution.

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