MindFul vs. MindLess Thinking

Last month we discussed the most common thinking habit, which we defined as defensive routines or defensiveness. By understanding the various types of Defensive Routines that we discussed, individuals are able to get a better grasp on how they create division with those (and things!) that they interact with daily. Consequentially, they are able to generate more harmonious experiences from moment to moment. I would like to again stress that gaining an intellectual understanding of the defensive routines does not equal eliminating them within ones total behavior. It is through trial and error over an extended period of time with the help of a professional within the field of behavioral management that they are put in check.

By learning to develop new ways of thinking that match the challenges of the 21st century, we can begin to make wiser choices that create value for both ourselves and others. I have taken 10 thinking habits as identified by Capella University’s new Bachelor of Science degree program and professional certificate programs in information technology that are necessary for optimal development within our personal and professional lives and discussed them from my point of view.

Types of Thinking Habits

Complementary Thinking: The ability to weave various points of view into an interconnected web of understanding. Individuals are able to understand how conflicting meanings can compliment each other and so exist simultaneously (Polar-Opposite Complementary), how to create multiple perspectives from concepts that do not conflict but are similar in content (Multi-Perspective Complimentary), and how to establish new meanings and discoveries by competently using such “complementaries” (Complementary meaning Making).

Connected Seeing: The ability to sea one’s reality as a whole, seamlessly connected, interactive and dynamic web or system. Each of us has a relationship with our environment, and when we can see this relationship as an interconnected whole our understanding of this experience will be a valuable one (Seeing Relationships). This understanding allows for individuals to make and find significant meaning within their lives (Seeing Significance), which by default results in high levels of motivation and joy. The final piece of this thinking habit is the ability to make connections and see relevance across and within various knowledge systems (Seeing Across Disciplines).

Collaborative Teamwork: The ability to work within a team setting to achieve a common purpose through the integration of personal initiative and group cohesiveness. Individuals with this type of thinking proactively search for acreative ways to attack various challenges (Creativity in Collaboration), find ways to communicate in a teamwork style that promotes trust and mutuality (Collaborative Dialogue), and are able to exercise responsibility regarding initiative and cooperation while fulfilling their individual and group commitments (Collaborative Responsibility).

Constructing Meaning: The ability to construct meaning by acquiring and streamlining diverse knowledge systems to deepen overall understanding. In this case, individuals actively obtain and analyze relevant and explicit knowledge (Acquiring Explicit Knowledge). Upon which they determine the relevancy of such knowledge through interviewing techniques, experiential analysis and introspection (Accessing Tacit Knowledge). Finally, they creatively integrate the body of knowledge by combining their explicit and implicit elements (Synthesis of Whole Knowledge).

Conceptual Clarity: The ability to think clearly regarding conceptual data and make sense of and distinguish among the known and unknown in order to establish fundamental clarity of concepts. Individuals are able to express the implications of relevant concepts clearly in writing (Clarity of Concept), uncover the rationale of concepts by incorporating relevant experiences to the existing principles (Clarity of Rationale), and balance the “reason” capabilities of mind, heart and imagination as the “go-through” for establishing wholeness of conceptual thinking (Clarity of Wholeness).

Communicating Effectively: The ability to create new understandings, new possibilities and new realities through effective communication within teams. This thinking habit allows individuals to recognize and use the influences of both descriptive and metaphorical language on their perception, thought and action (Language Awareness), which also enables them to generate leadership language that can be seen in the way they put their words together or by how they determine their word choice, metaphor, image and other language capabilities (Language Leadership). They can also use the unique power and quality of hypermedia (sound & video) to enhance and transform professional communications (Hypermedia Languaging).

Courageous Action: The ability to establish meaning in the face of ambiguous experience and take courageous action while in the midst of uncertainty. Many situations in our personal and professional lives require that we be able to recognize the relevance, occurrence and significance of ambiguity (Ambiguity Awareness), while simultaneously establishing meaning within those scenarios to create a reality through sense making, action and creating theories (Enactment of Reality). Emotional resilience and recognizing the courage needed to be committed, accept responsibility and continue to take action as essential to creating value in the face of uncertainty (Courage of Commitment).

Caring Empathy: The ability to care for, identify with, and honor others, while striving to understand differing points of view. All there is, in the physical realm, is difference, which requires the ability seek mutual understanding and the capacity to view the polar-opposites of “self-other” as complimentary (Self-Other Unity). This is enhanced by honoring the dignity and legitimacy of each individual’s stake in their proposed ideals by seeing and feeling IN their world views (Stakeholder Perspective). Of course, the integration of mind, heart, and imagination to inform empathy and ethics in relationships and actions is required for empathy to actually exist (Intellectual and Emotional Maturity).

Conversational Reflection: The ability to reflect on the experience of professional practice by engaging in learning conversations. An extremely valuable quality is the ability to always and INITIALLY be open to believing in potentiality and possibility by striving to learn from new ideas, experiences, developments and challenges (Believing). The next step (SECONDLY) is to be open to doubting new encounters only after one has EXHAUSTED all the possibilities learned from believing (Doubting). Finally, individuals can now write a new story of meaning once they have reflected on the previous two steps (believing and doubting).

Continuous Learning: The ability to view every experience as an opportunity for continuous learning. These individuals are able to learn from “failure” by courageously facing failure and understanding it as an unexpected gift to enhance learning (Learning in Failure). Conversely, these individuals are also able to learn from their successes and to see them with humility and as another unexpected learning experience (Learning in Success). Finally, individuals with this thinking habit are intentional in their drive to learn by planning formal and informal learning experiences with the awareness that such learning will only enhance them personally and professionally.

About Shawn Athanasios

A little bit about me. I received my BA from California State University, Northridge in Speech Communication and my MA in Culture and Communication from New York University (NYU). My Master’s degree was within the field of Interpersonal Communication and Conflict Management and my thesis topic was Meta-Cognition and Human Defensiveness. I wrote about the importance of individuals learning how to understand their defensiveness and negative thinking habits as a way to improve the overall cohesiveness within their human relationships. Curerently, I am an Adjunct Professor at SAE Institute, and my pasrt teaching experience includes several of the top Universities in the U.S. (NYU, LIM College, Pace University, Manhattan College & Georgia State University). My teaching experience includes the following courses: Interviewing Strategies, Intro to Human Communication and Culture, Interpersonal Communication, Small Group Communication, Principals and Theories of Communication, Public Speaking and Theories of Speech Communication I decided to create my own Coaching Business (JAAS Coaching) under the umbrella of Personal and Career Development for those looking to enhance their current profession, change careers, discover their deepest passions, communicate and manage conflict more effectively, achieve high levels of motivation, and find balance with their total self by offering a holistic approach to career and personal development. My eBook, "The Soul Search Before the Job Search," encompasses all of my work as a Personal and Executive Coach. My website/blog is www.JAAScoaching.comLinks to an external site. I have had many fulfilling experiences that include being raised in Laos, Ghana, India & Egypt by parents of the U.S. Foreign Service and Diplomatic community, teaching ESL in South Korea, serving as a Primary Counselor for kids out of Juvenile Hall, and mentoring grade school children through a Psychologist’s referred program. In addition, I am proud to have received a full scholarship for my Masters Degree at NYU, to have been the sole recipient of the Rosenberg scholarship and for graduating Magna Cum Laude upon completion of my graduate degree. I also presented two papers at the New York Speech Communication Association (NYSCA) conference while at Graduate School where I discussed the importance of taking full ownership of one’s shortcomings as essential to inducing change within oneself and one’s environment and how to be an effective interpersonal communicator. And finally, I was voted Faculty of The Year and Georgia State University after just one semester on the job! The article can be found on my website/blog. My volunteer work is reflected through participating in Buddhist Activities as a member of the Soka Gakkai International, the largest Buddhist lay organization in the world. Previously, I was the Young Men’s Division Leader for Houston District, I transcribed the World Tribune to audiotapes for the blind Buddhist members, I published an article in the Soka Gakkai’s Living Buddhism magazine and was a volunteer staff writer for the organization’s newspaper (The World Tribune). I continues to lead group discussions on Nichiren Buddhist Theory.
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