Critical, Positive Thought

In the past few months, I seem to detect a pattern. It seems as if critical thought is being confused with negative thinking. “If I can find something wrong, that means I’m a critical thinker.” If you stand before a crowd and say “I’ve found five things wrong with society and schools and technology today,” they will be impressed and listen to your insights.

There’s two immediate benefits to this. First, it’s a lot easier to agree on fears and disappointments than on positive or optimistic thoughts. Second, you can win over an audience without having to discuss any solutions or improvements. Basically, blamining someone else is good enough for applause and agreement. Yep, things are worse than we thought– thanks for painting a “more realistic” picture.

It takes a lot of courage to employ critical, positive thought. In the same way you can find 20 percent inaccuracy in a system, you can also argue for the achievement of the majority of most systems, and speculate how the percentage of success could grow and be greater appreciated. Eradicating error isn’t going to happen, but growing on strengths can occur.

In the end, you can define things by what they don’t do, or by what they do or can do. As much as I didn’t really appreciate (or like) Jim Collin’s presentations about “Good to Great,” at least his core messages were positive. Growth in an organization doesn’t occur by making a longer and longer list of deficiencies and trying to fix them all. Instead, making a list of things to “stop doing,” and investing more in the positive achievements of the group to create growth is a more positive plan.

It does take a bit of courage to be positive, however. Short term gains and agreement may also be more sparse. In the long run, however, a group can move forward in authentic ways.

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