Think about the way you think–the process of thinking. Just because you have a brain no more guarantees you can think than having a mouth guarantees you can communicate.
I got tired of being misled by those who smiled at me while saying, “Trust me.”
So, as a matter of rational self-defense, I began studying the process of thinking rationally.
Conclusion: most people do not think rationally at all. They confuse rationalizing with being rational. And those two processes are polar opposites, even though they sound like the same thing.
A big difference that determines who is in control of your mind
Rationalizing: making up your mind first, then looking for information that supports what you want to believe (or others want you to believe without thinking about it).
Rational: gathering information, then processing it systematically to guide you to what you should believe about it. You are in control or your decisions.
What causes us to rationalize?
I’ve been studying the thinking process for over twenty-five years. Why? I felt that I had been misled by the biases and belief systems of others who merely adopted what they had been taught without any rational investigation into why they believed as they did.
No blame intended. They were well intentioned and just wanted me to believe the right things, according to what they had always been taught by other well intentioned people as the right things.
So I did the natural thing. I bought into their beliefs. It seemed like the rational thing to do.
Until . . . I discovered information counter to what I had been told to believe. And it troubled me.
I found out there is a term for that feeling–cognitive dissonance. The feeling you get when you realize you hold a belief that is not supported by the information you gathered, but you continue to hold that belief anyway.
I didn’t like that feeling. The quest began.
I had to come to an understanding of why I believed what I did.
As I embarked, I was astounded that so few were with me on that journey. When I told them what I was doing, some patronized me, “Good luck, and I hope you find yourself.” Others stared back blankly as if they did not understand the concept. And others outright ridiculed me as a liberal elite.
I did not know what a liberal elite was, and come to find out neither did my critics. The best I could determine was that a liberal elite is what they called anyone who contradicted their opinions.
Why bother with rational information to support what you believe when hurling derogatory insults is good enough?
There’s nothing new about that tactic. There’s even a term for it–epithet. The tactic places a derogatory label (a.k.a. name calling) on a person, an idea, a point of view, a way of doing something, or an institution, to make listeners biased against it.
The speaker is trying to get you to believe him by calling his opponents names that you would also find reprehensible. In other words, when you don’t have a rational argument to back up what you are saying, start calling your opponent names or belittling them or slurring them.
The labeling tactic pretty much works every time on people who are in rationalizing mode.
I’m assuming you do want to think for yourself. You can learn to listen to all sides of a position, educate yourself on a broad range of facts and perspectives, understand the context in which the facts exist, apply a critical thinking process, and come to an informed conclusion. Think rationally.
You’ll risk being called a liberal elite. But it’s worth it.
Take back control of your mind, and be more
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Tom McDaniel, President, American Fidelity Foundation
Tom McDaniel chairs the citizens advisory board for the Oklahoma City MAPs-3 initiative (Metropolitan Area Projects). The MAPs project has revitalized an urban center from the verge of blight in the 1980s to a teeming destination location with sports venues, convention space, improvements to public schools, and other major infrastructure improvements.
A vibrant downtown area is emerging with retail, hospitality, entertainment, sports, and residential space. Oklahoma City is quickly becoming one of the nation’s most attractive cities for Millennials and young professionals.
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In this episode of The Spirit of Leading, Tom discusses the transformational impact the project’s three iterations. Tom also discusses his approach to leading the citizens advisory board and the value of citizen involvement and collaboration with the elected city officials and other interest groups in the community.
Tom McDaniel (3rd from left) joins OKC Mayor Mick Cornett (center) and other civic leaders in a MAPs 3 groundbreaking ceremony.
The Oklahoma City MAPS-3 project
Background of the OKC MAPs project
American Fidelity Foundation
OK Cleats4 Kids Foundation, founded by Tom’s son and daughter-in-law, Mark and Stacy McDaniel
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Ken Parker, CEO of NextThought, will tell you the mission of his company is to, “Change the world. Have fun. Make money.”
On this episode of The Spirit of Leading I talk with Ken about his transformational journey in educational software design. Ken laments that each wave of technological advancement has promised to reinvent how we educate, yet we’ve only seen those promises, “dashed on the rocks of reality.”
Ken believes he has identified the missing ingredient, and it’s implicit within the premise of the world wide web and available to us through the technology of the internet.
Furthermore, Ken discusses what he learned about running a company from his experience in aerospace engineering and on Wall Street.
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Ken Parker works at his standup desk at NextThought
The University of Oklahoma uses NextThought software to make many of its classes available online through Janux. See here. Go to the OU Janux home page.
Learn more about NextThought.
Watch Ken’s TEDxOU presentation.
The right people seem to show up in my life at the right time.
Most have befriended me and loved me. I’m glad several remain close.
Some showed up just in time to help me when I needed it most; then, they were gone. And I miss them.
Some pushed, prodded, and poked me, and tested the limits of my patience and resolve. I’m glad they finally left me alone, although I’m better for the experience.
Several coached and mentored me and showed me how to be INPowered. They believed in me and brought out the best in me. They helped me INLarge my expectations of living. To them I am eternally indebted.
Now it’s my turn to do likewise.
Without those who saw something in me
and helped me to see it too,
I could not be