To be a successful adult requires the ability to think and plan strategically. The quality of your thoughtfulness, i.e., the careful concern for the resulting consequences of each decision and action, may be the single most important skill of an effective leader. This skill does not materialize all by itself and you’re not able to learn it from a book or even a college course. This is one of those life skills that must be learned by doing.
How to practice thoughtful thinking?
What does it look like when someone is practicing to become a thoughtful thinker? It looks exactly like making a mistake in judgment. When you’ve made a decision and something goes awry you’ve learned to think a bit farther ahead of the immediate outcome next time. With each subsequent mistake in judgment, you learn to think even farther until one day you’ve mastered the skill of thoughtful strategic thinking.
Practice is required
All big life lessons are learned through practice and it’s best to start practicing as early in life as possible while mistake consequences are low. It’s especially true for thoughtful thinking. The mistakes in judgment for a child can be as simple as putting off math homework until the last minute only to find that you need materials from the library which is now closed. A ten-year old will learn to think a bit farther out next time to ensure he or she will have access to the resources needed. For a teenager, the mistakes in judgment can count much more so it’s best not to wait the lesson. Earlier practice in thoughtful strategic thinking will help immensely when your child is faced with tough decisions, such as deciding whether to ride in a car with a person who has been drinking. This life skill transfers to all the decisions your child will make in life, so by having practiced and mastered thoughtful thinking early, maybe he or she won’t have to actually make the mistake of riding in that car.
Praise for Mistakes
Allow your children to practice thoughtful thinking. Welcome and praise their mistakes now as a way to proactively prepare them for successful futures. Don’t wait until the price for learning is too high.
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