Just had a discussion with a software engineer that stated the younger generation of college kids, and to a larger extent people in general, are having difficulty with their thinking processes. Namely, the difference between critical thinking and cynical thinking.
Critical thinking is where you analyze a problem and determine a solution using cause and effect of various processes. You take “no sides” of an issue, but move forward with a best solution toward a vision of what’s possible. You can sort of see it here at my The glass is half full, the glass is half empty, but …. blog post.
Cynical thinking is where you lack or do not take into consideration various aspects of a problem and consider all of the alternatives to come to a logical and appropriate answer or solution to a problem. A contemptuous or mocking attitude of various ideas or solution is developed toward ALL solutions. Henry Ford told his engineers to work on an eight cylinder engine and they stated it could not be done. He said work on it until you solve it. It took them over a year, but they did it.
Too often those in “political circles,” and we’re not just talking liberal versus conservative but also need to include both start-up businesses and Fortune 500 companies, swap the definition of cynical and critical to fit their purposes. You also find this among workers and management, men and women, and a host of other “sides” that are taken. What is critical, the ability to weigh alternatives, soon becomes cynical, the failure to see or want any progress toward an amenable solution. You get good research from Jim Collins’s book “Good to Great” how he debunks all of these leadership and management myths (See his Level 4 leadership versus a Level 5 and you’ll get the meaning).
Self versus Selfish Interest. Along with critical versus cynical, there is self interest and selfish interest. Self interest is when you take into consideration your needs first, then those around you. Selfish interest is when you ONLY consider yourself and no one else’s interests. Consider taking a flight with an airline. The cabin depressurizes and O2 masks come down. You’re told to put on the mask yourself, first, then to your child or others. That’s selfish interests. You take care of yourself first, then consider others. In a selfish interest, you’d put on the O2 mask and do not help anyone else out.
So, which thinking do you have?
Some quotes from my book How to Start a Business: Mac Version to think about:
No pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars or sailed an uncharted land, or opened a new doorway for the human spirit. Helen Keller
The man with a new idea is a crank until the idea succeeds. Mark Twain