Deep Thinking

The purpose of thinking is to stop thinking. The reason is that thinking is a high energy activity: It takes massive amounts of energy to simply think. Whenever we think, we are therefore designed to return to automatic pilot as fast as possible. We run more than 95% of our life on automatic pilot. For example: After arriving home in your car, you suddenly realize that the last ten minutes of driving was not conscious, but simply on autopilot.

Deep thinking is rare. Yet, our professional life can seriously be enhanced by creating more moments to engage in deep thinking. This doesn’t come by itself: It takes a lot of effort to even decide on thinking.

I therefore predict that the most important future skill of any professional, leader or executive is the ability to engage in deep thinking on a regular basis. You’re paid to use your brains. This starts with deliberately tuning out noise and distractions to create a personal deep thinking zone. 

A simple approach to create a deep thinking zone is to go off-line: When you’re online, you simply react to the world. This pattern must be broken first. 

Cut all information input, take a sheet of paper and spend at least 30 minutes a day thinking, and capturing your thoughts on paper. Good subjects to use your precious mental energy on are ambitious goals, new opportunities, and solving interesting problems. 

The effective executive of the future will be the off-line executive. It’s time to step out of the hamster wheel and finally use your brains. 

Photo Credit: iStockPhoto/Anastasios71


Eef Rulkens
March 2, 2020 at 7:59 pm

Fully agree with you!
Deep thinking and if you are ‘online’ and connecting with people than I think there is a lot of potential in deep listening! Gr Eef

Paul Rulkens
March 6, 2020 at 6:59 am

Indeed Eef: deep listening is an underrated skill as well!.

Hans Gunther
September 21, 2020 at 12:26 pm

Paul, you claim some stats like %97 people are wrong, %95 are on autopilot, etc.
How reliable & accurate those stats? Where do you get the numbers?

    Paul Rulkens
    September 22, 2020 at 8:47 am

    Hi Hans, Daniel Kahneman -in his book Thinking: Fast and Slow- provides more insight into when we use System 1 (automatic pilot) and System 2 (active thinking). This is supported by the work of Edward de Bono. Brian Tracy has made the connection between innovation and goal achieving in his book Goals!

July 3, 2021 at 8:17 am

The article itself motivate the deep thinking process.Thank you.?

November 3, 2021 at 4:57 pm

I was missing out on deep thinking got to get back on track

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