Why How You Think is Killing Your Career


Everyone has a mind almost nobody knows how that minds works.-Art Markman (1)

Most of us like to believe we’re thinkers and pretty good ones at that. But, the sad truth is, we aren’t. According to University of Texas Psychology professor and author of Smart Thinking Art Markman, we suck at thinking, and it’s to our demise.

We’re not wired to think. Our brains use tremendous amounts of our energy and are always working to minimize its workload. One of the tools our brain uses to do this is to default to habits or the expected, to do what we’ve always done. To the brain, thinking is hard work and if it can avoid it, it will.

Two reasons we don’t think:

  1. The brain is 3% of our body weight but consumes 20 – 25% of our energy. It’s trying to minimize the amount of time it spends working
  2. We want to be told what to do. We want a procedure

Therefore, if success is your goal, learning to keep the brain thinking is key.

Thinking is critical to success in the 21st century because of how quickly the world is changing. Without thinking, all we do is do what we did before and, therefore, we won’t be able to respond to the rapid changes and challenges of today’s business environment. Thinking allows us to be flexible and responsive to change. It’s our biggest and best weapon to change. It keeps us from operating form autopilot.

In the Think chapter of Not Taught, I highlight a 2010 IBM study of over 1500 CEOs. In it, seventy-nine percent said, the world was become increasingly more complex and that they don’t have the talent or leadership to navigate it. This observation, this problem their experiencing, is a result of the inability of people to think.

If you want to be successful in today’s world, you have to improve your ability to think. You have to learn to think. Believe it or not thinking is a skill that can and must be developed, like any other skill. Thinking is a behavior that can be learned. It’s not an automatic reflex. You have to treat the thinking part of your brain like any muscle and commit to using it.

How odd does that sound?  You have to commit to thinking, because if you don’t, you won’t.

To be a better thinking requires learning, or more specifically the acquisition of knowledge and information (Chapter 13 Deliberate Learning) and ask why.

According to Art, most of us suffer from the illusion of explanatory depth. In other words, we don’t know nearly as much about something as we THINK we do.  Therefore, the question why helps us understand more deeply the context of a situation.

If you’re trying to accelerate your career, if, you’re reading Not Taught, and you’re committed to getting to the next level, learning to think is part of the critical path.

Watch this episode of Taught Leaders with Art and take copious notes. Art shares concrete steps and approaches on how to engage your brain that will help you and your team become better thinkers.

Art is a genius when it comes to the skill of thinking. I recommend you follow him and learn from him at all these places:

Twitter: @abmarkman

Book: Smart Thinking

Podcast: Two Guys on Your Head


The Taught Leader series is a weekly series highlighting those who exemplify the tools and skills discussed in my new book Not TaughtEach week I highlight a different chapter and share the killer stories of the people who have become experts in the area. I provide readers with all the wonderful goodness these early adopters and 21st-century success stories have to offer. The goal, to help you learn the new rules to success and crush it in the 21st-century.

What, you haven’t read Not Taught? 

Then get it here. Hurry up; you’re already late.

You can download a free chapter of Not Taught here;

Listen to the Taught Leaders Series on iTunes here: