The Power of Critical Thinking

How asking yourself 6 questions can drastically improve for problem solving.

I’m sure you remember the 6  question words in English.  Who, When, Where What, Why and How.  Asking yourself these questions when you are problem solving will improve your problem solving abilities and yield better solutions because if you practice this, you are essentially practicing critical thinking.

When I have a problem to solve, the first question I ask myself is why.  Why do I want to solve this problem? I keep asking this question until I get to the root of my problem. I do this because I want to make absolutely sure I am focused on my real problem and not some related but non-essential problem.  For instance, if I want to try to make it rain, I would ask myself why. Because I want water on my field. Why? Because if the field doesn’t get water, my crops will die and I will die of starvation. Great – now I know my real problem is that I need to get water on my field. Making it rain is a possible solution, but not the only one.  This also helps me be properly motivated to solve my problem, because, I now know why it matters that I solve it.

The next questions are What.   What causes my problem? What might work to solve my problem? These are brain storming questions, but also skeptical questions. I want to make sure my problem solving is based in reality as that will give me the greatest opportunity for success.  By figuring out what might be causing my problem, I can also figure out what might work to solve it.

Now I need to ask myself How. How do I know that. This is a skeptical question to make sure I double check whether what I think I know about what is causing my problem and what might solve it is even true.   I can also ask How, to think about problems with implementing any potential solution.

The When and Where questions are very useful. Sometimes the solution to my problem is to wait. Not now, but then. Where is also useful because what I might want to do can’t be done where I am, but if I move? Maybe.  These are critical questions to developing a winning strategy.

Finally, the question of Who.  Who is going to implement my solution?  If it isn’t me, I am relying on someone else. That can often work and it is always very helpful. But ultimately, you need to be responsible for solving your own problems.

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