Bob Selle

The Forsaken Art of Thinking by Rakesh Jain on LinkedIn HBR

Bob Selle


  • Published on Published onSeptember 30, 2017


Rakesh Jain

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Associate Professor- Business Strategy, HR & OB at RICS School of Built Environment, Amity University

27 articles

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A growing bias towards action is being observed across the world. Action has become rhetoric for all the problems and instant action is much sought after and celebrated. But growing chorus towards action is taking its toll on time available for thinking for the choice of action. Due to growing multitasking in life, people are forgetting the art and science of thinking. Is there an impact of the action bias on the thinking process?

 Life has never been faster in the earlier ages of civilization. Modern lifestyle has squeezed too many activities in the same quantity of time. While information and technology were invented to make life easier and more comfortable, it has pushed people towards more actions. Amount of activity in the daily life has grown exponentially due to growing need for travel, communication and socialization.

Our behavioral development moves through the cycle of unconscious, conscious and subconscious. This is how our brain acclimatizes itself to the external world and creates a necessary action-feedback mechanism to provide requisite support to sustenance of life. Ancient scriptures have highlighted the purpose of life to attain consciousness and birth-death-rebirth cycle is said to be the journey towards that destination.

Conscious zone of mind is about less action and more reflection while subconscious mind is programmed for managing the action reaction cycle. While the conscious brain is about processing information, creating new knowledge and consumes more energy, subconscious brain is about automation, routine and speed. Thinking is a conscious brain activity and it is essential for the mind to move away from action to shift its focus from subconscious to conscious zone.

Thinking is a pre-requisite for breaking the action- reaction cycle. A new action will always require thinking and in the absence of conscious brain activity, we will continue on the cycle of old action- reaction. Thinking is also necessary for finding solution to a new problem or devising new actions. In the absence of thinking we will choose our actions from the repository of old actions stored in the subconscious mind.

A growing focus on instant action along with the increasing shortage of time due to plethora of activities has created a vicious circle which has taken the toll on the process of thinking. Many readers will challenge this assumption with the statistics about growing research, innovations and technology. But my observation is not about thinking as a job but is about thinking as routine. I am not referring to outsourcing of thinking but mentioning about thinking as integral part of life.

Today, world is what it is because of thinking done by few people. Let us imagine the world what it would be if thinking becomes a part of life for all the people living on this world. To achieve this goal, we will have to stop the celebration of action and allow time and space for introspection, meditation and reflection. A mindful action is the need of the hour and is the only way to make this world a better place for the ones who are living and for the ones who will inhabit this earth in future.

Additional Readings:

Is Critical Thinking a Conscious Brain Activity?

Create a Thinking Organization

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