“Jay, your problem is you have too much time to think,” I was told by someone earlier in the week. I have to admit, even in jest, his remark caught me by surprise. I replied to him, “Your comment doesn’t even make sense.”
The statement reminded me of a neighbor I had many years ago, Nicki. I purchased one of those fancy barbecue grills which I had to assemble myself. After reading the 20-page instructional manual that resembled instructions and diagrams for assembling a space shuttle, I sought the help of my neighbor. Nicki was an Italian immigrant who brought his family to America about 25 years ago and created a successful life for himself and his family. His wife worked as a bookkeeper and Nicki was always busy working at odd jobs. Nicki neatly arranged all the pieces of the grill and studied them. In less than two hours, the grill was cooking steaks and hamburgers.
When he finished and fired up the grill, I asked, “Nicki, how did you assemble this so quickly without even looking at the instructions?”
“Fact is,” Nicki replied, “I can’t read English. And when you can’t read, you have to think.”
The Latin word for Thinking or Way Of Thinking is sententia. When my colleague told me that my problem was that I had too much time to think, I felt the need to study the concept of thinking a little more. You see, it’s my opinion that most people think too little, or let others do their thinking for them. And I thought the word sententia was appropriate because the word sentential is derived from sententia; and means “relating to or involving a proposition in logic.”
A synonym for logic is reason or common sense. It is my belief that because we, individually and as a society, do so little constructive thinking, we have truly lost our way in making logical, common sense decisions for our better future. To test this hypothesis, just ask 10 or 15 people you know how much time they spend each day in quiet, uninterrupted solitude doing nothing but thinking. Ask them how much time they spend by themselves doing nothing but coming up with new ideas, solutions to problems, and anticipating the future so they can take full advantage of it (Protean thinking, BTW). If you’re like the majority of us, you’ll get about 10-15 blank stares or, get a response like, “have you lost your mind?”
Indeed, with television, cell phones, Twitter, Facebook, computers, family pressures, work obligations, and hundreds of other distractions in the course of a day, a week, and a lifetime, the art of sententia – thinking – is becoming a lost art in America.
If you had a gift and didn’t use it…
If you were broke but had a million dollars in your back pocket but didn’t use it, you’d stay broke. You would remain poor, even when you had the capacity to have a fortune. Human beings, unlike any other species on earth, have the extraordinary gift of thought. We have the unique ability to think, to change how we think, and to raise the level of our conscious thoughts. Thoughts are ideas that take shape to shape our life. But the sad truth is that when we don’t use this gift, just like when we don’t use the million dollars in our back pockets, we remain poor in thought, settle for much less than we can be, and remain improvised to meet life’s opportunities.
What are we thinking?
It’s been documented that the average person has between 50,000 – 60,000 thoughts a day. But whose thoughts are they and how long have we had the same 50,000 – 60,000 thoughts? We live in a time where the rest of the world, led by developing nations, are constantly thinking about how they can compete with America, how they can lead a better quality life, and how they can solve serious problems leading to virtually unlimited opportunities. So I am thinking and practicing sententia; and asking… what are we thinking here in America?
▬ Are elected officials “thinking” about how best to solve the serious problems that we face for the benefit of America?
▬ Is the media (in general) “thinking” about ways they can help solve differences; not add fuel to the fire of an already divided nation?
▬ Are educational leaders “thinking” of new ways to quickly change education so we can successfully compete with the rest of the world?
▬ Are we all “thinking” about ways to take individual responsibility for our futures, rather than place our futures in the hands of employers or the government? (Proteanism)
▬ Are we all “thinking” about ways, everyday, to better improve the quality of our lives for ourselves and our loved ones?
Truth be told: I think not.
Jay Block is an industry pioneer and the nation’s leading motivational career coach. Jay is a best-selling author of 15 books, including his latest blockbuster: 101 Best Ways To Land a Job in Troubled Times (McGraw-Hill). He has a 20-year record of success for creating and recreating the career management industry. His website is: www.jayblock.com