Business leaders will be familiar with the idea of reflective thinking and the merits of encouraging their team to reflect on their daily practice in order to create an atmosphere of continuous improvement and development.  However, the idea of reflexive thinking sometimes falls by the wayside, even though it’s potentially more important than reflection because it makes you question the origin of your beliefs. Throughout my MBA journey I’ve learnt the benefits of being reflexive, especially in group situations, because it allows me to fully engage with others without assumptions or preconceptions. This mind set could be applied to any situation in any industry to boost productivity, enhance your hive-brain and improve competitive advantage through economies of learning.

Why should you question your beliefs?

The process of learning and socialisation is deeply imbedded in our past experiences, gender, age, social environment and culture. As children, we believe just about everything that our elders tell us because we have no reason to question the validity of the information we are fed. We act and react to situations according to our core values and beliefs, but what if the origins of these beliefs are incorrect? My mother’s friend used to cut 2 inches off the end of her beef joint and throw it away before roasting it. Mum was confused by her behaviour, and when questioned, her friend said that it was the way her mother prepared roast beef and so assumed it was the correct method because her mother was a wonderful cook. This prompted the friend to ask her mother why she trimmed the beef and she replied, “Because my pan was too small.” By choosing to question the origin of her belief, she was able to uncover the truth behind her strange practice and reduce her food waste. Although this is a light-hearted example, it highlights the impact of how misunderstandings in our belief systems can lead to unusual, illogical decision making, which can negatively impact your business and hinder personal development. Popular TV shows such as QI and Trust Me I’m a Doctor, try to highlight areas of general ignorance and encourage sceptical thinking, but in a world full of fake news and long-held assumptions it can be difficult to distinguish fact from fiction.

Analyse the origins of your beliefs

Just because you were taught something at school, heard it from a colleague or discovered it in the media doesn’t necessarily mean it’s true. Questioning the origin of the content and the motivation for sharing it, could help you identify the spurious facts we are surrounded by.

Be open to learning something new

Consulting multiple sources, without bias, will broaden your general knowledge and develop a more critical way of thinking. You never know where the next big idea will come from so stay open and listen to people, without judgement. Questioning the origins of your beliefs may seem daunting but you could open up a whole new world of learning and progress along the way.

Thank you to Janine for writing this fascinating blog on questioning our beliefs and practices through reflexive thinking. Find out more about Janine’s course and the new MBA program.


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