Getting Started

Getting Started

Getting started is always hard, especially when mental effort is required. Don’t you remember your high school years when starting your homework was always hard? But then once you got under way it was sometimes even hard to stop. Starting is difficult because thinking requires effort. Stopping can be equally difficult because successful effort drives motivation, the fuel for action.


Mission, Method, And Results

It’s the journal’s mission to educate readers in the methods of idea development and problem solving.

Thinking in Ink is a “systematic” approach teaching the whys and hows of idea development and problem solving. And because Thinking in Ink is “systematic,” the material in any single issue will attain full value only when integrated with material presented in both subsequent and previous issues.

The Thinking Foundation

Thinking in Ink is founded on two ideas — first that thinking is the prime cause of achievement and second that thinking can be improved upon. Many people implicitly deny these two simple ideas? Why?

The answer is rather simple really: most people don’t give much thought to the subject of thinking. But in order to discover the nature of thought you must actually think about thinking itself. Only by thinking about thinking can you acquire knowledge of it. And without a knowledge of thinking, how can you possibly discover its true nature as both the cause of your achievement and as a faculty that you can improve? You can’t.

In fact without making the vital connection between thinking and achievement you’re likely to hold the following common but incorrect assumption: that thinking and its processes are virtually that same for everyone, much like the senses, inherent and unchanging.

Accounting for differences in achievement among people while also holding this mistaken assumption requires that you attribute those differences to factors other than thinking — things like luck, hard work, experience or natural endowment.

Good News/Bad News

That thinking is the prime cause for achievement brings with it some good news and bad news. First the good news: you don’t have to depend on uncontrollable influences like genetic makeup, luck or society to achieve your goals with precision. But now the bad news: achievement requires both planning and execution, which you must first originate and then direct by you own conscious thinking effort. And thinking is just that — effort.

Thinking is Effort

Tying a shoe is simple; it seems automatic, doesn’t it? It requires little mental or physical effort. You probably don’t remember first learning to tie your shoe, but chances are you got frustrated. Learning to tie a shoe required focussed thinking, and consciously you had to be aware of exactly what to do next and with which hand you were to do it.

So while tying a shoe might now be automatic, learning to tie a shoe was both difficult and exhausting. This is so because learning requires thinking, and thinking demands effort. Here lies an important principle – it’s not “shoe tying” itself that’s so difficult; it’s “thinking” about shoe tying that is difficult.

This principle applies to the acquisition of all knowledge. To say that some specific subject matter is difficult is really to say that “thinking ” about that subject matter is difficult. Complex subjects are labeled as such because understanding them requires a great deal of thought, which, as you know now, requires effort.

Thinking Is Method

Not only does thinking require effort, but it also requires method. In fact thinking is itself method. Thinking is “a way” of understanding reality. Like any method it must be learned. It’s also true that you can improve your thinking, and this is the primary focus of Thinking in Ink.

This characteristic of thinking as “a method requiring effort” is important to help explode the common myth discussed earlier — that thinking, like one of the senses, is always active and operates virtually the same in all people. On the contrary. You must learn to think. It’s an acquired skill, and some are better at it than others. Focussing your mind always requires effort, and like any other choice you need a “reason” to exert the effort. You must be motivated.

Ink Notes:

  • Thinking is the prime cause for achievement.
  • Differences in thinking account for difference s behavior.
  • Thinking can be improved upon.
  • Thinking is a “method.”
  • Thinking requires “effort.”

Motivation, A Primary

Without understanding that “effort” is a requirement of thinking, motivation would have no meaning whatever. “Automatic thinking,” if such a thing existed, would be like animal instinct leading you to take action. But thinking is not like this, is it? It is your choice that begins the process, and the alternative is always available — the alternative to “not think.”

To think at all, therefore, requires a motive — a personal force that drives you to the necessity of thinking. Goals give you the motive. With goals in mind you are motivated to think of how to achieve them.

Goals, The Invocation

Motivation cannot be bought or sold. In fact motivation can never truly be invoked by an outside agent. Only you can motivate you, and goals are the tools that you must use in order to do that. Motivation is invoked by establishing goals.

Motivation manifests with the goal; to be motivated is first to be goal oriented. All motivated people have goals, whether they are explicitly stated or tacitly derived. To be motivated is, in a sense, to “feel” a goal.

Success, Measuring Results

With the above commentary on goals so must go an explanation of the term success. Success in the context of this journal does not describe wealth or fame. Success is merely a measurement that defines the relationship between the actual (result) and the desired or favored (goal).

Success has no meaning without knowledge of both the desired and actual result. With this in mind ask yourself the following question: “How can I be successful if I have no goals in mind?” You can’t, not by your own measurement at least.

Ink Notes

  • Motivation cannot be bought or sold.
  • Goals invoke motivation.
  • Motivation follows goal setting.
  • Motivation is to “feel” a goal.
  • Success is a measurement.
  • No goals — no success

Condensed Wrap-Up

Founding Principle: Thinking is necessary for achievement; thinking is method; thinking requires effort.

Conclusions: As a method thinking can be improved upon. Thinking is method, thinking is volitional. You either choose to do it or not to do it. Motivation follows goal setting. To know whether you achieve requires some kind of measurement. Success is the measure. Do you achieve what you intended? If not how close were you?

Levi Hill — Copyright 1993-2003

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