The line between average thinking and high-level thinking is often defined by perspective. Being a high-level thinker isn’t about how many facts you know, but rather how you use and interpret them.
According to psychology, there are some telltale signs that separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to high-level thinkers.
But what exactly are these signs? And how can you tell if you’re one of these high-level thinkers?
In this article, I’ll share with you the 9 signs say indicate you’re a high-level thinker.
Let’s get started.
Curiosity is more than just a desire to discover. It’s a fundamental trait of a high-level thinker.
Psychology often links curiosity to intellectual growth. It’s the driving force that leads us to ask questions, seek out new experiences and continually learn.
High-level thinkers don’t just take things at face value. They delve deeper, question conventional wisdom, and actively seek out different perspectives.
If you find yourself asking “why?” or “how?” frequently, it’s a good indication that you’re a high-level thinker.
You’re not content with surface-level understanding; you want to explore the underlying mechanisms and principles.
Being curious doesn’t just make you knowledgeable, it broadens your horizons, challenges your assumptions and helps you make better decisions.
After all, the more information you have, the more informed your decisions can be.
If you possess a burning desire to learn and understand the world around you, congratulations! You’re demonstrating one of the key signs of a high-level thinker.
2) Critical thinking
Another sign of a high-level thinker is the ability to think critically. And I’ve personally seen how this trait can make a significant difference.
A while back, I was part of a team working on a project. We were facing a roadblock and most people agreed on a seemingly easy solution. But something didn’t sit right with me.
I decided to take a step back and critically evaluate the situation. Rather than just going with the flow, I asked myself, “What are we missing here?” I analyzed the problem, questioned the assumptions we were making, and weighed the potential outcomes of our proposed solution.
Turned out, the easy solution was just a band-aid fix that could have resulted in bigger problems down the line.
By thinking critically, I was able to suggest an alternative approach that addressed the root cause of our roadblock.
Critical thinking is all about breaking down information and making your own, well-thought-out decisions.
It’s not about just accepting things as they are, but really poking and prodding to see what’s underneath.
The famous psychologist Carl Jung once said, “Thinking is difficult, that’s why most people judge.”
This hits the nail on the head. If you’re the type who doesn’t just go with the crowd and loves to ask the tough questions, you might be a top-notch thinker.
Open-mindedness is a defining characteristic of high-level thinkers. It’s the willingness to consider different ideas and perspectives, even if they contradict our current beliefs.
In fact, did you know that the highest IQ societies in the world, like Mensa, actively encourage open-mindedness?
They understand that intelligence isn’t just about knowledge and skills, but also the willingness to learn and accept new ideas.
Being open-minded doesn’t mean blindly accepting everything you hear. It means being willing to consider different viewpoints and evaluate their merits based on evidence and reasoning.
High-level thinkers are often open to changing their minds if presented with compelling evidence.
They understand that clinging to outdated or incorrect beliefs doesn’t help growth or progress.
If you find yourself regularly challenging your own beliefs and considering alternative viewpoints, you’re displaying a clear sign of high-level thinking.
4) Ability to connect the dots
High-level thinkers have an uncanny ability to connect the dots. They can see patterns and relationships where others see chaos or randomness.
This ability isn’t limited to recognizing patterns in numbers or shapes. It extends to understanding the interconnectedness of ideas, events, and systems.
For instance, a high-level thinker might draw connections between seemingly unrelated fields like economics and psychology to gain deeper insights. Or they could use their understanding of cultural trends to anticipate changes in consumer behavior.
This ability to see the big picture and understand how different parts influence one another helps high-level thinkers make more accurate predictions and come up with innovative solutions.
If you find yourself naturally looking for patterns and making connections, you’re displaying a fundamental sign of high-level thinking.
It’s not just about noticing similarities, but about understanding the underlying relationships that drive these similarities.
5) Embracing uncertainty
Uncertainty is a fact of life, but how we react to it can reveal a lot about our thinking process. High-level thinkers tend to embrace uncertainty rather than shy away from it.
They understand that the world is complex and unpredictable. Rather than seeking absolute certainty, they embrace ambiguity and use it as a springboard for exploration and discovery.
High-level thinkers are comfortable with the idea that they don’t know everything and there’s always more to learn.
They see uncertainty as an opportunity to explore different possibilities and seek new knowledge.
If you’re someone who welcomes uncertainty as a part of life and uses it as an impetus for learning, you’re demonstrating one of the key signs of high-level thinking.
Uncertainty isn’t a barrier to understanding; it’s simply an invitation to dig deeper.
At first glance, empathy might not seem like a characteristic of high-level thinking. But when you delve deeper, it becomes clear that empathy is a significant part of advanced cognition.
Empathy allows us to understand and share the feelings of others. It’s what enables us to connect with people on a deeper level, and this connection is crucial for high-level thinking.
High-level thinkers use empathy to see things from different perspectives. This helps them understand the world better and make more informed decisions.
Think about it this way – understanding a problem from only one angle is like trying to understand a sculpture by looking at it from only one side. You miss out on the full picture.
Through empathy, we can understand the full spectrum of human experience, which gives us a richer and more nuanced understanding of the world.
So if you find yourself naturally empathizing with others, feeling their joys and their pains, then pat yourself on the back.
You’re showcasing one of the most beautiful aspects of high-level thinking. Because really, what is intelligence without understanding and compassion?
Resilience is a trait that high-level thinkers often possess. It’s the ability to bounce back from setbacks and keep going in the face of adversity.
I remember a time when I was working on a project that I was incredibly passionate about. But no matter how much effort I put in, things just didn’t seem to work out. I faced rejection after rejection and it felt like I was banging my head against a brick wall.
But instead of giving up, I decided to use these setbacks as a learning opportunity. I analyzed my failures, figured out what went wrong, and used this knowledge to improve my approach.
The experience taught me that failure isn’t the end of the road. It’s just a detour that can lead you to a better path if you have the resilience to keep going.
High-level thinkers don’t let failures define them. They see them as opportunities to learn and grow. They understand that resilience isn’t about never falling, but about getting up each time you fall.
After all, it’s not about how many times you fall, but how many times you get back up.
High-level thinkers exhibit a high degree of adaptability. They can adjust their thoughts and actions according to the situation at hand.
In a world that’s constantly changing, the ability to adapt is crucial. Whether it’s a change in business strategy, a shift in personal circumstances, or a global pandemic, high-level thinkers are able to navigate these changes effectively.
They do this by being flexible in their thinking. They don’t cling to old ideas or strategies just because they’ve worked in the past. Instead, they evaluate the current situation, consider different options and adjust their approach accordingly.
If you’re someone who is comfortable with change and can quickly adapt to new situations, you’re displaying a key characteristic of high-level thinking. It’s not just about surviving in a changing world, but thriving in it.
9) Lifelong learning
The most crucial trait of high-level thinkers is their commitment to lifelong learning. They understand that learning doesn’t stop once you leave school or university. It’s a continuous process that lasts a lifetime.
High-level thinkers are always seeking to expand their knowledge and skills. They read widely, engage in stimulating discussions, take courses, and constantly seek new experiences that can further their understanding of the world.
They also recognize the value of learning from mistakes and failures. They see these not as setbacks, but as opportunities for growth and learning.
Lifelong learning isn’t just about acquiring more knowledge. It’s about staying curious, open-minded, and adaptable in an ever-changing world. It’s about understanding that there’s always more to learn, more to explore and more to discover.
Final thoughts: It’s a journey
The path to high-level thinking is not simply a destination but an ongoing journey. It’s about constantly evolving, challenging yourself, and pushing the boundaries of your understanding.
Remember, high-level thinking isn’t about being the smartest person in the room. It’s about being open-minded, adaptable, and resilient. It’s about connecting the dots, embracing uncertainty, and empathizing with others.
And most importantly, it’s about being a lifelong learner. Because the world is a vast, complex place filled with endless mysteries to unravel and knowledge to uncover.
So whether you identify with all the traits listed or just a few, remember that high-level thinking is a journey that we’re all on. It’s not a checklist to complete but a mindset to embrace.
So keep questioning, keep exploring, and most importantly, keep learning. Because every step you take on this journey is a step towards becoming a better thinker, a better learner, and ultimately, a better version of yourself.