Eleven Kinds of Thinking

How you think matters. It impacts your leadership, your decision-making, and the success of your business. This week’s Tip by John Maxwell details the many types of thinking available to you. As you read through the list, ask yourself: “Do I think this way?

“Truly successful decision making relies on a balance between deliberate and instinctive thinking.” – Malcolm Gladwell

Eleven Kinds of Thinking

By John Maxwell

We all have default ways of thinking: Specific ways that we go about processing what we know. When we expand our thinking abilities by taking on new styles, we expand our ability to process more effectively. We make better decisions. We become more resourceful. We improve our ability to lead.

Just knowing there are other ways to think will expand your thinking! As you read through the list below, ask yourself: “Do I think this way?”

1. “Big picture thinking: the ability to think beyond yourself and your world in order to process ideas with a holistic perspective.

2. Focused thinking: the ability to think with clarity on issues by removing distractions and mental clutter from your mind.

3. Creative thinking: the ability to break out of your ‘box’ of limitations and explore ideas and options to experience a breakthrough.

4. Realistic thinking: the ability to build a solid foundation on facts to think with certainty.

5. Strategic thinking: the ability to implement plans that give direction for today and increase your potential for tomorrow.

6. Possibility thinking: the ability to unleash your enthusiasm and hope to find solutions for even seemingly impossible situations.

7. Reflective thinking: the ability to revisit the past in order to gain a true perspective and think with understanding.

8. Questioning popular thinking: the ability to reject the limitations of common thinking and accomplish uncommon results.

9. Shared thinking: the ability to include the heads of others to help you think ‘over your head’ and achieve compounding results.

10. Unselfish thinking: the ability to consider others and their journey to think with collaboration.

11. Bottom-line thinking: the ability to focus on results and maximum return to reap the full potential of your thinking (p. 50-51).”


As you go through your day, notice which types of thinking you use. Which styles showed up? And which ways of thinking would you like to add to expand your ability to think better? Share with us below.

From: Maxwell, John, C. (2008). Make today count: the secret of your success is determined by your daily agenda. New York: Center Street

Reprinted with permission from the OSU Leadership Center, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, (614) 292-3114, http://leadershipcenter.osu.edu/