On the flip side of the details and events of “Amenah’s Story,” where everyone had their approriate thinking caps on and played to their particular styles and strengths, sometimes (often) events do not play out so smoothly.
Following the January 12, 2010, earthquake that devastated Haiti, a bus pulled up to a checkpoint on the Dominican Republic. Inside were 33 children, aged from 2 to 12, who were being escorted by a group of ten Baptist missionaries. Instead of being passed through the check station, the children were taken off in one direction by authorities and the missionaries were taken in another direction and arrested on January 29 for kidnapping.
Laura Silsby, of Meridian, Idaho, who led the nine other members of the missionary group, told the media she was only trying to save suffering children. However, there were a few details she had not even shared with her fellow missionaries:
~ An area wide concern about human trafficking had madeauthorities exceptionally sensitive to the movement of people out of Haiti by anyone.
~ Many of the children being transported were not evenorphans. At least 20 of the children were from a single village and had living parents. Some of the parents told the AP they
willingly turned over their children to the missionaries on
the promise the Americans would educate them and allow
relatives to visit.
~ Silsby had decided the previous summer to create anorphanage in the Dominican Republic, and in November of
2009, she registered the nonprofit New Life Children’s
Refuge foundation in Idaho. After Haiti’s catastrophic earthquake, she accelerated the plan and recruited her fellow
~ A Dominican diplomat who said Laura had visited him thesame day the missionaries tried to take the children out of
the country told the AP that he had warned her that without
the proper papers, she could be arrested.
So, surprise, surprise, things went wrong at the border and the well-intentioned group was arrested.
As someone getting a clearer look at how good thinking works, you can, no doubt, spot a few errors in the thinking style in this situation. Now, contrast and compare that event with how smoothly Amenah’s situation went, in spite of numerous obstacles and adjustments.
Major Kevin Jarrard’s Good Samaritan background could have led him to leap to a decision, but he avoided making any assumptions and wanted to consider all aspects and steps before he took any action. He also played to an array of supportive careful thinkers who, each in his or her own way, helped to turn a difficult and complicated task into a doable one. Think about a time when you successfully thought through a challenging situation—a time when you did it right and you did it well.
Do you remember what you did that led to success? You might
even come up with, “not specifically,” because you might not have a vocabulary to describe successful thinking. You might have a broad sense of what worked and what didn’t. Not knowing your thinking style and how you replicate successes and avoid mistakes could create a rut instead of opening opportunities for new success.
If making a pros and cons list worked when you were trying
to decide if you wanted to go out on a date with someone in high school, then you are likely to keep using that process to help make decisions. Evaluating pros and cons has become part of your repertoire.
Collecting good techniques as you go along certainly isn’t bad, but it is not intentional. Relying on whatever happens to be in your toolkit is not the same as having a full set of tools in a well organized box. To be successful, really successful, you need to be intentional. You need to know your style and your skills, exactly what they are and how they work for you. The good news is that it is easy to learn.
Let’s look at how knowing, cultivating, and shaping positive thinking styles help you become a great thinker. We all possess thinking styles, which are positive habits that support the development of thinking skills. For example, approaching problems by carefully analyzing the situation or looking for facts and important details is a style.
You have preferred thinking styles, which means that you use certain positive behaviors more frequently and across various situations. You can access those behaviors quickly and comfortably. So, you lead with your preferred styles as you build your thinking skills. That is what successful people do—they leverage their strengths.