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The Cognitive AESTHETIC

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I’ve tried for weeks now to come up with a way to share this model and it’s just not coming out the way I planned/expected. That said, I’m going to share this strategy in as straight forward a manner as possible so I stop delaying the process. My images are not beautiful yet but the information is exactly what you need if you want to ramp up your (or your child’s) ability to think in a way that yields results. If you have ANY questions or want additional insight about anything I’m sharing here, please don’t hesitate to post your question here or contact me directly.

The Cognitive AESTHETIC

The Cognitive AESTHETIC is the name of the strategy. Each of the letters in AESTHETIC stands for an important activity we (as thinkers) need to engage in if we want to effectively and efficiently process information. I developed this strategy to help people understand exactly what type of thinking is required to get where we want to be professionally and personally. NOTE: I will explain where the name of the strategy came from and how it came to exist later. For now, let’s focus on achieving an understanding of each step in the strategy.

A – ATTEND (Tune In)

Very few people, no matter what their current situation in life, understand power. In fact, some of you may feel more comfortable exchanging the term power with influence because talking about power feels odd. Either way, the secret to achieving power/influence is recognition, or consciousness, of power/influence. And you can only achieve this type of recognition if you are tuned in and paying attention to what is going on around you.

Being fully tuned in and attending to what is actually going on around us is tough duty though. For many, our primary obstacle is our schedules, activities, and commitments. For others it’s technology that has dulled our ability to pay attention. We are simply spending too much of our free time doing the many types of nothing that are so readily available via smart phones, iPads, televisions, and video gaming systems. Apparently, since you’re here, you are in search of something more.

When was the last time you spent some designated time thinking about your life and the things going on around you…not worrying about things—but simply thinking? If you’re not sure how to go about developing your ability to sit and think, here are some tips for getting started.

Interesting Fact: Albert Einstein (one of the greatest minds known) was skilled at sitting and thinking. In fact, it was while simply sitting and thinking (what many would call day dreaming) that he came up with the questions upon which his most famous works were based.

Step 1 – Find Your Silent Place

For me it all started in my car. I turned off the radio and iTunes and started using driving time to think. It was amazing how quickly I reaped the benefits of this simple change.

I’d drop my son off at school and use my fifteen-minute commute to think through my projects. I can’t explain why the quality of my thoughts in the car was better than that of my standard everyday thoughts. But, very quickly I was coming up with better options and solutions that yielded better outcomes. I so value the benefits of finding my silent place that I have never gone back to listening to the radio in my car during my daily commute.

Your silent place may be found in your favorite chair, in front of your fireplace, or sitting on a bench in a park. It doesn’t matter where it is. Just put in the required effort to find it.

Step 2 – Choose A Focal Point

Once you have found your best silent place, don’t just let your mind wander. Focus on something specific. For me it was my current projects. I’d think through each one and what I thought should happen next, what might happen next, and what would happen if things got wonky. When working with team members, subject matter experts, technology, budgets, etc. things often went differently than what was planned. However, because of my thinking time I was rarely caught off guard when things didn’t happen as planned. In my world, this was life changing and had a huge impact on my stress level, my ability to make good decisions, and my ability to roll with whatever unfolded. The next step is the key to making great decisions.

Step 3 – Build Your Endurance & Intensity

As soon as you get to the point that you are regularly investing in your thinking sessions, begin to build your endurance and intensity. That’s right, work to think for longer periods of time and achieve deeper thoughts.

If you’re not sure how to go about this, use a concept map to guide your thoughts. Here’s an example of one I developed a while back. I removed that actual content and replaced it with the levels so it’s easier to see how the thoughts are related. I started with the topic in the largest circle there at the bottom and kept exploring each subtopic until the full view of my thought process looks something like this.


This is how we as professionals and students should be thinking about the projects we’re working on and the material we’re studying. It’s this type of thorough thinking that yields results that get us promoted or as learners allows us to build a strong knowledge base.

Step 4…and beyond – Repeat

Once you get to the point that your thoughts begin to map out like this example simply repeat this approach every chance you get. After a while you will be able to tune in to situations, projects, and information in an entirely new way.

Invest the time required to successfully ATTEND (tune in) and you will not regret it. -cd

When was the last time you spent some designated time thinking about your life and the things going on around you…not worrying about things—but simply thinking? If you’re not sure how to go about developing your ability to sit and think, here are some tips for getting started.


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