What’s more important? Intelligence or critical thinking?

What’s more important? Intelligence or critical thinking?

There’s an emerging thought that whilst human intelligence helps people get good grades leading to good jobs, making good life decisions and staying out of gaol (mostly), it doesn’t make them healthier or happier or live any longer. Most people aspire to be smarter however it’s a sad fact that your level of intelligence is determined by genetics. It’s hard to grow more intelligence!

What isn’t hard to do however, is work hard and think critically, an ability not measured or captured by an IQ test. Critical thinking is the ability to think rationally, put aside biases and hindsight and possibly be a devil’s advocate, an amiable sceptic as described by Heather A. Butler in her paper “Why do smart people do foolish things”. It is possible to train yourself to think more critically and I believe those of us in business need to gather intellectual resources to build a sustainable competitive advantage. For those of us whose job it is to solve client problems, a healthy dose of both attributes is essential.

Surveys show that critical thinkers experience fewer negative life events and is associated with wellness and longevity. The best part is that you can improve your critical thinking skills! Food for thought……


Men deserve the best possible support regardless of where they live

Continuing my theme about assumptions and how they can railroad us, I wonder what percentage of the population assume that breast cancer kills more Australian women than prostate cancer kills our Aussie men. Before my family’s brush with prostate cancer, leading to my pro bono role as Deputy Chair of Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia (PCFA) NSW, I assumed far fewer men were affected with the disease than women with breast cancer. I also assumed it was an ‘older man’s issue’ until my family member was diagnosed aged in his early 50’s. The fact is that more men die of prostate cancer in Australia than women die of breast cancer.

This isn’t a competition between the two – a decline in every kind of cancer is the end result we want, but it does serve to stress to men that prostate cancer is a serious health issue.

What is safe to assume is that men living in regional and rural Australia are up to 21% more likely to die of prostate cancer than their metropolitan counterparts. Their access to medical advice and treatment can be severely impacted by the tyranny of distance, often resulting in delayed diagnosis leading to terminal outcomes.

Nick my cleaner, who featured in my last chat, was diagnosed recently after years of ongoing symptoms, which were left untreated. By this time his PSA (prostate specific antigen) blood test level was very high, and he is currently undergoing a regime of overarching treatment. His outlook thankfully is positive and he openly encourages all his friends, clients and acquaintances to make sure they know the symptoms and take PCFA’s advice. “PCFA recommends that men over the age of 50, or over the age of 40 if they have a family history of prostate cancer, speak to their doctor about being tested for prostate cancer at their next health check.

Nick regales not just the men in his circle but their wives and families as well. As Nick says “My prostate cancer diagnosis is affecting everyone in my family. My wife, children, my mother and our extended family and friends have been touched, and have rallied with incredible support.”

Breast cancer specialist nurses have been walking the journey with women who are suffering from the disease for many years. In recent years Specialist Prostate Cancer Nurses have helped alleviate the suffering and the apprehension of prostate cancer patients and their families and friends. Last week PCFA announced that 14 more Specialist Prostate Cancer nurses have joined the network.

Take a moment to view Professor Anthony Lowe discuss the challenges of men in regional and rural Australia. I urge every man over 50 not to assume symptoms are just an annoying distraction – please talk to your doctor who may recommend further investigation. Early detection is vital. Ladies over 50, please support your men, as well as looking after your own health. A mammogram every two years or as directed by your doctor may save your life.


My company’s cleaner plays a significant role in our company. He’s a good cleaner and also a good listener so I’ve found out. He was recently diagnosed with a potentially serious disease which led us to be at a local coffee shop talking about how he would manage his business whilst undergoing treatment.

Having assured him that we’d be fine with however he wanted to handle our office cleaning, we got to chatting, sitting in the sun and having a cuppa. He made some very insightful observations on what he hears and sees during his time with us early in the morning. Which brings me to the subject of this tête á tête – assumptions.

I assumed a different person from who sat in front of me. I learnt that he had been at university, been a promising actor, a wild child when he lived in London and was revising his film scripts whilst having treatment. Not what I assumed.

This encounter led me and the TT team to go a week without making any assumptions – in business, in life, with clients and the experience is interesting. How much do we let assumptions limit our lives and how dangerous can it be to assume?

Let’s take a walk on the global platform and review a couple of major game changers last year and ask ourselves ‘how’?

How did the Brexit outcome defy all the polls? Simply because of a string of assumptions. David Cameron assumed leading figures in his own party would vote to remain, and felt as he did. Wrong! The city made an assumption on behalf of its constituents that didn’t bother to question or give any regards to the disenfranchised areas of the UK. The markets, betting markets, U.K. Government and even media assumed a ‘remain’ vote. Strings of separate and connecting threads unravelled simultaneously, resulting in a tipping point of discontent.

On the other side of the globe, we witnessed and lived through one of the most unbelievable and bizarre political miracles the world has seen, due to a plethora of well publicized assumptions. It appears we all made assumptions on the outcome of the U. S Presidential elections and with disbelief we saw the impossible become possible.

The pundits, including media, have a gaggle of assumptions on why Trump won, which, whilst fascinating, are pure conjecture. We all have our own take. Our biases and assumptions were never far away during the whole unfortunate, hideously ugly episode. One assumption I feel confident to make is that the world made assumptions.

Staying on the world stage, I recently visited Singapore in transit to London for a family event. On the flight I read about Australia’s lack of performance in the school learning stakes and how we are behind other countries, with Singapore on top of the ladder. We assume so many things about our country – its wealth, the standard of living, health care and education. Travel helps us shrug off assumptions and look with fresh eyes on other culture’s religions and diversity. We see possibilities.

Driving with 3 different taxi providers I was surprised to learn that Uber has a half share of business. I was not surprised to learn that Singapore is safe and clean but lacking space, which is manifesting in a raft of building and high-rise activity.

I felt more at ease to ask crazy questions and felt humbled that everyone in Singapore speaks English to some degree, or makes an attempt at least. Australians assume that everyone in every country speaks English. They are correct but it seems unbalanced and unfair.

So what have I learned that will be helpful in the future? We have created an assumption-free zone at the office, which is proving to stimulate new activity and opening possibilities for creative thinking and purpose.

Understanding myself and how I operate is a work in progress. I acknowledge how important my leadership, vision, decisions, influence, prejudice and perspective affect the team and the future.

I believe we can make the future what we want if we open ourselves to a range of new experiences, people and collaboration. In isolation we can never know how good we can be. Just ask my cleaner.

Get in contact with us. We look forward to hearing from you.