From what ive seen, being able to think critically and open minded are some of the best traits to have in this industry and others as well.
Through my experiences in sports and learning from people in this industry, being open minded is usually a trait the most knowledgeable people have, whether they’re a strength and conditioning coach, personal trainer, or coach a sport. They were open minded or accepting/understanding of different ideas or view points, or at least considered them while weighing the facts, pros/cons, and uses of both sides. Even if they didn’t agree with its intended use and claims, if it would be useful or apply better in a different scenario, or if you adjusted it, or just had a completely different use for it, they would use it or consider it under those circumstances, assuming it wasn’t dead wrong no matter how you changed it or where you applied it. They didn’t immediately side against it because it was different then what they were taught or what they know, without looking at everything from both sides and different ways of applying it.
They typically knew that no one knows everything and they even thought they didn’t know everything even though they were world class coaches and/or former world champion athletes, that were well known for being the most if not one of the most knowledgeable people in their field or sport, they would collaberate with other coaches to get different opinions and ways of doing things, because they all had their own way of doing things. If you asked 8 different world champion boxing coaches or Jiu-Jitsu coaches the same thing about how to do something, they could easily give you 8 different opinions/techniques on how to do it, (whether how to throw a hook, how to get power in shots, little rules and concepts on how to hold a position, etc.) and they could all say “this is the best way to do it” even though 8 different knowledgable guys said that and each gave a different answer. Similar happened back when I didn’t know how to work certain muscles and didn’t have education on it, I’d ask 4 different personal trainers the same thing, and I’d get 4 different exercises or ways to do it, there where even times I would mention one trainer’s way to accomplish my goal to a different trainer and he/she would be confused, like “What!?, you do this to work that( and show whatever different way they had for it).”
Techniques and concepts one coach is against, another coach could encourage because one could have a greater understanding of how it works and knows how to apply/use it right, or one knows cons against it due to their greater understanding of it, or maybe they look at it from different viewpoints or were brought up think differently when they were taught it. Ive seen it apply sports and the fitness industry.
The coaches and fellow athletes ( when considering sport coaches and athletes, the ones in boxing & jiu-jitsu i think applies more here based on my experiences at least, im not sure if it applies to others as dramatically.) that I’ve met who kind of thought they knew everything or held bias for their original beliefs so they wouldnt take anything new even when it could revolutionize their game, abilities, and coaching skill, generally weren’t the most knowledgeable and could even appear to be held back compared to the progress they couldve been making. But not all the time.
I think open minded like the open minded coaches do that i mentioned above, but my psychology professor mentioned that the longer you believe a certain way, the harder its going to be to change your mind, regardless of whether or not you would’ve changed your mind if the info was presented to you in the very beginning. Ive seen evidence in this in my experiences when someone who was doing something the wrong way for a long time doesn’t accept the facts and info against it, while people who were blank slates on the topic easily accepted it and couldnt understand why so many people who were older and doing it their own way for a long time had problems accepting it. It would be even harder to change their mind if that person was educated in the topic and worked professionally doing it that way for years. I just dont want to end up hard headed and not accept if/when everything ive believed in before gets challenged enough to where it could/would be logical to switch beliefs.
I think I might be overthinking that part, but it could really happen. But the main reason i asked this question was to get different opinions and ways or strategies to think critically and open minded.
So what are ways or things you can do to train yourself to think critically and more open minded or prevent personal biases from clouding your judgement?
I talked about open mindedness a lot in this question but wanting to know about thinking critically is just as important.
One of the most important things to do when looking to open your mind and improve your understanding is to ask, why? Then seek the answer to “why?”. Asking why and finding out why, leads to a lot of What? When? Where? and How? questions, so be ready to question everything, even “authority”. I mean, what gives me the authority to answer your question in the first place? But at some point you have to get to work, so don’t wait to figure it all out. Just try to be reasonable sure of what you need to do and how to get started doing it.
I question things every day. Is this workout doing what I wanted it to do? Is my client responding to and into what we are doing? Did I skip lunch?
I think Karin’s answer is very good.
I think one of the best earliest steps is a habit of reading….. reading more than just things with which one automatically agrees…. reading will give one a base of information, as well as a window into people and cultures and philosophies that differ from oneself.
I think one should read the great philosophers, and take at least one class in symbolic logic. Logic gives the tools for analyzing ideas. People are wired to respond first with emotion, and afterward with critical analysis. If we start with ‘I do not like this’ we can either go to ‘Therefore it is wrong’, or to “why do I not like it, why might someone else like it, and what are the merits of each position?’
Do you know the story of Johannes Kepler? He was one of the most brilliant mathematicians of his day. He had a theory for most of his life regarding the basic structure of the universe… he spent almost his whole adult life working out his theory, only to reach a point where the math just didn’t work. So he (metaphorically) threw out all his old cherished beliefs and started from the beginning. And so he was able to discover that the planets followed an elliptical path. Reading led me to his story, and reading his story has given me a life long belief in the power of critical thought and the capacity to challenge one’s own hardfast ideas.
Listening is a wonderful skill. If you listen in conversation only while waiting to make your own point you will never learn anything.
Understanding that it is more powerful to be a model of the critical thinker than to demand that others become that which you believe is best.
And, I think, one always has to balance, as with everything. Aristotle talks about virtue and the golden mean…. gluttony is not good, but neither is self starvation. In other words, (one of my favorite quotes) ‘It is important to keep an open mind, but not so open your brains fall out.’
this is really an interesting question.
I believe the first step is in recognizing that one has personal biases. I am not sure how you cannot have them. Our beliefs are shaped over time through a combination of acquired knowledge, personal experience and the input of those whose opinion we respect.
It is not only a matter that one has believed in a certain way to make this opinion more immutable but also the reinforcement that this belief still works for the person. When confronted with evidence to the contrary, it then becomes a matter of an open mind to at least test the new material for the possibility to integrate it into the personal belief or replacing some.
I think that open-mindedness also has a lot to do with the subject matter. If your beliefs are formed on objective data, then they are easier to challenge and to change. When it becomes a matter of faith (as in religion) where objective data is not available, then the best one can hope for is the allowance that other points of view, even if different, have their own validity.
I believe the very fact that you are posing this question already defines you as an open-minded person.