Saturday, October 3, 2009

Cognitive skills are critical, but often invisible

So, you might be saying, this stuff is really interesting. But what difference does it make?

The way cognitive skills drive your everyday thinking is similar to the way in which an experienced driver handles a car. On a dry road, and a clear day, an experienced driver may go on "autopilot." But let the road get icy, or the visibility get limited, and that same driver will feel the need to consciously focus on the simplest processes.

When your cognitive skills are well developed and maintained, you think in a focused and competent way. When you run into a difficult challenge - a tougher problem than usual, or perhaps an emotional crisis, you may need to become conscious and deliberate about your thinking.

A conscious understanding of cognitive skills and how they work can provide the extra bit of leverage that is needed in these more difficult situations.
- In business and in sports, that leverage can provide a competitive advantage.
- In everyday life, that leverage provides better problem solving, decision-making, and planning.
- For someone trying to learn something new, the conscious and effective use of this leverage can make the difference between rote memorization and content mastery.

Those are some ways in which the conscious development of cognitive skills can make a difference.

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