In your opinion, who do you think is the greatest thinker of all time?  

Gurus and legendary thinkers of the past like Leonardo da Vinci, Aristotle, Sosipatra of Ephesus, Queen Elizabeth I, Galileo or Socrates may come to your mind immediately. 

Other contemporary thinkers like Albert Einstein, Maria Montessori, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, or perhaps Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page are not only smart, but their ideas and contributions have had a positive impact on millions of people all over the world.  In doing so, they have also generated much wealth for themselves.

Does this mean that the contemporary group of thinkers is better than those in the past? 

If I need to stake a claim on this, I dare say that the contemporary group of thinkers has a competitive edge because it is equipped with the newest brain structure compared to that of our forefathers centuries ago.

Scientific research has shown that the human brain has actually evolved throughout the history of mankind.  As early humans faced new environmental challenges, they evolved to have larger and have more complex brains.

Bigger brains can process and store more information. This was advantageous to humans in terms of social interaction and living in unfamiliar habitats.

The modern human brain is the largest and most complex of any living primate, so as to be adaptable and engage in higher levels of thinking in the new world.

However despite our more advanced brain structure, many of us may not have upgraded our operating “thinking software”. 

In order to become productive innovators and problem solvers, we need to upgrade our thinking.  We will have to sharpen our communication skills, and become better at discerning fact from opinion. 

To do this, we have to probe more deeply into our thinking to be aware of what we are thinking about and understand our thought processes well.  To develop a meta-cognitive mindset, we can begin by asking questions.  According to Leonardo da Vinci, we should always remain curious in everything (curiosità) so that our brains develop a strong desire to learn and improve continuously.  By asking the right questions, we can make good value judgements and better decisions, and hence improve our lives, be it at work or home.

Our world has changed dramatically over the years. Our thinking should thus change accordingly so we can better engage and adapt ourselves in the world.

Spend a brief moment thinking about how you can manage the way you gain knowledge – such as how you can get new content, filter appropriate information and learn new techniques to think critically.  Once you have developed your brain capital, you will be ready to reboot your brain with the latest version of your operating software - Thinking 2.0.

As you start to build and enrich your brain capital, you will begin to feel and think differently about the way you perceive things and conceive ideas. 

Article contributed by Eric Cheong, an accredited master trainer with ThinkBuzan in the UK, who is certified in Tony Buzan’s techniques, like Mind Mapping, Memory, Speed Reading and the iMindMap software.  

Find out how you can upgrade your thinking software to become the next greater thinker at “Buzan Mind Mapping For Higher Workplace Productivity” workshop organise by STJobs. Find out more at stjobs.sg/seminar.