Book review: Clear Thinking by Shane Parrish

A large part of achieving success is having the self-control to do whatever needs to be done, regardless of whether you feel like doing it at the moment.

Shane Parrish

In my role, it is vital to think clearly when the pressure is on or when trying to decide on the right course of action regarding employment relations issues. While listening to a business podcast recently, I came across Shane Parrish and his processes for working through problems and remaining unbiased.

His book, Clear Thinking, is an insightful exploration of the methods and mindsets that can enhance our decision-making processes. The chapter ‘Building your own board of directors in your mind’ stood out for me in its unique approach to improving cognitive abilities.

Parrish introduces the concept of creating an internal advisory panel composed of individuals we admire for their wisdom, expertise, and varied perspectives. This mental board serves as a tool to provide guidance and broaden our thinking when faced with important decisions or complex problems.

By suggesting the inclusion of individuals from various fields and backgrounds, Parrish emphasises the importance of diversity in thought. These figures can be anyone of your choosing, from historical figures and current experts to colleagues or business leaders.

For example, you might choose a renowned scientist for their analytical approach, a successful entrepreneur for their innovative thinking, and a philosopher for their ethical reasoning. The key is to select individuals whose insights and perspectives you find valuable and inspiring.

Once your board members are chosen, Parrish suggests visualising a formal meeting in which you present your problem or decision to the board and listen to their hypothetical responses. This exercise helps clarify your thinking, weigh the pros and cons of different approaches, and encourages you to adopt a more structured approach to decision-making.

As you evolve in your decision-making ability, he encourages you to grow or compress your board to keep your mental panel dynamic, much like a real board. This perpetual evolution to building your board reflects the changing nature of our understanding and the importance of staying open to new ideas and perspectives.

If you’re looking to change your thinking or simply want a new perspective on decision-making, this book is an essential read, particularly the chapter on building a mental board, as it offers a practical and imaginative strategy for harnessing diverse perspectives and expertise to enhance our thinking and problem-solving skills.

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