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Habits of Mind: Thinking Flexibly

Posted on April 3, 2017

illustration of the habit of mind, "Thinking flexibly" “The most successful people are those who are good at plan B.” - James Yorke

Thinking flexibly means acting with forethought and deliberation.

The human brain is amazing in its ability to rewire, change and even repair itself to become smarter. Flexible people have the capacity to change their minds as they receive additional data. They engage in multiple and simultaneous outcomes and activities, and they draw upon a range of problem-solving strategies. 

Flexible people know that they have and can develop options and alternatives. They understand means-ends relationships; work within rules, criteria and regulations; and can predict the consequences of ignoring them. Thus, flexibility of mind is essential for working with social diversity, enabling an individual to recognize and see things from others’ points of view. They often use words and phrases such as “however,” “on the other hand,” “if you look at it another way,” or “John’s idea is… but Mary’s idea is…” We hear them say, “Let’s think of more ideas before we decide which one we want to use.”

Common language for this habit includes: open-minded, multiple solutions, different points of view, growing and creative.

Watch a video illustrating this habit.