Thinking happens almost automatically from the day we are born. However, how can we do so skilfully? On 14 March 2019, thinker, educator and entrepreneur Dr Henry Toi examined thinking and introduced a thinking model, PEARL. PEARL, according to Dr Toi, defines a process of skilful thinking and is a simple tool that can be used in almost any situation we face.
The event also marked the launch of Dr Toi’s book Think to Thrive: Re-engineering Your Mind for Growth.
He began by explaining that his book was a response to the VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) environment, a term which originated from the US military that has gone on to describe uncertainties beyond the “Theatre of War” and now affects everyone. The past few decades have seen an emergence of major factors that are shaping our future. Some of the more significant ones that have caused disruption in our lives include social, cultural and political change, advancements in technology such as artificial intelligence, robotics and block chain technology, and climate change.
This environment causes us to think more deeply and connect seemingly unknowable and unrelated knowledge or facts. Why do we have five fingers and five toes? Why are strawberries and ladybirds red? Wrestling with such questions reveals how we think. On this note, Dr Toi believes that if we can think right, the world will be right. A mindful world will think about issues, consider all facts and not jump into conclusions.
As part of his personal mission to teach people how to think, Dr Toi introduced the framework PEARL which can help in dealing with a VUCA environment. “P” for purpose, passion and prospection, is very important in an ever-changing environment. People and even organisations lose their sense of purpose overtime. We must think through why we do the things we do and have a vision of where we will be in the future.
“E” is for experience and excuses. Excuses reveal our priorities, so uncovering our excuses tells us more about ourselves. Dr Toi observed that expertise is now more valued than experience as it is usually obtained by developing skills, and will be more helpful and necessary in navigating uncertainties. However, we can design our experience as this affects how we develop expertise.
“A”, which stands for attitude, can come from experience and expertise. “R” refers to resilience, which is necessary to do well in a VUCA environment as we transition through different stages in our lives. “L” refers to litheness and learning. Litheness brings forth to mind the ability of letting go, particularly of psychological baggage that can cause damage. In a turbulent environment, it is best to let go of such baggage, to be flexible and move with the ever-shifting landscape. We should also be open to continuous learning.
Dr Toi concluded the talk by addressing questions from the audience, which included the use of intuition, the difference between the PEARL approach to critical and creative thinking, and what happens when we overthink.
For more information on Think to Thrive, please visit Write Editions’ website.