There are people who stand out for their ability to respond in a quick and clever way. It is observed in company meetings, in groups of friends or at school. When the professor asks a question, there is usually someone who, in the blink of an eye, gives the right answer. It is a trait admired by society and that now, in the social media era, has more and more relevance. Anyone can make a comment with the click of a button. But is this a positive skill in learning or finding solutions?
Anyone can make a comment with the click of a button but is this a positive skill in learning or finding solutions?
Barbara Oakley, a professor at the University of California, San Diego, suggests that we have two modes of thinking: that of a racing car or of a walker. Both can reach the goal, but at different speeds and through different experiences. While the the racing car mentality does not pay attention to what is found along the way, the walker keeps the details. The latter allows you to delve much deeper and find clues to solve problems that would otherwise go unnoticed. The father of modern neuroscience, Ramón y Cajal, who received the Nobel Prize of Medicine in 1906, had a walker mentality. In the words of the Aragonese scientist himself, he was not a genius. It was not a humble comment, but he really believed it. Cajal surrounded himself with geniuses, with whom he shared the same problems. The difference between him and the others was in the speed and the manner that he approached problems. While the geniuses had the racing car mentality and made hasty decisions without questioning themselves; Cajal, with his walker mentality, noticed details and persistently reviewed his conclusions to check if he was wrong.
This was also the case with Michael Faraday, the father of electricity. As a young child from a very humble class, he had no access to higher education and through his persistence and passion, he discovered the principles of modern electricity. Faraday also had the walker mentality and did not take for granted any discoveries in his field. In fact, he repeated studies conducted by other scientists to learn and to analyze the details. Only then did he discover the relationship between magnetic force and electricity. This is one of the differences between the racing car and walker mentalities. When the pressure increases there is no room for flexibility or for questioning. Therefore, the racing car mentality tends to be more rigid and is less able to adapt to what is found along the way, as it happens beyond science.
In a world where information is transmitted so quickly, it would be worthwhile to exercise the walker mentality
In the hostage negotiation process it is important that the person in command has a walker mentality, according to experts Voss and Raz. When those with a racing car mentality negotiate they tend to have preconceived notions and ignore critical information which reveals itself during the process, which can have fatal consequences. In our daily life I have met people with fast reading skills, who devour books but then are not able to deduce themes or reconnect new ideas. Simply, they remained content in finishing the book without having noticed its content.
Ultimately, in a world where information is transmitted so quickly, it would be worthwhile to exercise the walker mentality if we want to find good solutions. Learning does not always happen in a hurry. Reflection takes time, which is not always the way of social networks and of the business world. And curiously, when we reflect, we question and have the ability to be flexible and despite our starting beliefs we can find solutions which did not occur to us before. Therefore, let us “walk” this new year.
English version by Asia Palomba.