If you have read the previous article ‘Advantages Of Dyspraxia; Just What Are They?’ it was revealed how there is a connection between Dyspraxia and strategic thinking. This connection being that many Dyspraxic individuals will often be strategic thinkers; it is actually one of the advantages to being Dyspraxic. Of course not everybody with Dyspraxia will have this type of thinking; yet compared to the rest of the population, the ratio of strategic thinkers to non-strategic thinkers is higher amongst us Dyspraxics than it is amongst the rest of the population.
So what exactly does it mean to be a strategic thinker? Why is it higher amongst those of us with Dyspraxia? How is strategic thinker a beneficial trait? And if you aren’t a strategic thinker, is there anything that you can do to develop this mindset? In this article we’ll be answering these questions.
So to begin with, what does it mean to be a strategic thinker?
What Does It Mean To Be A Strategic Thinker?
When it comes to strategy and thinking strategically, there is a vast amount of literature on this subject. Unfortunately in my experience, most of the material on this subject doesn’t really cover the core basis of strategy fairly. I say this for the vast majority of the material only looks at strategy through the perspective of a military battle or a business setting.
While the outcome of a battle or a business setting is heavily dependent on how strategic one side was against the other side (as well as who carried out the best strategy) this isn’t the only area of life where thinking strategically has an impact on our success. In fact nearly all areas of life can become more beneficial via thinking strategically.
So what exactly is strategy and thinking strategically? Well a strategy is defined on wikipedia as ‘…a general plan to achieve one or more long-term or overall goals under conditions of uncertainty.’ Strategy can therefore be seen as what one ultimately does to achieve some desired goal or else does to maintain the status quo. Therefore to think strategically means to be able to notice where you currently are, where you want to be and how you are going to cross that gulf.
Therefore to be a strategic thinker requires that one is able to;
- Know where they currently are
- Know what they want (goal)
- Anticipate the near future and what is likely to happen
- Come up and choose the most appropriate action to help one move towards their goal
- The ability to change direction if need be (particularly if things aren’t going according to plan
These are the mental attributes which make up a strategic thinker. The chances are that you already have one or more attributes in your thinking style. And as we uncovered earlier, if you have Dyspraxia then there is also a chance that you have all of these traits.
Yet why is there a link between many who have Dyspraxia and Strategic Thinking? While I cannot say for certain, I believe that it is due in part to the difficulties that many of us suffered growing up. Due to having Dyspraxia, many of us struggled with doing certain everyday tasks that others do without a moment's thought.
Yet this is only just my educated opinion.
So What Are The Benefits To Being A Strategic Thinker?
The benefits to being a strategic thinker are plentiful for in part, nearly everything that we do in our day to day lives requires some form of strategy. Pretty much every outcome you want to achieve which requires some random variables is a strategy. Whether it be trying to navigate your way through traffic to work or persuading your children to clean their bedrooms.
So one of the main benefits to being a strategic thinker is that one is more likely to find a way to achieve their goals. This is because as a strategic thinker, one is regularly reflecting on where they currently are in relation to their desired outcomes. And considering the likely consequences of each option. Or to put it another way, approaching life in a way similar to how a chess master considers all his options in a game of chess.
One of the other benefits to being a strategic thinker is that it reduces the chances of learned helplessness. If you are not aware, learned helplessness is a psychological state where one feels powerless to make any desirable changes to their circumstances. For example if you happen to be out of work at the moment and despite applying for every job around you haven’t as yet managed to get any job, it would be quite easy to fall into a state of learned helplessness.
When in this state, one tends to become despondent to life (especially the part of life which is causing them to feel helpless) and may feel like there is not much point carrying on trying as they will only fail. Yet via thinking strategically, the chances are that one will stay more resilient for each attempt they make which doesn’t work out won’t be seen as a personal failure. Instead it would be taken as a result which didn’t work out and as such, a new desirable path would need to be taken.
One other benefit to being a strategic thinker is that you are likely to come across as more focused and directional which will provide you with a sense of purpose. Whilst it is nice to have nothing to do from time to time, being in this directionless state of mind over a period of time can be detrimental to your health and well-being. Now thinking strategically doesn’t mean you need to have outcomes or goals which would take years to achieve. Your purpose may be to persuade your friend to come over to your place instead of yours for theirs.
No matter how big the goals or objectives are, thinking strategically will certainly give you a sense of purpose! This in itself comes with a bountiful of benefits in its own right.
One final benefit to being a strategic thinker which is worth mentioning is that this type of thinking will make you far more valuable to nearly every employer; if not in your own business. People who are strategic thinkers are more likely to see ways to attain the results more effectively then someone who is just mindlessly following the standard procedures. In fact the British Secret Service (GCHQ) are even looking to recruit people with Dyspraxia, Dyslexia, etc. due to them being more likely to be strategic thinkers (as well as other traits we have).
How To Be A Strategic Thinker
Whilst I don’t personally know you, please don’t take offense as to what I am about to say for it is not personal. Yet when I first heard that one of the positive traits of Dyspraxia was strategic thinking, I initially found this hard to believe. This being because from the benefits outlined to strategic thinking, why isn’t it that the vast majority of individuals with Dyspraxia are not becoming thriving successes in life?
Of course there are some individuals with Dyspraxia who are very successful, yet if strategic thinkers are the type of people who’d generally plot their way to their goals, then surely the vast majority of us would be far more successful in life then we are overall as a group? As strategic thinkers, surely we would have all figured out evermore effective ways around the issues our Dyspraxia presents? I mean many Dyspraxic individuals I have come across unfortunately seem to live their lives with some degree of learned helplessness!
Again I don’t mean to offend anyone with that observation and I am not in any way referring it to anyone personally.
Anyhow it took me a while to finally figure out this conundrum (in my opinion anyway) and as such, it opened an angle to strategic thinking I never really had considered; that anyone can improve their strategic thinking abilities. This type of thinking isn’t available to only the few but everyone.
The problem comes down to the fact that as humans, we tend to be lazy thinkers. I say this in that once we have learnt how to do something to a certain standard, we are likely to cease trying to find more effective ways to do the same thing.
For example, if a young child with Dyspraxia who struggles to tie up their shoelaces learns that they can get around this problem by stuffing their laces inside their shoes, then they are unlikely to carry on learning how to tie up their laces. For having figured a way around this problem, there is no real point in learning anymore (this being till a parent or teacher shows the child how to tie up their laces).
So like everyone else, most of us Dyspraxics may strategically formulate a method to help us overcome the various difficulties we face. Yet like most other people on finding a way that works, we are unlikely to consciously seek out more effective ways. For why put yourself through more struggle when you already have a method that works.
Unfortunately this attitude is what stops us from achieving our true strategic thinking potential. Now I am not in any way saying that as an adult, you should take time out of your busy schedule to come up with more effective ways to tie up your shoelaces! What I am suggesting however is that on coming up with a solution to a problem, don't just stop reflecting. Take time to reflect on if the strategy you have developed is the best or if there isn't an even more effective strategy!
Doing so will ultimately make you a more strategic thinker for you are reflecting more on what are your options, etc. This will in itself make you more strategic: whether you have Dyspraxia or not.
One other thing that you can do to make yourself more strategic is to look at what others have done before you to accomplish whatever it is you want. So suppose you had a job interview coming up, not only could you spend time reflecting on strategies to get you that job, but you could try and find out what others who have already got such a job did in their interviews in order to get that job!
So to exercise your strategic thinking muscles, start spending more time reflecting on the various options ahead of you (as well as the consequences of those options). And also look at the strategies taken by those who have already successfully done what you want to.
Anyhow if you like to know more about Dyspraxia, including the strengths of having Dyspraxia, I recommend you read my book ‘Dyspraxia: How To Thrive As An Adult’ by Alex Gadd. You can find that by clicking here.
Else if you would like to be in a group of fellow Dyspraxics and find more information on this disability, then why not join the Dyspraxia Support Group on Facebook.