Thinking: How to Think—NOT What to Think

You can increase your effectiveness as a trader by expanding your skills in HOW to think, not just WHAT to think about. Discover the several different types of structured-learning processes you can choose from.

In 2001, WindoTrader Corporation (our software development company) began offering WindoTrader, a Market Profile based software application. At the same time, based on our personal trading experience starting in 1993, we initiated several structured learning processes and third party resources for subscribers to help them:

increase their effectiveness as traders, and

maximize the features and functionality of WindoTrader.

This approach, based primarily on my experience as a facilitator of business and professional start-ups, mergers, and turn-arounds, and the experience of our strategic partners became the core principle on which we developed our educational offerings. For example, we knew that:

People typically learn best according to their predominant learning styles, so we developed our processes to address those individual learning styles.

Providing software without both technical and educational support usually resulted in only partial capitalization of the features and functionality available.

Most students are taught what to think – not how to think. In our experience with hundreds of clients and seminar participants, once you increase and expand your ability in the HOW and WHY of thinking, the WHAT of thinking becomes much more implementable.

Monday morning reality happens frequently when, after a live educational seminar-type experience, we attempt to apply what we learned back in our own environment. To support that transition we provided several different support media.

Three Concepts on the ‘Parts’ of the Whole-Brain

Looking back, the primary factor that contributed most to the success of my clients was, what I call, Whole-Brain Thinking based on the concept of the brain having two parts or two ways of functioning. Following are three concepts that I have followed and used over the years in pursuit of using my ‘whole-brain’:

Concept #1: My introduction to the concept of two functions or parts in the 1970’s was through his book, Lateral Thinking. At that time Dr. De Bono was highly regarded as the undisputed expert in the area of creative thinking and the father of Lateral Thinking. Dr. De Bono, holds both PhD and MD degrees.

Dr. De Bono’s original concept of the brain having two functions, focused on the brain’s ability to think both vertically and laterally. For example, his lateral and vertical thinking types delineated functions such as:


Concept #2: Sometime in the mid-1980’s, one of my mentors, a money manager, told me about the work of a Dr. Sperry and how his research and findings became the basis for all of his decisions regarding the asset portfolio he managed.

Based on the work of Roger W. Sperry, a neurobiologist, David Hubel, a neurophysiologist, and Torsten Wiesel, also a neurophysiologist, shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine for their work in split-brain research.


Resource: Whole-Brain Thinking by Jacquelyn Wonder and Priscilla Donovan written in the mid-1980’s and one of the first publications to focus on the whole-brain and its two ‘parts’.

Over the following years there was a number of books written on the subjects of the brain and the art and skill of thinking.

Concept #3: Fast and Slow Thinking. Introduced in 2013 Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman, focused on the concepts of fast and slow as thinking styles. The primary characteristics being:

Fast-1 Slow-2

From working with countless clients (business owners and professionals), I learned how to help them develop and expand their businesses and professional practices exponentially by using whole-brain thinking. To gain the increases they sought, we primarily used two tools: checklists, mostly a left-hemisphere tool, and mind-maps, mostly a right-hemisphere tool.

To gain an initial insight into both of the tools, we encourage you to read:

The Checklist Manifesto – Atul Gawande

The Mind Map Book – Tony Buzan

Note: Even though the latter is almost 13 years old, it is still recognized as one of the most complete overviews of mind-mapping in that it illustrates the power of using color, varied fonts, highlighting, boxes, etc., in creating a mind-map.

Next, let’s quantify a “tool” – for example a drill is a tool, and the benefit of a drill is that I can create a hole in a piece of wood. The size, location, quality of, speed with which I perform the task, etc. is dependent on, in most cases, my understanding of the need or want of the hole, my ability (knowledge and experience) with drills, and an external factor – power to either charge my drill’s battery or a cord to plug it in.

The tools: the checklist and the mind-map, require similar components. The goal or benefit of using the checklist is sequential, optimal performance, while the mind-map can be big-picture contextual, all the way down to detailed exploration. But just like the drill, other factors such as understanding, ability, perspective, and commitment are required and come into play.

Whole-Brain (Rational and Intuitive) Thinking:

Whole-Brain thinking dictates that we must consistently consult both our internal and external resources. Our internal resources are our memories, experiences, knowledge, and intuition. Our external resources are other people and the spoken or printed word. To capitalize on our available options, we sharpen our Whole-Brain thinking skills by:

Being open-minded to new ideas and applying analytics for understanding.

Developing an inquiring mind and stretch your curiosity for new ideas.

Never being satisfied with the status quo and challenging everything.

Extend your efforts, because drive is key to intuitive thinking.

Extending our ability to dissect, analyze, and evaluate in a structured manner.

Not being concerned about the opinions of others.

Increasing our ability to plan both conceptually and with tools.

Going beyond our personal habits, attitudes, precedents, and customs.

Brainstorming without analysis, criticism or rational thinking.

Advancing our ability to make decisions: logical, values-based, immediate, long-term, individually, and collectively.

Brain Rules:

In 2008, John Medina, a molecular biologist and professor at Seattle Pacific University, wrote Brain Rules. Based on his research, his book defines and elaborates on what he calls Brain Rules: twelve things unique about our brains and how they function in the performance of our daily routines. Again, I encourage you to read this book or, if your time is limited, at least read his chapters (Rules) on:

Rule #1 – Exercise – How physical exercise boosts brain power and extends mental ability.

Rule #4 – Attention – How multi-tasking diminishes effectiveness and under- stands patterns.

Rules #5 and #6 – Short-term and Long-Term Memory.

Rule #7 – Sleep – Be sure to read about the power of both the 26 and the 45 minute naps.

Note: Of all the books I’ve read about the brain, this is one of my favorite because of the way he presents the information, explains it clearly, and recaps the key points.

In future articles we’’ discuss two key thinking support tools; Mind Mapping and Checklists.

Until next time . . .


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