Integrative thinking forces us to understand that our viewpoint on any given topic is based on our interpretation of that topic and that others don’t necessarily see things the same way that we do. And, vice verse.
It’s that understanding that leads us down the path of solving the world’s problems. The idea that we must pick an idea (ours) at the expense of all other thoughts is both ludicrous and dangerous. While not unheard of, it’s unlikely that one person has all the answers on a particular topic. It’s easy to fall into the trap of believing your hype by telling yourself that you have thought things through and have the only real answer. As individuals, we sometimes forget that while we have a vibrant and robust life, that others do as well. It’s sometimes hard for us to imagine that others have as dynamic a mind as we do.
Each of us is narcissistic in our own ways, as narcissism lives on a spectrum (read my previous post on this topic). Because of that, we tend to put our thoughts and views before those of others.
However, with integrative thinking, we are forced to understand that our views are based on our interpretation and that the superior viewpoint isn’t always our own. Most of the time, it isn’t even the other person’s idea. Instead, it’s a combination of the two.
Many times we find ourselves defending our rightness (even when we know we’re wrong), not because our position is the superior one, but because we want to be right. Being wrong goes against our self-image. This is normal. However, it can be overcome.
Integrative thinking is, at the same time, both a methodology and a mindset for problem-solving. It values the input of the whole over the input of the one. The idea is that if you’re able to see your thoughts as just one interpretation of the problem and not necessarily the superior one, you put the group (family, friends, community, work, or otherwise) in a much better position to solve the problem.
What I call divisive thinking is the opposite of integrative thinking and is the reason why we have most of the problems that we have today. It’s what happens when we confuse our interpretation as the defacto interpretation and see everybody else’s solution as subpar to our own. As the names suggest, divisive thinking divides us while integrative thinking unites us.
It’s our willingness to find the superior solution, even if it means it’s not our own, that propels us forward. We live in a divisive world, divided more and more by divisive thinking, where each of us narcissistically sees our views as superior. If we can all get to the realization that our thoughts are but one interpretation, that there is value in other interpretations, then we will begin to reap the benefits of integrative thinking.
I’ll leave you with this: the superior mind isn’t singular, it’s plural.