Rate Your Own Level of Thinking

In today’s highly competitive job environment the employee level of thinking suggests their potential value to the employer. This value is the return on the payroll.

In business, one of the biggest opportunities for better return on payroll is engagement.

Employees are engaged by their employers. Why? Because employers hire employees to pay attention to minding the shareholders’ business.

Salespeople are engaged by their customers. Why? Because customers choose salespeople who pay attention to meeting their expectations.

Engagement is all about attention and you can use the 20 questions below to rate your own cognitive engagement, your own ability to pay attention, your own level of thinking.

On the job, some employees pay more attention than others. In selling some salespeople pay more attention than others. Why is that? Because not everyone has the same level of thinking.

According to GALLUP there are three types of employees: Engaged, Disengaged and Actively Disengaged. (In the latest Gallup Global Report Australia rated 16% Engaged, 60% Not-Engaged and 14% Actively Disengaged).

Attention is all about cognitive engagement. Here’s a simple audit for you to rate your own level of cognitive engagement in just 20 questions. It was designed by Dr Eric Bienstock who is Vice-Principal of SOT in New York. Eric holds a Master’s degree in Mathematics from the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, and a Ph.D. from New York University where he studied Mathematics, Education and Learning Theory. He based this checklist on the SOT’s Learn-To-Think Coursebook and Instructors Manual (Michael Hewitt-Gleeson & Edward de Bono, Capra/New 1982).


How well do you pay attention? Use these 20 questions to rate your own level of thinking …

INSTRUCTIONS: Answer each of the following 20 questions, scoring
either 3, 2, 1, or 0 points for each answer depending on your
objective estimate of how often you actually do what is stated.
Use your best guess of the following criteria for scoring:

3 – 90% OF THE TIME (nearly always)
2 – 70% OF THE TIME (mostly)
1 – 40% OF THE TIME (often)
0 – 10% OF THE TIME (hardly ever)

My judgments of ideas are based on the value of the idea rather
than on my emotions at the time.

0    1    2    3

I judge ideas not just as “good” or “bad” but also as “interesting” if they can lead on to better ideas.

0    1    2    3

I consider all factors in a situation before choosing, deciding or planning.

0    1    2    3

I consider all factors first, before picking out the ones that matter most.

0    1    2    3

When I create a rule I see to it that it is clearly understood and possible to obey.

0    1    2    3

I try to see the purpose of rules I have to obey, even if I don’t like the rules.

0    1    2    3

I look at consequences of my decisions or actions not only as they affect me but also as they affect other people.

0    1    2    3

I look at a wide range of possible consequences before deciding which consequences to bother about.

0    1    2    3

On the way to a final objective I establish a chain of smaller objectives each one following on from the previous one.

0    1    2    3

The objectives I set are near enough, real enough and possible enough for me to really try to reach them.

0    1    2    3

In planning, I know exactly what I want to achieve.

0    1    2    3

I keep my plans as simple and direct as possible.

0    1    2    3

I know exactly why I have chosen something as a priority.

0    1    2    3

I try to get as many different ideas as possible first,
before starting to pick out the priorities.

0    1    2    3

I will go on looking for alternatives until I find one I really like.

0    1    2    3

While most people look for alternatives when they are not satisfied; I look for them deliberately even when I am satisfied.

0    1    2    3

I am able to tell myself the real reason behind a decision I make.

0    1    2    3

Before making a decision, I consider the factors, look at the consequences, get clear about the objectives, assess the priorities, and search for possible alternatives.

0    1    2    3

I am able to see the other person’s point-of-view whether I agree with it or not.

0    1    2    3

I am able to spell out the differences and similarities between different viewpoints.

0    1    2    3

Your total score is




Don’t panic, this is NOT a scientific test. Self-rating is notoriously unreliable so your ratings may be way off depending on your mood and other factors. However, it is a valid audit or metacognition checklist: to help you take stock of your thinking, your own attention skills, your own cognitive engagement. That’s all!

Every day the output of your brain is decisions. You make hundreds of conscious decisions a day, sometimes more. The quality of these decisions has a direct impact on the quality of your personal life, your family, your business and your friends. If you can raise the quality of your decisions you can raise the quality of your life.

A trained thinker can direct his or her thinking and use it in a deliberate manner to produce an effect. To a trained and skilled thinker, thinking is a tool that can be used at will and the use of this tool is practical. This ability to use ‘thinking as a skill’ is the sort of thinking ability that is required to get things DONE.

– If your total score in this test was between 51 and 60 points, you may already possess superior brainpower.

– If you scored between 31 and 50 points, you may have better than average brainpower.

– If you scored between 0 and 30, you may possess no additional brainpower other than the natural thinking ability that most people have.

___________ Record your score and post any comments you have:

Family, Friends and Colleagues
If you wish to pass it on to others you can print it out or forward this email to anyone whom you think will benefit from it, too.



What was your score? _________

In thinking about your brainpower audit what interesting comments can you make? Write 25 words or so.

1,490 thoughts on “Rate Your Own Level of Thinking

  1. this highlights that im far from perfect and in actual fact i dont hugely have a problem with that – how i make decisions etc really is a fundemental part of me. im becoming increasingly aware that mine isnt the only opinion and that i should listen to the widest view possible and pay far more attention to those of my customers

  2. 11 I’m clearly still not engaged with what I’m doing. What am I thinking about? Good question. It all starts with thinking doesn’t it.

  3. This exercise made me think about how I came to form the thinking habits that I already possess, many of them are from my childhood – which was full of tests, gradings, judgements from the various extracurricular activities I did, outside of just schooling. Although the cognition aspect is useful, some of these come from a negative (judgmental) place.

  4. 12. I seem to focus on goals & reasoning [for decisions]. Clearly need to be more engaged & think about situations.

  5. I really don’t want to enter intolerance with my level of scores in doing things for others,but what I found most doing is to increase the speed of the scores myself high or lower.

  6. 37
    I was not sure whether scoring highly on some questions was positive. eg. I am a little uncomfortable with rules, whether I have made them, or whether I expect others to follow them. In contrast, exploring and understanding decisions is more interesting to me.

  7. 39 – What I found most interesting was my reluctance to give top scores to the answers. Didn’t want to convey the impression I had “tickets on myself”. Something to explore further.

  8. With a score of 50, I realize that even if I have understood and learned reflection techniques, well practice, practice and even practice, that’s what counts: tons of theory are not worth an ounce of practice …


    Avec un score de 50, je constate que même si j’ai compris et appris des techniques de réflexion, eh bien la pratique, la pratique et encore la pratique, c’est ce qui compte : des tonnes de théorie ne valent pas une once de pratique…

  9. 51 mostly due to the mental exercise of trying to see another’s viewpoint thaught by my dad. I realised during the questions that I don’t always look at the many alternatives to an issue due to time or money constraints. In the future, it would be good to pay more attention to this aspect without falling into paralysis.

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