#04 – Rate Your Own Level of Thinking

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 …


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.

1,493 thoughts on “#04 – Rate Your Own Level of Thinking

  1. 34
    A key learning point for me is around continuing to look for alternatives even when I am satisfied. Laziness tends to kick in and that’s it, next issue…
    I also don’t tend to take a systematic approach to decision making, so this is an area I could improve

  2. 35. This test has reinforced the concept of cvs2bvs and that the status quo should not always just be readily accepted. Also, levels of engagement are driven by myself and not others.

  3. 50. I was often amazed by the lack of concentration/attention of people I come across in the workplace. I found this irritating, because even when encouraged or when things were explained, many people didn’t seem to make any effort to improve. Now I work alone at home, which means I’m no longer subject to these irritations. I don’t know if this is “interesting” or not, but I’m afraid it’s the best I can do.

    I’m also interested in whether the non-arrival of today’s email until after I asked for it was part of the course? As you can see, I am actually paying attention!

  4. 45. I often feel I over think things but maybe that’s feeling is just thinking more. This test has also showed me that while i look for the bvs in processes that aren’t working, I don’t often do the with processes that are. It has reminded me there is always look for the bvs.

  5. 28. The test showed me at times I’d rather numb myself by the ordinary and the known, all to avoid thinking.
    Really to avoid the discomfort of something new. but what is harder: to tolerate the sameness, or initial discomfort to inject some excitement by fresh perspective and activities?

  6. 46

    Thinking in the right way is usually hard work…No wonder a lot of us try to avoid it as best we can.

  7. I don’t believe everyone has a different brainpower. I do believe it is the choices we make through life that help us train our brains to be used more or less.

  8. Being retired I don’t have to think as much as I did when I held a full time work position.
    That does not mean I don’t think about what I do. I can put more time into thinking about what I really want to do.

  9. 30 – Which was surprising as I thought I would have scored higher. I am very empathetic but need to work on keeping an open mind to possible alternatives and consequences of any decisions I make.

  10. I find this test very interesting. I scored 44, something I feel it’s okay for now. at the end of this course I am sure I will be better.

  11. I scored 40. I feel like i have a good brain but final. i need to work on my speed of thinking. It seems like life needs quick responses for things to work out on your favor

  12. Score: 21
    Answering these questions highlights the following issues:
    – I like to think that I judge ideas by their value rather than emotions but in practice, in real life situations, under time-pressure, that isn’t always the case.
    – Yes, I like to consider all factors first but I find I’m easily bogged, quickly fatigued by the spiralling complexity of weighing multiple factors and conflicting information.
    – I can often see how the rules I need to obey were created and feel frustrated by their lack of logic & consistency (especially bureaucratic rules).
    – While I may not always be able to tell myself the real reason behind all decisions I make, I am, however, generally aware when that is the case or that I’m obscuring the real reasons (eg, addictive behaviours).
    – When my whole-life situation is floating and messy, there isn’t enough calm to think systematically and clearly about anything.

  13. My score was 21. At first I thought my score was real lousy, but then the idea presented above about self testing being unrealiable gave me some hope. I also really believe that the quality of decision making does improve the quality of my life.

  14. Mine was 41. Its weird because Ive always felt trapped inside my own head because of all te analytical ish going on inside of it. All the ideas and decisions and looking over the past consequences, the indecision. Cant be too democratic or republican. I feel like a hot mess but i guess they say that makes a good brain, eh? I definitely need some tuning up though

  15. I got 51. I have developed the habit in recent years of trying to think expansively before thinking selectively. The trick is to turn off your critical faculty completely before you try to come up with new ideas. Once you have come up with as many new ideas as possible then you can start being selective.

  16. My score is 39. I feel like many of the ideas in this audit are things I practice some or most of the time. However, many times I find I de-prioritise looking for alternatives or searching for consequences, following the gut. It is probably a fallacy to put these things to the side, given the importance of having contingency plans or alternatives should an issue arise. Nothing always happens the way we plan.

  17. I scored 47 , I found this lesson fantastic…
    I constantly try to think about cvs2bvs and escape ….I must confess the “attention” and “cognitive engagement” dimension is another massive upgrade leap. I will update my self-talk to consider and include being attentive and engaged ….and quantum leap will happen ……

  18. I got above average thinking score which is good. I want to be able to improve my decision-making powers and become an excellent thinker. I know that making a better decision will improve the quality of my life. I want to be able to improve my life and be able to think more clearly and make more accurate decisions

  19. 52. What I found interesting was that I consistently scored myself lower on similar things, namely looking for alternatives even when I’m satisfied. This speaks directly to the cvs2bvs shift that I hope to make.

  20. I scored myself below 20 and wanted to be totally brutal on the points that I want to see improvement. Very much looking forward to checking in again at the conclusion of the course!

  21. My score is 35. It is interesting that I “know” what it takes to be a thinker. I “know” the concepts but it my knowledge is not translated into action, to making decisions. It is tough to be a deliberate thinker that is why practice and repetition are required because our minds have a “mind” of its own.

  22. 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.

  23. 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…

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

  26. 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.

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

  28. 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.

  29. 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.

  30. 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

  31. My score was 33 and I’m quite surprised… I think that in general I tend to look at different options, measure consequences, have relatively clear objectives, before making a decision, more if it is an important one.
    I liked that one of the questions, very briefly, described what a good decision making process should be.
    Looking forward to taking the test again after the end of the course.

  32. Earlier work with SOT taught me to look for a wide range of ideas, to understand where other people are coming from and to accept thinking thru their ideas before making decisions, and to accept possibility of new ideas as I open my thought. 56 seems fair score for me.

  33. The insight for me is that there are deliberate choices to make in different dimensions of thinking. This is a powerful and liberating insight for me. This gives me focus and framework to approach to thinking, a tool I can use at my disposal and at my will.

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