Train of Thought

A train of thought is a systematic process to think through issues.

First, facts and data are gathered. Then, assumptions and risks are considered. Finally, an informed decision is made and appropriate action is taken to achieve a goal.

Critical thinking encourages digging deeper into issues and challenges. This is done by thinking through an objective. The more critical the challenge, the more thinking thought is required.

Here is an example:

Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay were the first to successfully climb Mount Everest and return alive. Hillary paid close attention to the smallest details.

Hillary invested a full day checking oxygen cylinders and determining flow rates ( gathering facts and data ). He understood that carefully thinking through their objective could be the difference between life and death.

Having enough oxygen to make the round trip would be essential ( an assumption ) because it was critical for survival (risk).

Due to his understanding of the oxygen needs for the journey ahead and always observant, Hillary spotted half-empty oxygen bottles along the way. He decided to pick them up for later use.

After Hillary and Norgay reached the summit of Mt. Everest, they changed their almost empty oxygen bottles with the bottles they had picked up. This got them safely back to camp. #1


"It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves."
~Sir Edmund Hillary


1. Nancy Gondo, One Man’s Ascent to Greatness—Focus helped Sir Edmund Hillary climb to the top of the world Investors Business Daily, June 12, 2003, p.A4.

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