Private Revolution: D Is for Divergent Thinking

This post is part of the April A to Z Blog Challenge. For more on my 2016 theme of Private Revolution, see A Is for Ambition. Click here to read all posts in the Private Revolution A to Z Challenge blog series.

Are you more comfortable with convergent thinking or divergent thinking?

If you’re not sure (and even if you are), read “What Type of Thinker Are You?” by Toni Bernhard.

Convergent Thinking. Convergent is a form of the word “converging” and so it means “coming together.” Convergent thinking is what you engage in when you answer a multiple choice question (although, in real life, we often only see two choices). In convergent thinking, you begin by focusing on a limited number of choices as possibilities. Then you choose the “right” answer or course of action from among those choices.

Divergent Thinking. By contrast, divergent means “developing in different directions” and so divergent thinking opens your mind in all directions. This opens possibilities in your life because it leads you to look for options that aren’t necessarily apparent at first….A divergent thinker is looking for options as opposed to choosing among predetermined ones.

Divergent thinking is a crucial part of creativity, and Toni explains how it also plays an important role in everyday problem-solving and bigger life decisions.

Today’s post is short and sweet as I am juggling too many balls on this Wisconsin election Tuesday (but I did manage to vote!).

6 thoughts on “Private Revolution: D Is for Divergent Thinking

  1. Also watching the primary results come in. Love the topic of divergent vs convergent thinking.

    I’m definitely divergent – to the chagrin of my husband! He frequently points it out. Pros for divergent are many but negatives too. For me that occurred in standardized multiple choice exams. While I always did well, I never truly mastered the art of those exams. I struggled knowing what they “wanted” me to choose with such limited choices. I was constantly seeing exceptions and alternate interpretations of the questions and answers.

    Best of luck tonight, Wisconsin!

    • Thanks, Marianne! You’ve helped me to understand this topic better. I’m definitely divergent, too, with enough convergent thinking to have done well in school but, like you, I never internalized much of that knowledge in the way, say, my son does, whose convergent thinking skills are much stronger. I know I’m happiest when I am doing work that is more divergent (or that combines both kinds of thinking) and am nearly miserable when I’m in a situation when convergent thinking is all that is required or expected.

      Wisconsin did well! It was also good in the past few weeks to get some press that went beyond cheese and brats and beer. 🙂

  2. I was just thinking about this idea in connection with a new interest of mine: Repairers of the Breach (a not-for-profit group that helps the homeless jump back in to society). I went in not knowing much about them, but they asked for ideas. I’ve been hard pressed to come up with much (divergent thinking). So I’ve been concentrating on figuring out the system…making sense of their mission…trying to bring this huge project they have down to some common denominators (convergent thinking). Once there I hope I will have a better chance of coming up with new ideas about the directions we might go.

  3. I like the idea of looking for options and creating them yourself. I find that to be a very liberating concept!

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