More from William Deresiewicz's article on leadership and solitude, focusing again on thinking:
"I find for myself that my first thought is never my best thought. My first thought is always someone else’s; it’s always what I’ve already heard about the subject, always the conventional wisdom. It’s only by concentrating, sticking to the question, being patient, letting all the parts of my mind come into play, that I arrive at an original idea.
By giving my brain a chance to make associations, draw connections, take me by surprise. And often even that idea doesn’t turn out to be very good. I need time to think about it, too, to make mistakes and recognize them, to make false starts and correct them, to outlast my impulses, to defeat my desire to declare the job done and move on to the next thing."
My favorite book on Critical Thinking is by Gerald Nosich: Learning to Think Things Through: A Guide to Critical Thinking Across the Curriculum, because it includes this simple definition of critical thinking, something like "Critical thinking is thinking about our thinking in order to improve it." It has very clear and understandable chapters on the elements and standards of critical thinking, thinking like your discipline, and how to realize that what you learn in school is not just "school stuff."
What Deresiewicz is writing about, seems to me, are some of the things we must do in order to start the process of critical thinking.