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Critical Thinking Archives - Page 2 of 11 - Andrew Wittman


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Thinking Like CRAP

Clarity – Relevance – Accuracy – Precision




Thinking like CRAP – the 4-step filtering process to run every thought through when making any and all decisions.

Clarity – To get crystal clear on the exact issue at hand, start by removing anything NOT relevant

Relevance – The Golf example: Is the bunker or water obstacle relevant to where you are hitting the ball? No, the Pin is the only thing relevant, so clear the board of the bunkers, the water obstacles, the rough areas, etc. FOCUS only on what is relevant.

Accuracy – Be accurate in what the obstacles are – i.e. the distance to the Pin (185 yards is different than 200 yards), the wind, which way the ball will roll upon landing on the green.

Precision – Be precise and specific in the language of your thoughts.  “I always slice the ball”  – the word “always” is neither accurate nor precise. Instead, “I have tendency to slice the ball when my focus on the fundamentals of my swing is directed to the bunkers.”

With daily practice, thinking like CRAP becomes natural and fluid and orders your thoughts, emotions, and attitude to help you grab the best 126 bits/second of information for action.

Boo Yah!

Mental Toughness on Out of Bounds


CLICK Here to Listen to the latest Mental Toughness segment on WCCP The ROAR with Qualk and Dutch – Out of Bounds Nov 12, 2014


This week we discussed the mindset needed for FSU to overcome the continued drop in the College Playoff Rankings and the mental misfiring of the Chicago Bears offense.

Catch the Mental Toughness segment on Out of Bounds with Qualk & Dutch LIVE each Wednesday at 11:25am on WCCP 105.5 The Roar. CLICK HERE

Your Attitude is Yours and Yours Alone

“If I were immersed in constant melancholy, I would not be who I am.”
Elie Wiesel

attitude is a choice

Back in 2001, I was assigned to provide personal security for Auschwitz survivor and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Elie Wiesel. It was during the Days of Remembrance ceremony at the U.S. Capitol. After the event, I escorted Mr. Wiesel to his limousine. He asked about me, did I have a family, what were the children’s ages, etc. It was an amazing experience to be inside his space for that short period of time.

When we arrived at his car, he shook my hand, thanked me and asked if there was anything he could do for me. WOW! I told him there was one thing he could do, he could share with me how he made it through the Holocaust and yet was so kind and sincere, without a trace of bitterness.

“No prison, no tyrant, no war criminal, no dictator or persecutor can touch your attitude. They can destroy your body, but your attitude is yours, and that is what defines you.”

With that, he squeezed my hand, got into the limo and my time inside his space was over – but the impression will last a lifetime. Our attitude is our choice. It is the last bastion of freedom, a fortress that no human can breach, unless we open the gates from the inside.

Every situation doesn’t call for a “positive” attitude, for example in the midst of getting shot at, I have never found myself thinking “sunshine, waterfalls and unicorns” about those doing the shooting. Use your power to choose your attitude wisely, and deploy it strategically. But whatever you do, don’t open the gates to your citadel and abdicate your choice to others or outside circumstances, don’t give anyone or anything that power over you.

Your attitude is yours and yours alone.
Boo yah!

Shoulder to Shoulder

When I was a street cop, the way the good officers judged whether another officer was a good partner, was not based on the other officer’s personality, gender, race, looks, cologne, or any criteria other than, will this officer backing me up, leave me in a fight?

 spartans batte formation

Over the years, as a cop, federal agent, and security contractor, I have been privileged to partner with many good men and women, standing shoulder to shoulder with me, facing any threat that came our way, and never leaving me during the fight.  I have also experienced many, many more folks that bailed out, and ran at the first sign of trouble.  Some of them, wouldn’t even show up and answer the 9-1-1 call if it sounded dangerous.  (Those folks, oddly enough, got promoted.)

The only true way to find out who is who, is to actually be in a fight.  It doesn’t have to be a physical fight, it might be financial, or emotional; it could be sickness, or a debilitating injury; it might be an issue affecting your children, your spouse, your job or a dear friend.  After 27 years together, Kim, my wife, has never left me in a fight (and in that amount time, we’ve faced some pretty tough fights).  On the flip side, I’ve never left her flank open.  We stand shoulder to shoulder, no matter what.  We aren’t looking to partner up with folks that turn tail and run at the first sign of trouble, either.  It turns out badly for everyone involved.

The ancient Spartans utilized what they called a “phalanx”, as their standby battle formation, to face any threat.  The warriors would stand shoulder to shoulder, protecting each other with their shields.  As long as the line was held, they would prevail in the fight.  If someone in the line cut and run, the whole line would collapse, the integrity of the protective formation disintegrate, and the battle was lost.  Be very selective of who you let into your phalanx.  Your success depends on it.

Boo Yah!!

Mirror, Mirror…

Don’t Mistake Bringing Clarity For Being Confrontational


As a Critical Thinking and Mental Toughness Consultant, I have been accused of being confrontational, nothing could be farther from being accurate. Often, bringing clarity, by offering a path to objective reality, is mistaken for being confrontational. In my role as a consultant, I offer a question or a series of questions for the client(s) to ask themselves. I don’t ask the questions to them, I offer them questions to ask themselves. And there is no right or wrong answer, no accusations, and no moral judgments attached.

In Mental Toughness we strictly judge results, e.g. Ask yourself:

Is my attitude helping me or hurting me?
Is not going to the doctor for a checkup helping me or hurting me?
Am I deluding myself in any area of my life? (Health, Career, Relationships, Finances, etc.)

Many times over, I have had clients react to the clarity they hired me to bring, by lashing out, “You should be nurturing and not so confrontational. We didn’t have these problems until you came here.”

As my wife’s sweet Southern Belle Grandmother would say, “Bless their darlin’ hearts.” That’s akin to going to the doctor for a physical and being diagnosed with Type II Diabetes and blaming the physician, “I didn’t have Diabetes before I came to you!”

I can remember sitting in a series of meetings with a guy who said at least 6 times that he had twenty CEO’s lined up to present a project he was working on. Finally, after two months of these claims, someone asked him who they were, could he name them, or at least the companies. “Twenty” CEOs became “two” CEOs, and he immediately began complaining that folks were being confrontational.

Like the Queen in the fairy tale “Snow White”, no one likes to take an honest look in the mirror and have it point out anything unflattering, myself included. However, the momentary sting of objective reality has become something I crave, for without it, no problem can be solved –
Not in my health (not eating right or excising and then avoiding the doctor’s diagnosis doesn’t mean I’m healthy),

Not in my business (just because a customer says their word is their bond doesn’t mean I don’t get it in writing),

Not in my marriage (not putting my spouse first, like I affirmed in my marriage vows, can be spun anyway I want… but why should I think that approach would work? Divorce stats answer that question. And oh, by the way, not getting married and avoiding the vows, is like avoiding the doctor, the “divorce” still hurts, and Type II Diabetes can still kill you),

Not in my relationship with my kids (buying them stuff but not keeping my word and being there for them isn’t creating trust),

Not in my finances (still having available credit on my Visa to spend is not being prosperous).

Asking for clear, relevant, accurate and precise information isn’t being confrontational, it is critical thinking, it is objective reality, it is the basis and foundation of wise decisions that bring worthy and valuable results.

The mirror ain’t wrong, so don’t blame anyone else for what you see staring back at you. Oh, an avoiding the mirror, like the doctor, isn’t going to make you not have what you don’t want to see.

Boo Yah!

It’s All Relative, Sweetheart!

“There’s always a bigger fish.” – Qui-Gon Jinn


The first time I remember becoming aware that what I thought was “big”, was relative, I was in Honduras. It was early 1990 and I was deployed on a counter-terrorist op. As we were moving from the airfield to our bivouac area, I noticed a big hilltop estate, completely walled and gated. It was adorned with a huge satellite dish (an old school dish, the kind that pre-dated Direct TV and Dish). I asked our translator who the lavish villa owner was, surely a plantation owner or corporate big wig.

“Huh, that house up there? That’s the house of a retired U.S. Navy Chief.”

“What?” The mansion and estate was owned by a retired E-7, the same pay-grade as a Marine Corps Gunny? Full retirement pay for a Gunny, at that time, was about $2000 a month. What is NOT that big in the U.S. ($24,000 annual income), was HUGE in Honduras. That Chief figured it out, and he’s not the first; I ran into several hundred of those guys in the Philippines.

On the other side of the coin, during the time I was personally protecting one of the richest families in the world, I was assigned to the wife during a shopping trip to Manhattan. Prada, Bottega, Louis Vuitton, were just a few stops on the tour of seemingly endless luxury boutiques. Places where the retail clerk wears white cotton gloves to handle the merchandise from the display case, or off the shelf.

After hours of careful study, my protectee had decided on a handbag, it was ostrich skin. Oh, the price? $30,000.00 (yeah, you read that right, 30 GRAND). The wife looked at me during checkout and said, “You know Andrew, that’s somebody’s mortgage payment.” (And in the circle she travels in, it most likely was – in my circle, more like the price of a car.) For her, it wasn’t even like two hundred dollars. It’s all relative – the business empire, built by her husband, produces over a thousand dollars each and every second, of each and every day, and doesn’t take any days off.   (How he built that from literally nothing is a case study in itself.)

Does that shock you? Bother you? Did you find yourself saying, “I would never spend that much on a handbag!”?

Did the Navy Chief’s story shock you? Bother you? (The local Hondurans were thinking about the chief’s house, the same way you were just thinking about the handbag.)

Most of the entire planet lives on less than two dollars a day, they would most likely be shocked and bothered by your purchases and life style as well. As Haymitch, from the Hunger Games would say, “It’s all relative, sweetheart.”

I choose to aspire to being able to buy my wife such a purse, instead of decrying the extravagance of it. Just as my two cars and my 3000 sq. ft. house, with two flat screen TVs and indoor plumbing is extravagance to most of the population of Earth.

The next time someone (or you) use language like, “This is a really difficult problem,” or that something is “Expensive,” – try asking (out loud) “Compared to what?”

Boo yah!

Facts Ain’t Always The Truth

Facts and Truth are two completely different entities.


Facts and Truth are two completely different entities. Facts are something that have actual existence. A fact is merely information, neutral, independent and objective. As a cop, investigating a crime, I was always in search of the facts. If, and when, a case went to court, witnesses would swear an oath to tell the truth. We know, for a fact, that eye witnesses are unreliable at best. Why? Because, people deal in truths, not in facts. The truth is our internal perception of the facts and circumstances that make up the experiences of life.

For example, the fact is, it is 68 degrees outside. The truth is, that after 3 years of living in Hawaii, 68 degrees was downright cold. However, it is also truth, after spending a winter in Serbia and Kosovo, 40 degrees felt balmy, and 68 degrees is heat stroke territory.

Facts cannot change, they are unalterable. Truth, on the other hand, is pliable. Knowing this, we can take the facts of any circumstance and perceive them from any angle we want, creating for ourselves, a truth or truths. (Heads up, you are already doing this and have been your entire life, usually to your detriment.) Truths are what beliefs are founded on, we take action on our truths. Almost everyone knows the medical facts that fast food isn’t good for you, but for most of us, the truth is that “it’s okay.” (Based on the fact that the fast food industry does billions of dollars in sales each and every year, and the fact that 1 out of 10 deaths are related to obesity. It’s killing us, but we’re bellied up to the fry-daddy feeding trough.)

I’m reminded of the story of the 300 Spartan Warriors of the battle of Thermopylae in 480 B.C. The Persians were attacking Greece during a Spartan holiday and it was against Spartan law to go to war during the holiday. To work around the law, the Spartan king, Leonidas, selected 300 members to serve as his bodyguard and accompany him on a “stroll” to the battlefield.

Legend has it that he selected only warriors that had living sons to carry on their family’s bloodline, because the mission was a one-way ticket. The King, in his wisdom, went further and selected the warriors based on their wives’ and mothers’ ability to show courage and leadership under the grief of losing husbands and sons. Leonidas believed that if the wives and mothers were bitter and depressed, it would spread like a disease, cascading into the defeat of all free Greeks.

In essence, the warriors were chosen based on their wives’ and mothers’ abilities to take the facts of war, gore and the death of their dearest loved ones, and apply the higher truths of freedom, liberty and patriotism for the good of the nation.
We must collect as many unbiased, objective, and evidence-based facts as possible, in order to make logical, well-reasoned and clear decisions. We must also perceive the facts in way that elevates us and puts us on the path to success and fulfillment, in even the face of the deepest sorrows.

What truths are you using as “facts” in your decision making? (This is not good)
What truths are you manufacturing that puts you on the path of fear, depression or defeat? (Also, not good)
Can you create new truths by changing your attitude, perception and level of awareness that will put on a path to confidence, fulfillment and happiness? (Yes, you can and this is good)

Remember, Danger is a Fact – Fear is a manufactured Truth… but so is Love.

Boo Yah!

Inconsistently Consistent?

“To be a consistent winner means preparing not just one day, one month or even one year – but for a lifetime.”

Bill Rodgers – Marathon Man


One of the saddest things to witness as a coach, is seeing a client do totally awesome for several months, lose body fat, gain lean muscle, look great, see their countenance change for the better, and then stop doing all the things that produced their success.  Sometimes they try to “get back on the wagon” of good habits, actions and behaviors, only to stop again after a few weeks.  Then on again and off again, with downward spiraling results and eventually finding themselves in worse shape than the beginning.

The on again/off again inconsistency in performance is one of the biggest killers of success I’ve ever come across.  Doing well for a few weeks, then coasting….then feel bad enough to start doing again for a few weeks, then backsliding some more.  Over and over, the only thing consistent is their inconsistency.

Yes, routine is boring sometimes. When I feel bored being consistent, I remind myself of the time I was flying in a corporate jet with an ex-fighter jerk, I mean jock, as the pilot.  He decided he was bored with consistent flight, and started doing some “Goose and Maverick” crap.  The boss wasn’t in the bird, we were dead-heading back home, only an aide, me, and Mr. Ex-fighter (and soon to be ex-corporate aviation) jock.  Fuel was burnt, stuff was launched across the cabin, coffee spilled, suit jackets stained,  and oxygen masks dropped…. but hey, he wasn’t bored.  Nor was he consistent.  I like consistency, a lot.  And so do you….

Can you imagine an inconsistent commercial pilot? There’s a news story for you. What about an inconsistent surgeon? Any volunteers to be his or her next surgery patient? Most of us get torn out of the frame if the garbage pickup isn’t consistent, or the mail runs late, or the cell signal goes in and out.  How about inconsistent cable or satellite TV during a big game, or the series finale “Breaking Bad“?  Power outage at the Super Bowl? At your house?

We don’t tolerate anything less than consistent performance from our entertainment service providers, not to mention our favorite franchise quarterback, who is prone to throwing the 4th Quarter interception,  but we’re usually okay with inconsistency in our own performances. Man DOWN!! What’s the number to 911 again? (What if the 911 Operators weren’t consistent? Just asking...)

Boo Yah!!