7 subtle indicators you’re a high level thinker

Do you feel like you’re always one step ahead of everyone around you?

Whether it’s a casual chat with friends or a tricky problem to solve at work, you just seem to be able to grasp things faster and break down problems with ease.

In fact, you’re usually waiting for others to catch up (and have to explain things several times).

Well, I have some news for you.

No. You’re not Neo from The Matrix! (unfortunately).

But, you could be a high-level thinker (the next best thing).

Let me explain.

Some of us are just wired differently and have excellent metacognition skills. This is the ability to think about thinking and includes concept formation, analytics, visualization, and creativity.

And by the way – it has nothing to do with IQ.

So how do you know if you’re a high-level thinker?

Check out these seven subtle indicators. How many do you recognize?

1) You see things others don’t

The first big giveaway that you’re a high-level thinker, is having extraordinary observational skills.

Now, I’m not just talking about perceiving the world around you. Rather, you’re extremely efficient at taking in real-time information and joining the dots.

Let me give you an example.

You’re sat at the poker table and your opponent goes all-in. Most people would naturally assume this guy has a strong hand (after all, they’re betting all their chips to win) and fold.

But you see it differently.

You’ve noticed their partner (who’s watching from the sidelines) wants to leave. You’ve also noticed the guy has gone all-in three times in the past hour. Not to mention, the copious amount of alcohol he’s consumed.

It doesn’t take you long to work out he’s becoming impatient, and playing with reckless abandon!

You call, he shows his bluff, and you win (and he promptly leaves the party with his partner).

2) You’re super creative

High-level thinking goes hand-in-hand with creativity.

This is basically the ability to generate ideas, think outside the box, and look at something from all angles.

It’s such a superpower in fact, that when CEOs were asked “What skill do you value the most?”, they replied, “Creativity, the ability to solve problems, come up with new solutions, and use brainpower to figure things out.”

And it’s not just important in the world of business.

Whether you’re an artist, a parent, or a community leader, creativity lets you approach challenges with a fresh perspective and come up with seriously innovative solutions.

Being creative also means…

3) You love a good puzzle

In other words, you like solving problems.

Here’s the thing.

Problem-solving comes naturally to high-level thinkers. And where most people might groan at the thought of completing a Sudoku grid, high-level thinkers are genuinely excited by the prospect.

The process of trial and error, critical thinking, and mental arithmetic is actually their idea of fun!

It comes as no surprise that most high-level thinkers look for careers that involve some kind of problem-solving. Computer programmers, engineers, and financial analysts are typical jobs in high demand for high-level thinkers.

4) You’re comfortable with the unknown (and enjoy travel)

The big unknown. For most people, it’s a common source of fear and doubt.

But not for high-level thinkers!

They have no worries navigating situations that have no clear-cut answers. They thrive with incomplete information or unknown variables.

Believe it or not, your comfort level around uncertainty can manifest itself in your travel habits.

Ask yourself this.

Do you always travel to the same destination each year? Do you book an all-inclusive resort where all the unknowns are taken care of? Do you opt for tourist-friendly locations?

Or do you prefer off-piste vacations in less-trodden areas?

Well, put it this way.

High-level thinkers are more likely to go for the latter. They love adventure and don’t need to know everything in advance. They’re extremely comfortable with uncertainty.

And if has it’s benefits.

Serendipity is the phenomenon of discovering valuable things by accident.

It’s something that’s much more likely to happen to high-level (adventure-seeking) thinkers!

5) You take a step back (to see the big picture)

Another big clue that shows you’re a high-level thinker, is your ability to take a step back.

If you’ve heard the expression: “You can’t see the forest for the trees.”, you’ll know what I mean.

Where many people may experience tunnel vision and become overwhelmed by a particular problem, high-level thinkers have an uncanny talent for looking at the bigger picture.

This helps keep things in perspective and allows for the creative exploration of new ideas

Here’s an example.

Say you want to start a new business selling flowers. Rather than diving straight into it (and potentially making costly mistakes), high-level thinkers will break down the problem to formulate a logical process.

This may involve market research, financial planning, division of labor, legal compliance, and contingency planning.

6) You like asking questions

High-level thinkers understand their own strengths and weaknesses and aren’t scared to ask thought-provoking questions to find solutions.

When you boil it down, it’s about being curious.

They genuinely want to learn how the world works and will peel back the deeper layers of the onion to get there.

Many people are ashamed of their ignorance. They feel it’s a gremlin that should be locked in the closet.

But high-level thinkers see it as an opportunity to learn new exciting things.

As Carl Sagan said:

“There are naïve questions, tedious questions, ill-phrased questions, questions put after inadequate self-criticism. But every question is a cry to understand the world. There is no such thing as a dumb question.”

7) You consider all the possibilities

Finally, a big indicator that you’re a high-level thinker is being open-minded.

(It basically sums it up).

Sure, you have your own opinions (we all do).

But, you’re also more than willing to listen to other points of view and at least consider them.

After all, considering new possibilities, ideas, and approaches is how progress is made. If we all stubbornly stuck to our guns on everything, the world would develop at a much slower rate!

Picture of Leila El-Dean

Leila El-Dean

Leila is a passionate writer with a background in photography and art. She has over ten years of experience in branding, marketing, and building websites. She loves travelling and has lived in several countries, including Thailand, Malaysia, Spain, and Malta. When she’s not writing (or ogling cats), Leila loves trying new food and drinking copious amounts of Earl Grey tea.

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