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The Framework to Create Strategic Thinkers

Sevwins users and a comprehensive new study show learning how to think by consistently answering fundamental questions leads to metacognition, quicker goal achievement and higher grade point averages.

Over the past four months a group of 250 users of the Sevwins app and College Success Training program answered more than 30,000 eliciting questions in three areas. Open-ended prompts to set goals, assess mental skills and reflect arrived by phone at consistent times, with the same nine recurring questions each week. Questions like, “What will I read to sharpen my mind?” and “What will I do to elevate others?” challenged students to write about core behaviors. The result was an improved understanding of thought process, mental clarity and positive results in broader life.

Sevwins repetitious three Power Habits reinforced productive life habits and led to touching statements from students. It also connects to a study published on June 23, 2020 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Titled “A Strategic Mindset: An Orientation Toward Strategic Behavior During Goal Pursuit”. The 3-pronged study by Carol Dweck, author of Mindset, and others, outlined the effects of metacognition. “It’s the practice of thinking about your thinking, for example by reflecting on the flaws in your process and actively searching for more effective strategies.” People who consistently ask the questions on the study’s questionnaire were more successful, even adjusted for IQ:

  • What are things I can do to help myself?

  • Is there a better way of doing this?

  • How can I do this better?

The more consistently a person asks these questions, the higher the “Strategic Thinking” score. Those with high strategic scores use metacognitive skills and see greater success, from academics to professional pursuits. Students with an awareness and understanding of their thought process were problem solvers, and more likely to have higher GPA’s. The study and the users of the Sevwins app show that the more “strategic behavior they practice, the better they should learn and perform.”

“Consider students in a college class who want to master challenging concepts before an upcoming examination. Although some may know a variety of study techniques, they may not spontaneously think to apply these techniques. However, frequently asking themselves strategic mindset questions might prompt them to plan, generate, monitor, and adjust their study techniques when needed.”

Relating the Strategic Mindset to Sevwins Growth Reps

Questions presented daily to Sevwins users drove student-athletes to answer the study’s question #1 more specifically. In three areas that make up a person, mind, body and spirit, students “help themselves” by setting reading, training and giving goals. At the end of the week question #3 in the study, “how can I do this better?”, is a reflection on the previous week. The “this” is the past seven days. The Sevwins framework also checked four core mental skills daily. Each respondent assessed their current levels of concentration, separation and communication, along with energy level. The strengthened muscle of metacognition led to these user responses related to the Dweck study:

Strategic Mindset Study:

College-aged students reported greater progress toward their professional, educational, health, and fitness goals.

Sevwins User Quote:

“This helps me to stay focused with consistency to accomplish my goals. Also, the goal to read everyday has become something I now enjoy and realize how I can transfer this effort to the field with focus and determination.” – High School Junior, Manhattan Beach, CA

Strategic Mindset Study:

“We examined the extent to which students’ strategic mindset indirectly predicted their objective college GPA through their use of metacognitive strategies in their courses.”

Sevwins User Quote:

"Your perspective changes on things that are considered challenging or not enjoyable and you conquer more things by learning how to lock in, block/separate, and talk effectively." – High School Junior, Fresno, CA

Strategic Mindset Study:

In three studies people who scored higher on (or were primed with) a strategic mindset obtained higher college grade point averages.

Sevwins User Quote:

“Only 3 days in and this is the best investment I’ve ever made.” – High School Senior, Alameda, CA

Strategic Mindset Study:

After answering filler questions, participants rated our key meditational measure: how frequently they had been applying metacognitive strategies during their pursuit of each goal within the previous week. (e.g., “While working toward my goal, I kept track of how effective my approach was.)

Parent of Sevwins User Quote:

“This is EXACTLY what he needs. A connection between his goal to move away from home and how to go about attaining that goal starting today. In The Talent Code I believe it’s called chunking.” – High School Parent, Long Beach, CA

Building a "Thinking" Framework

The elicited response is a form of priming, habit creation and an old-fashioned reps for the mind. Even without previous reps, people can learn a strategic mindset and change behavior when facing a challenge.

A group of students was asked to separate egg whites from the yolks as cleanly and efficiently as possible. The exercise was chosen to challenge participants with a novel activity requiring problem solving. Penalties were handed down for yolk that landed in the wrong bin. Participants who read articles outlining the basics of a strategic mind outperformed the control group “by a significant margin.” Their approach was described as more “reflective and inquisitive.” The implications of being able to build a thinking framework were commented on by one of the study’s co-authors, “Chen commented that it is possible that starting young could really help people in the long run.” Reps of poignant, consistent questions lead to more strategic thinking.

Imagine a college freshman sitting in an 18th Century British politics course in the semester’s dog days. “How well am I concentrating” is fundamental to control. Whether the topic is interesting becomes secondary. Through metacognitive reps, students begin to instinctively mold behaviors by asking the right questions, conceptualizing clear answers and by forming a plan for micro-action. “Focus now.” For these daily decisions, teaching a young person “what” to think is less important than showing one “how” to think.

Job Performance in the New Economy

You’re a pilot and your assignment is to land on an airport runway. While training is required, many questions have been answered. Wheels down is automated by a line of thinking, the middle-dashed stripe and hours of training. When the same pilot is forced to land unexpectedly in a desert, fluid metacognition begins. The mind leans on personal reflective thinking first, to stay calm, see well, choose the best strip or solid ground, no cactuses, and to find room to apply the brakes. Without practice, landing on sand is an open, evolving thought experiment. This type of training, according to the study, is part of a new type of job.

A key motivator of the study was to understand how to prepare people for the new economy. “Our contribution in this paper is to identify a mindset that can prompt the spontaneous accessing of metacognitive strategies.” Jobs in technology, medicine and others increasingly require a strategic mind, the study says. By teaching consideration for a range of options in professional life, Dweck sees workers who “will reach out to mentors, or seek other experts” as the thriving few.

“When he was done, [my son] looked through my library and picked up Gladwell: Outliers.” – High School Parent

The Sevwins Skill

Passion may create the need for strategic thinking, according to Dweck. Their intentional look at strategic thinking shows that this approach is better learned from the inside-out. Mindset and meta-cognition stick from small, mundane decisions. It is a habit applied to simple ideas, individual days and weeks. A student who attacks his checklist by dropping the mail, picking up lunch while making two calls in the car is in the process of building a new skill. The little app that frames thinking now has a study to encourage those more than 30,000 commitments. The framework is working. Strategic thinkers are building.


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