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Thinking hurts

By Luis Manuel Aguana

Before I titled this note I checked in my search engine to see who had used the same expression before, surprising me that there were even poems titled in that way. There are musical groups, songs, reflections, articles, all of them with a different focus for those words. I decided then to title this note equally to add an additional focus to such diverse manifestations.

Indeed, for me the expression has always meant the tendency that people naturally feel when from outside they notice the complication in any matter, preferring to use someone else's judgment to make a decision, without using their own reasoning ability. Hence the expression that "thinking hurts" not because it is difficult, but sometimes we look for a reason not to. That's not a bad thing if by taking someone else's judgment, they deserve such recognition.

But when you let someone else think for you, that person better not let you down because in some cases your own life can depend on it. In terms of leadership, it is usually that way of acting that differentiates those who follow from those who are followed.

And that aspect of leadership is decisive because people in most cases follow their leaders because they trust that their criteria and decisions are thought and studied. They decide not to "think" about complex problems, leaving that to those they trust because they believe in good faith that these leaders will "think" well for them. And that in Venezuela has so far proved to be a catastrophe.

It turns out that this “leadership” has swindled people into that important aspect of thinking about solutions, confusing it with deciding in favor of what they think the "people want," rather than working for something previously thought out and studied after a thorough analysis for the benefit of the majority. It pains them to think... and it escapes them that they are denied that in their capacity as those responsible for the fate of others.

And why do I say that with such certainty? Just look at the results of the opposition disaster. Do you know of any opposition "situation room"? We know that the regime has one in Miraflores, because they themselves have said so, as well as others sponsored by Cuban intelligence. That's just a sample of the importance that if the adversary - unlike us - gives to thinking. And what do we do? React to what they first think and then execute. It is no wonder the opposition results have been so poor in recent years.

Possibly the reasons for this repeatedly reactive and absurd behavior of our leadership can be found in a very interesting article in Harvard Business Review's The Forsaken Art of Thinking by Rakesh Jain (see in, where the author describes symptoms that are very similar to what is happening in Venezuela, especially in the opposition sectors:

“Action has become rhetoric for all the problems and instant action is much sought after and celebrated.  But growing chorus towards action is taking its toll on time available for thinking for the choice of action. Due to growing multitasking in life, people are forgetting the art and science of thinking.”.

Hence, in the best style of classical populism, leadership seeks impact actions that say that "we are doing something" but without any long-term substance, forgetting its main role of thinking about structural solutions, which are precisely the product of time and work invested in active reflection:

“Conscious zone of mind is about less action and more reflection while subconscious mind is programmed for managing the action reaction cycle. While the conscious brain is about processing information, creating new knowledge and consumes more energy, subconscious brain is about automation, routine and speed. Thinking is a conscious brain activity and it is essential for the mind to move away from action to shift its focus from subconscious to conscious zone.”.

Do you realize that we are moving away from solutions while acting without thinking? The mind needs time for that later action to have the effectiveness required for success. If we do not take that time to think about solutions to new situations, according to the author, we will repeat the actions already known, which in my opinion is the moat where we all always fall as a result of an empty leadership of ideas:

“Thinking is a pre-requisite for breaking the action- reaction cycle. A new action will always require thinking and in the absence of conscious brain activity, we will continue on the cycle of old action- reaction. Thinking is also necessary for finding solution to a new problem or devising new actions. In the absence of thinking we will choose our actions from the repository of old actions stored in the subconscious mind.”.

The author ends with the thesis of making thought a routine and incorporating it into the action itself, as part of people's lives. In my opinion, that would only come after many times doing the right thing within the think-action cycle. My aspiration now would be that at least we should at least begin to stop and think:

“Today, world is what it is because of thinking done by few people. Let us imagine the world what it would be if thinking becomes a part of life for all the people living on this world. To achieve this goal, we will have to stop the celebration of action and allow time and space for introspection, meditation and reflection.”.

Unfortunately, like the world, our country is what few people have thought about. And that is not going to change in the short or medium term. We will be victims of the success or failure of the few. Then those few who have assumed responsibility for driving the opposing wagon should allow themselves time to think about proposals and solutions. It is not enough to go to the streets as an action if there is not a clear thought behind it that includes how that action will have the results we all hope for.

So, like the poet Aquiles Nazoa in his immortal Creed, I likewise “believe in the creative powers of the people”. That's why I am finally convinced that in 2018 only the people will come up with a solution that doesn't hurt them to think...

Caracas, December 28 ,2017


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