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The Art of Clear Thinking summary

Hasard Lee

A Stealth Fighter Pilot's Timeless Rules for Making Tough Decisions

3.8 (352 ratings)
12 mins

Brief summary

The Art of Clear Thinking by Hasard Lee is a book that helps us develop better thinking habits and avoid common cognitive biases. It provides practical techniques to sharpen our decision-making skills and improve our ability to think critically.

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    The Art of Clear Thinking
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    Assess

    Stand-ups were a daily ritual when Lee was a student pilot in Air Force training. Every morning, a trainee would be randomly selected to stand in the center of the classroom, be given a theoretical emergency by their instructor, and asked to talk through how they’d handle it. Performance in this daunting exercise was closely recorded and played a role in assigning students to aircraft upon graduation.

    As you might imagine, stand-ups weren’t particularly popular amongst student pilots – but they were powerful teaching tools. So much so that the sentence they were required to start with – “I will maintain aircraft control and then analyze the situation” – has stuck with Lee throughout his career as a fighter pilot.

    This gets to the heart of the first step of problem-solving – making an accurate assessment of the situation. This is the first step to solving any problem. Lee and his peers may have been using this principle for decisions to be made in the air, but unbiased assessment is just as critical for decisions to be made in our homes or workplaces.

    Sure, it’s not uncommon to want to jump into action as soon as a problem arises – but rushing to act without gathering all available data and developing an approximate mental model can be detrimental to the final outcome. In the high-stakes world of fighter jets, pilots have died from rashly skipping this step.

    In practice, analyzing a situation – although crucial – doesn’t need to be some flashy exercise. In fact, a great place to start is simply taking a breath between the stimulus and your response.

    After learning to overcome the impulse to act immediately, student pilots are then taught to engage their senses and quickly consider each piece of information one by one. Has the cockpit increased or decreased in temperature? Where in the aircraft is that rattling sound coming from? Does that smell indicate the presence of fire or ozone? Each mini-assessment may only take a couple of seconds, but it’s an investment that breeds much-needed clarity and perspective – and, in the fighter pilots’ context, may well save their lives.

    We’re cognitively predisposed to want to solve problems as fast as possible, to hammer them away as soon as they pop up. Yet, as the ACE Helix model recognizes, many of the decisions we encounter in today’s world are dynamic and have second and third-order effects. As a result, taking a moment to pause, collect data, and form a working mental model is a moment disproportionately well spent, whether you’re navigating a supersonic jet, a disagreement with your significant other, or an unexpected setback to a group project at work. 

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    What is The Art of Clear Thinking about?

    The Art of Clear Thinking (2023) is a practical guide to decision-making as seen through the lens of a US fighter pilot. It introduces readers to the ACE Helix framework employed by those engaged in air combat while prompting you to consider how the underlying principles could be of benefit in your own life. 

    The Art of Clear Thinking Review

    The Art of Clear Thinking by Hasard Lee (2021) is a thought-provoking book that provides valuable insights into sharpening our thinking skills. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • It offers a practical approach to improve our decision-making abilities, enabling us to make wiser choices in various aspects of life.
    • With its clear and concise explanations of cognitive biases and logical fallacies, the book helps us identify and overcome common thinking errors.
    • Through evidence-based examples and real-life scenarios, the book engages readers in understanding the importance of critical thinking, making it far from boring.

    Who should read The Art of Clear Thinking?

    • Key decision-makers in any field
    • Individuals keen to improve their ability to think clearly and critically 
    • People interested in military operations

    About the Author

    Hasard Lee is a US Air Force fighter pilot and keynote speaker. Lee flew over 80 combat missions while on active duty in Afghanistan before becoming the Chief of Training Systems for the world’s largest fighter pilot training base. His YouTube videos have amassed over 130 million views to date. 

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    The Art of Clear Thinking FAQs 

    What is the main message of The Art of Clear Thinking?

    The main message of The Art of Clear Thinking is to develop critical thinking skills for better decision-making and problem-solving.

    How long does it take to read The Art of Clear Thinking?

    The reading time for The Art of Clear Thinking varies, but it typically takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in around 15 minutes.

    Is The Art of Clear Thinking a good book? Is it worth reading?

    The Art of Clear Thinking is worth reading for its practical insights and strategies to improve your thinking. It offers valuable tools for personal and professional growth.

    Who is the author of The Art of Clear Thinking?

    The author of The Art of Clear Thinking is Hasard Lee.