The web defines to integrate as “to make into a whole by bringing all parts together; unify”. Integrative thinking is a skill that I find lacking in many but which can be learned. It is a core piece necessary to be creative. For nothing presents itself complete the first time it appears.
We are most familiar with the concept of building blocks as a form of integrative learning. Where we need to gain a first skill or obtain initial knowledge before moving on to something more complex. This is how we were trained in school. You complete first grade before starting second. With the complete picture in front of us. Leaving for us the outline and steps necessary towards acquiring a skill or knowledge.
But life isn’t like this. There is no outline. Lots of rough edges. Persistent noise amidst things that interest us. Without the luxury of infinite time, incomplete understanding prevails. Where learning becomes more experiential (primarily through experience) and many times random or serendipitous.
Our routines & consumption of media deaden our senses to pieces of information around us that could very well be helpful when integrated into other things in our life. In a meeting yesterday, I listened as someone showed the group examples of forms used to help with a certain problem. Surprisingly after the initial presentation, the other members of the group went off in very different directions. Never once trying to see how they might use the forms (new knowledge) to help in their situation.
Anything new, that you desire or aspire to, will require you to not only absorb new information but also to put things together in a new way. Leading you in a new/different direction. Forcing us into new experiences which then lead to learning. The degree to which you can do this is determined by how well you can use integrative thinking to help you piece things together in a more effective & stronger way.
Ideas, aspirations, problems, obstacles, career paths, life choices and many like this all require integrative thinking. Where by using it, you work to create a new possibility where none existed. For we mistakenly believe that everything must remain the same. Where creating a future, by putting together the pieces, can be quite energizing as well as fulfilling. Not to mention powerful when effort is put into this type of thinking.
Integrative thinking takes practice. Especially as it relates to finding new pieces to integrate. It’s not limited to either young or old. For everyone can benefit as they navigate life to create their own tomorrow. Whatever your circumstance. Be it large or small. For we are all deserving to enjoy the hope that tomorrow always promises.
It requires a vision or dream of what tomorrow might look like. The curiosity to find new things to connect. The focus to search for where they can be connected. And the patience to put in the work, take small steps, and mold seemingly unrelated things into what, in the end, surprisingly seems so apparent.
Integrative thinking, together with curiosity, are the best ways to continually create possiblility in your life. Making the journey more interesting, surprising and fun along the way (at any age)!