Steven Wallace

Steven Wallace

PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE: Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.”

One might say the late Dr. King is being too hard on humanity. I think he is right on target, and I believe his sentiment on this issue would have only deepened if he were alive today.

I had a statistics teacher that told each of his students at the beginning of class, “There are no free lunches in this course. You are going to have to work. For some of you, you are going to have to work really hard.”



He went on to explain that over the 20- plus years he had been teaching math and statistics, he has seen a steady decline in critical thinking skills. If there is not an exact sample of a math problem in the book, students cannot seem to figure it out. He continued on by saying that the principles of math and statistics are no longer being taught, only the mechanics.

He then made a chilling statement that I have often thought about since, “I used to teach undergraduate, freshman students harder stuff than I will be presenting to you in this graduate quantitative statistics course.”

I had a hard time believing this, so I found several other longtime professors who had taught at both the undergraduate and graduate levels and asked them if they too had seen students’ critical thinking skills degrade over the years. Without hesitation — and without exception — the answer was absolutely yes.

It was Albert Einstein who said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” This implies we need to not only spend time thinking, but thinking differently about tomorrow’s issues and problems than we do today.

I thought about this concept of “just thinking” on a rainy day, and found a book by one of my favorite authors, John Maxwell. Ironically, the book is called “Thinking for a Change: 11 Ways Highly Successful People Approach Life and Work.” I bought the audio book and have since listened to it several times in my car. One of the very first suggestions that Maxwell makes is each week, people need to set time aside just to think. He gives multiple examples of successful leaders who deliberately schedule time each week, month and year to think. By doing this simple habit, he suggests people can retrain their mind to think well.

Did you catch that? People can retrain their minds to think well. Big-Picture Thinking — seeing the world beyond your own needs and how that leads to great ideas. Focused Thinking — removing mental clutter and distractions to realize your full potential. Creative Thinking — stepping out of the “box” and making breakthroughs. Shared Thinking — working with others to compound results. Reflective Thinking — looking at the past to gain a better understanding of the future.

As I thought about my former professor’s comments, the ideas in this book, and then applied them to my own habits, I realized I can do much better thinking. Now, each week, I spend a little time thinking about the future of the chamber and how our organization can better support our local businesses, our municipal leaders and our communities.

I end this column with a question — perhaps even a challenge — When is the last time you spent quality time “thinking for change?”

UPCOMING EVENTS: Members are invited to celebrate the opening of a new branch of Perry, Fitts, Boulettee and Fitton, CPAs, at 259 Front St., Bath, on Oct. 17, 5 to 7 p.m.

“Five Steps to Business Freedom” is the topic for the Business Success Seminar (formerly Mid Day Chambers) on Oct. 18, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the Topsham Public Library, 25 Foreside Road. The presenter is Bob Bremm, of AdviCoach. The seminars are free.

“How to Write, Grow & Sustain an Effective Blog” is the topic for the Business Success Seminar on Oct. 23, 5 to 7 p.m., at the Priority Business Center, 2 Main St., Topsham. The presenter is Jennifer Barbour. You must register at Sustain-an-Effective- Blog/95431845/268909569?refId=7552203.

MEMBERS IN THE NEWS: The chamber welcomes Action Electric, Beauti Control Independent Consultant, ERM, and First Wave Media (Radio 900AM WCME). To discover more about these businesses, go to

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