Mental models don’t just affect our thoughts, they also influence our actions. We use mental models every day even when we are not consciously aware of it. With just a few mental models at our disposal, we are bound to develop familiar patterns of behavior because our thoughts and decisions will be limited to the range of mental models we have. In this case, when challenges arise, we will inevitably fall back on old patterns to try and solve them or resign ourselves to coping with them.
If you cannot think in new ways or change your belief system, it becomes difficult to see new opportunities or overcome existing challenges. We are surrounded by aspects of biology, physics, psychology, and many other disciplines. We exist in a multi-disciplinary world where different elements coexist to form a functional ecosystem. It is therefore important to have knowledge of the big ideas or major models in the different disciplines.
For instance, if we look at the law of reciprocity in physics which stipulates that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction; it may have its basis in physics but it cuts across all aspects of life. Knowing that for every choice you make there will be a consequence that makes you consider the outcome of your decisions with the outcome in mind in effect making your decisions better thought out.
Models such as reciprocity indicate that from reach body of knowledge there are key ideas and mental models that we should have in our repertoire if we are to have a truly comprehensive understanding of the world and how it works. Restricting yourself to an area of specialization limits your options, opportunities, and ability to adapt to an ever-changing world.
When you develop a broad range of mental models, each model builds upon the other and interlink based on related concepts. These linkages create a latticework of mental models making a more effective system of thought and filtering information. The development of mental models involves the integration of acquired knowledge and experience. This integration enables inferences to be drawn from past experience.
Experience forms an important component in the structure of mental models. Mental models are necessary for the comprehension of situations and systems. By creating simplified internal representations of complex external systems and occurrences, mental models enhance our understanding of different phenomena and how they work.