Thinkers and leaders

Posted on Sun 02 September 2012 in Philosophy • 2 min read

ThinkingWe talked a while ago about not looking for existing solutions; instead ponder over a problem for few days, bring out your independent thinking, your creativity and (at the least, if you decide to look for solution) a perspective to appreciate the solutions/implementations. Overall it’s an exercise in thinking - creating value, not merely consuming it.

William Deresiewicz, in his address (Solitude and leadership, October 2009) to plebe class at Westpoint Military Academy (spoiler alert, this is where you go and read the essay in entirety :)), brings up a crucial perspective to thinking: that of a Leader. (Emphasis in the quotes are mine)

…what makes him a thinker—and a leader—is precisely that he is able to think things through for himself. And because he can, he has the confidence, the courage, to argue for his ideas even when they aren’t popular. Even when they don’t please his superiors. Courage: there is physical courage, which you all possess in abundance, and then there is another kind of courage, moral courage, the courage to stand up for what you believe.

Sit over the idea. Get your thinking hat on!

I find for myself that my first thought is never my best thought. My first thought is always someone else’s; it’s always what I’ve already heard about the subject, always the conventional wisdom. It’s only by concentrating, sticking to the question, being patient, letting all the parts of my mind come into play, that I arrive at an original idea. By giving my brain a chance to make associations, draw connections, take me by surprise.

… You do your best thinking by slowing down and concentrating.

… Thinking for yourself means finding yourself, finding your own reality.

How not to do it? :)

Here’s the other problem with Facebook and Twitter and even The New York Times. When you expose yourself to those things, especially in the constant way that people do now—older people as well as younger people—you are continuously bombarding yourself with a stream of other people’s thoughts. You are marinating yourself in the conventional wisdom. In other people’s reality: for others, not for yourself. You are creating a cacophony in which it is impossible to hear your own voice, whether it’s yourself you’re thinking about or anything else

Later in the article, he puts forth the importance of Solitude. Please read it. Let me wind up with a dialogue from Peaceful Warrior, 2006 (amazing movie, watch it!).

Socrates: Everyone wants to tell you what to do and what’s good for you. They don’t want you to find your own answers, they want you to believe theirs.

Dan Millman: Let me guess, and you want me to believe yours.

Socrates: No, I want you to stop gathering information from the outside and start gathering it from the inside.

Photo credit: Thinking by Sidereal, on Flickr