As a colleague of Nan’s, I regularly post here when things grab my attention about today’s workplace and sometimes, life. One of the many hats I wear is mom. And like most moms I encouraged my children, to be both independent people and to think for themselves. Not an easy task at any age, but gets particularly difficult as adults with all of life’s responsibilities, obligations and stressors.
In today’s workplaces independent thinkers are a sought after commodity for key positions. So, how do you cultivate your own thoughts? One way is to develop a daily habit of independent thinking. Here are 7 simple ideas you can start immediately:
- Start each day with something new : a quote, a new route to work, a new food, you get the idea explore – be curious
- Try some sort of technology you aren’t familiar with: pinterest, instagram, go-to-meeting
- Listen to an atypical radio station while driving in the car
- For at least one hour (while you’re awake) turn off your cell phone, tablet, computer, basically all communication devices and noticing the world around you
- Seek out a colleague who normally thinks differently than you and discuss a work challenge
- Watch your children play or go to a playground, play a board game (yes they still exist). Play is an important ingredient to increase independent thinking
- Brainstorm more ideas to expand your thinking, choose one each week to focus on during the next 66 days (on average that is how long it takes to form a habit, give or take a few days)
Looking at the first idea, Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do.” How do you nurture your independent thinking? We would love to hear how you’re doing it?
On a related note, I have incredible admiration for the man who has walked 21 miles every day to work in Detroit for more than a decade (not missing a day) and the young college student at Wayne State University for being an independent thinker. Read their story here.