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‘An unexamined life is not worth living’ Socrates

Last weekend I took myself off to Landmark Education to do a newly developed program – called ‘Direct Access’ – and whilst I was not quite sure what I wanted to get out of the program I was delighted to see how the organization has evolved since I was last there seven years ago. This is an organization that has been listening to its customers and the customer touch points were noticeably improved. It made the whole education process so much easier.. and often it is the little things that get in the way of us being able to really get the most from such an event.

The program touched on many aspects of thoughts and thinking… and how human nature means that we on the whole are quite sloppy at it. The question was posed:

“What does it take to think rather than just have thoughts?”

“If you gave up thinking ie using your brain as soon as it gets challenging then you don’t really get to exercise your brain” – Like any muscle it is repetition and strain that develop it – the brain is not different.

“By nature people avoid the strain of really thinking – we tend to take short cuts”…

Thinking about thinking got me thinking – how much do I really do of it… or do I just have random thoughts that fire off, that I latch on to and run with straight away. What does it take to really think something through?

We were given this quote:

“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.

And often even that idea doesn’t turn out to be very good.

I need time to think about it, too, to make mistakes and recognize them, to make false starts and correct them, to outlast my impulses, to defeat my desire to declare the job done and move on to the next thing.”

William Deresiewicz Former professor of English at Yale, from his lecture to the US military Academy at Westpoint in October 2009


By nature many entrepreneurs are impulsive – we get on with doing things. We have a tiny glimmer of an idea and off we race, ready to change the world. Maybe not all entrepreneurs are like this…

I would argue that it is great to have people around you who can help you see different points of view and to add weight to the thinking process. I suspect this is what coaches do best.

What are your thought about thinking? For instance sometimes I write to help me think; other times I think to help me write.

Reader Interactions


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