Independent thoughts and their owners have always ruled the world.
It really fascinates me how a single spec of a thought can change the course of history!!
One single thought in Einstein’s prefrontal Cortex made humanity progress by leaps and bounds, and allowed us to dream of a future where we could go back in time!! One idea in Hitler’s brain cost the lives of millions of innocent Jews in the biggest Genocide of the century. One tiny speck of a thought one day in Mark Zuckerberg’s mind suddenly shrunk the World as we knew it!
As I write from smack-the-middle of the North Atlantic Ocean (Nearest land about 2000 nautical miles), my words are being conveyed through a Maritime satellite via a coast station and published over the web to Millions of potential readers around the world!! All this – because someone thought about it one day.
The cup you are holding, the computer or the mobile phone you are looking at, the company you work for was conceived first in someone’s mind before it became a reality. Your success or failure – came from one thought which you had, or someone else had for you one day.
If one such idea can be so powerful, imagine what could happen if we could manage to harness the independent thoughts of people all over the world. Our biggest problems could be solved, we could individually and together lead a far better life, benefiting from each other’s groundbreaking ideas.
It’s a humbling concept, really.
Yet surprisingly, most of us are still ignorant of the way to encourage and garner independent thoughts.
As we speak, some father somewhere is killing all innovative concepts in his kid, some Boss in some part of the world is laying out ground rules which will forever prevent the insurgency of free thinking in his office.
For all those brilliant ideas which make people millionaires every day, there are thousands of others which are nipped in the bud!
Emergence of tiny ideas
Think of those Post-it Notes, or sticky Notes so indispensable for office jobs nowadays?
Dr. Spencer Silver wanted to make a super strong glue in 1968, in 3M in the USA. However, he failed and instead ended up making a Pressure sensitive adhesive which was reusable. For 6 years he tried to market his product without much luck. In 1974, a colleague of his, Arthur Fry (picture above) saw it, tried using it to bookmark his book of Hymns and later went on to market it as a Post-it note.
It stands out as a Multi-million dollar industry today.
Every achievement big or small, have always started from one tiny spec of an idea in someone’s mind.
Inventions need not be Gravity or Relativity!
Think of the person who thought of those small umbrellas on Smoothie glasses because he thought it would be cute. Think of the person who thought of a car steering cover, because perhaps he was losing his grip. All of them – tiny specs of ideas.
What’s more, each one of us is capable of producing such ideas.
Do not ever underestimate your independent thoughts or those of others. An independent thinker is an asset to any organization.
Independent thoughts in kids
Little cues from you can make your child an independent thinker. Dealing with them properly can greatly enhance their independent thoughts.
Here are a few things to think about.
- When we are young, we are limited in too many places. We are often told “Don’t do this”, “don’t do that” “That’s risky” That is not how to do it!!” and so on.
Try saying less of those. Unless they are harming others or themselves in the process, let them think freely!!
2. Encourage the free thinking of your child. If one day your child draws something really weird and brings it to you, do not shut them off. Ask them what it is. They often have a lot more imagination than us. When we grow older, free thinking is curbed by social norms and in trying to keep up with the peers.
3. Reward your kid for every original thought he has. It may be obvious to you, but not to your kid. Appreciate that. He is desperately looking at you for approval with a lot of enthusiasm! That’s the kind of enthusiasm which will help him win in life – way more than academics!!
Every time he has discovered how to fix his broken toy, or how to draw a face out of a circle, reward that!!
That thought is ingenious and will win him deals!!
Did you know the capacity of your kid’s brain is more than twice that of an adult till the age of seven? Ever wondered how your toddler can pick up two to three languages by the age of two? Try doing that yourself. The capacity that they have is often curbed down by unintentional inhibitors from parents or teachers.
Let them make their mistakes, they might come up with different ideas. Create divergents!!
How to handle free thoughts in a profession
- In your professional life, if you have independent thoughts, share with your colleagues or your seniors.
- If you think an idea can change your relationship with someone for the better, go ahead and try it!! It may be apparently absurd but trust your gut feeling. Your gut can do miracles should you trust it!!
- If your junior has independent ideas encourage that. Such people want to be appreciated.
- As their boss do not always tell everyone how to do it – ask your people, let them pool in ideas – you will find much better ways to do the same thing. At times, just listen & encourage. You will build up team spirit.
- While you learn from their ideas, they feel important around you – perfect WIN – WIN.
- As a leader, never take credit for an idea which is not yours, even if you can. Let the whole world know it was their idea, not yours. It will encourage everyone to follow the footsteps.
- When that person looks up to you as being honest in your intentions, you will also feel good.
Large organizations run on ideas. Yet, very few of us appreciate the importance of fresh innovative concepts.
The role of a leader in developing innovative thoughts
When I assume command of my ship, every month an idea is sent to the office for everyone’s benefit. Someone on board generates it, and his name is well highlighted for it.
It gets circulated all over the fleet.
It seems that out of the hundreds of ships my company manages, only a handful do this. Yet there are so many employees with so much of experience on each ship. Only a few open up.
Some do not, because they are not encouraged to do so. They follow the norm.
But when I send these novel valuable ideas in the name of my juniors, and their names come out in the Monthly publications circulated all over the fleet, I see the joy and enthusiasm in them. That gives me immense satisfaction.
The purpose of a Leader should be to create more leaders, not more followers.
My ship has 24 crew members, with an experience ranging from 2 years to 35 years. That is, conservatively, about 300 years of combined experience.
Imagine what I could do if I get everyone to open up!!
Imagine my potential if I learn to work with three centuries of experience with me!!
What to do as an employee
There is a possibility that you may be working in an environment where such things are not encouraged. That’s a loss for the company, not for you.
- There are several places where new ideas can be advocated and publicized, if not in your work environment. Do not lay them to waste. Browse the internet. You will get appreciated for innovative thoughts.
- Enhance your work practices with your ideas. You can even get a pat on the back once in a while.
- Make a note of all such ideas you have. That will be invaluable someday.
Your mind has the potential of an Atomic Bomb.
Used properly, it can make or break organizations and relationships.
Where ever you stand in the corporate food chain today, do not join the mob every time. Think differently. You will stand out of the crowd.
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