Thoughts on Thinking

If everyone is thinking alike, then no one is thinking.” – Benjamin Franklin

My eldest son was looking at a mountain yesterday and asked me how people made the folds in it that extended from near the top all the way to the lake below. He said it looked like giant drapes pulled closed over the mountain.

In the course of explaining that those folds were likely formed when the mountain was formed and that man may not have had much if anything to do with it, he stopped me and said, “Well, man created just about everything else on earth, didn’t he?” I thought about it a bit and had to agree. Just about everything we know on earth was created by man in the not-too-distant past.

The world we know – the farmsteads and mighty cities, its fashions and customs, vehicles that move on its various surfaces and so on – are all the product of man’s ingenuity. Most were born out of conflicting ideas. The stronger ones survived and the weaker either became the seed for a newer and better idea or simply receded into the forgotten past. Thinking created the world we live in and thinking will create the world our children live in.

My favorite place to work is at the confluence of discordant thoughts. I love seeing creativity clawing its way out of creative tension. More importantly, I love working with people who are passionate about what they think, yet wise enough to recognize and acknowledge what is fitting. Such a combination is rare, for most thus endowed tend toward obstinacy.

One of the secrets to harnessing creative tension lies in your ability to articulate and reiterate the goal or purpose shared by all. Absent this, tension quickly becomes counterproductive and those involved quickly become entrenched in the way they see it.

4 thoughts on “Thoughts on Thinking

  1. Rowan

    Stubbornness in thinking is unfortunately more popular than not.

    To be able to relax while there is creative tension is sublime. As an artist, there is always tension – shape, color, mood, tool, perspective – all essential for design, yet without relaxation, there is no flow or movement. I have found the same applies not only to thought, but to conversation.

  2. Lady Leo

    Understanding the shared goal is like keeping your eye on the ball in certain sports. This is a must for your contribution be relevant . The distractions can come in when the means by which a thing is accomplished becomes the point rather than the fulfillment of the shared purpose. Obstinacy is often a symptom of fear. Fear of failing or revealing ignorance; the list could go on.

  3. Chuck Reddick

    Being disciplined in our thinking is a must if we are to discover our true greatness and value in and to this world of ours. Not only in a creative way as you mention Gregg, but also in our thinking habits. When I first heard Earl Nightingale’s Strangest Secret, it became clear to me. He mentions time and time again that “we become what we think about most of the time” and I have found that to be so true. If we think of failure or rejection, than that is likely what will happen to us. However, on the flip side of that, when we do think with creativity and with a positive and optimistic outlook than likely the ultimate outcome will be more rewarding for us and others.

  4. David R

    Good to reflect with you on the individual and collective nuances of creative thought. Listening, sharing, deliberately setting aside prejudice, fear of dissonance and other mental “shortcuts” can allow for such remarkable interchange. And yes, the world will change to reveal the character and content of our thoughts!

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