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  • Writer's pictureTrisha Lord

Independent Thinking in a Thinking Environment

Independent thinking is the intention and purpose of creating a Thinking Environment, but I wanted to unpack that a little bit and talk about what do we mean by independent thinking.

A lot of people might hear that expression: "Think for yourself," and go: "Well, of course! I do think for myself." And of course, that's true.

You do think for yourself. You do it all the time. You wake up into thinking, you think all day long, and then you go to sleep, then a different kind of thing happens, and then you wake up again, and you start all over again, thinking for yourself.

But what we mean by independent thinking in the Thinking Environment is that, when you're thinking for yourself, when you're really truly thinking for yourself, you have confidence and courage, and trust in the quality of your thinking.

You're interested in your own thinking, and you trust your intelligence, and what that means is that you stop second guessing yourself.

And it certainly means that you stop editing yourself.

I want to say something more about not editing yourself because, of course, we do all know that - in certain environments and in certain contexts - there are things that you would say or not say, depending on what the context is. It's a little bit like there's a slightly different version of you that shows up around a dinner table with a bunch of friends to the you that shows up around the dinner table with your family, to you that shows up around the boardroom table with your colleagues. So that's a given, and I'm not suggesting that we don't change who we are, to a certain extent in order to be appropriate for the environment that we're in. And there are different cultures, and different norms and different expectations in different settings and different places where we find ourselves.

But independent thinking really means that, when you're asked what you think in any of those situations, you have the courage and feel confident to be able to say what you think, and to be able to share how you feel, and to be able to say what you really want to say, and that you have the courage and the confidence to move beyond editing yourself and second guessing yourself and wondering if what you're saying is good enough, smart enough, bright enough, intelligent enough, whether it will be approved of by others, whether or not it's acceptable.

So these conditions for independent thinking that we talk about creating in a Thinking Environment: the Ten Components of a Thinking Environment - which I've already referred to in previous videos - are all about creating an environment in which a person feels safe to be able to say what they think and feel, and really want to say.

And I know from personal experience that what that feels like when I'm doing it is that I get interested in why what is emerging in my thinking is emerging and I trust it, and I follow it. And when I do that, what I get to discover is something quite extraordinary, because my thinking goes to places I didn't expect it would go to. And I find myself generating ideas that I certainly didn't expect I was going to generate. And I also find myself generating solutions. I find myself discovering assumptions that I've been making that I didn't know I was making. And therefore I get to make some fresh choices about whether or not I think those assumptions are now true, given what it is that I'm thinking about.

So it's a little bit like going on a magical mystery tour. It's about going on a journey with yourself, thinking for yourself. And in order to be able to do that, you need to be able to move beyond the fear of judgment and evaluation, and the fear of worrying about whether what you're saying is good enough.

And that is what gets created for you when you're in a Thinking Environment. And discovering what you think and feel and really want to say about the things that are important to you in your life is the consequence of what happens when people are creating a Thinking Environment for you.

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