The Conditions for Good, Bold Thinking

Progress – of the beautiful and big-spirited kind – will not be powered by timid, conventional ideas.

The world needs good, bold thinking.

And what I’ve discovered about my thinking is that it is rarely good or bold when I’m behind a desk.

Most all of the energetic ideas and exciting solutions I’ve had have come to me when I’ve been out walking.

It’s a bit like when you’re trying to think of a word and your mind is churning, churning, churning, you’re so close to landing on it, but it’s just not coming to you. Then you grab the keys, hop in the car, and while you’re driving to get your oil changed and a little annoyed at the late afternoon traffic, the word drops gently into your mind.

I do my best thinking when I’m not sitting at a computer and yelling at myself to Think, Think, Think. Walking helps to release some of the pressure I can feel when I’ve strapped myself to a desk.

Other things I’ve found that help: a good night’s sleep, sunlight or warm lamplight, not being cold or hungry, morning time rather than nighttime.

I’m saying all this because our days are filled with clues about what the conditions are, and aren’t, for free thinking. Our work is to notice them.

A helpful starting point can be to note what’s going on when our thinking is most wide open and also when it’s most closed shut. Was I outside or in? At a computer or at the kitchen counter? With people or alone? Mid-morning or mid-evening?

These are all data points. And the more we gather them, the more they can help guide us towards what the conditions are for our best, boldest thinking.

There’s no formula that I know of; the conditions will vary from person to person. But the more we notice them, the more we can create those conditions, and the more we can think beyond timidity and convention.

And while the world needs many things, this surely is one.

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