What a beautiful thought.
I often think about a collective attitude, integration in a team environment and commonality of purpose when I think about the places I have worked and what my passion is; project management. I am wondering if you, whatever you do, consider the people you work with like-minded? Do your co-workers have the same idea about success as you do? Do your co-workers feel the same way about the success of the projects you work on as you do? Do your co-workers see the endgame the same way you do? What is your endgame or what is your purpose for what you do?
I wonder if it matters to the independent mind.
As Mr. Hitchens suggests, to paraphrase, the idea is not what you think but how you approach a problem that is the essence of the independent mind. Having said that are the terms common vision, integration and collective approach even relevant when it comes to generating ideas and solutions to a problem? The how is much more important than the what, is it not? But, the what is why we are here. If it’s not for why we are doing what we are doing then why are we doing it?
Hey, Dr. Seuss, what the heck are you talking about?
Well, it’s funny how worlds collide. I am a huge fan of Christopher Hitchens whom I read often and I recently finished reading Simon Sinek’s book Start With Why. Talk about Dr. Seuss.
I will not attempt to school you on Mr. Sinek’s philosophy but suffice it to say that his ideas are interesting (at least to me) and he really nailed it with the idea that we first need to understand why we are doing the work we are doing before we can be truly successful at it. He goes on to cite numerous examples of real success stories and failures that bring true relevance to this idea. Check out the TED Talk for an overview of this concept. At almost 4 million views it is likely you’ve seen it already. If not, get on it!
To me, Mr. Sinek is talking about passion.
Why else do something? And if so, wouldn’t you say the idea of passion plays a big role in what you do if you actually know why you do what you do? Independent thought, in this case, is the how to get to the why otherwise you would be simply following along.
So, Mr. Hitchens statement about the independent mind makes perfect sense to me in this context. I am able to rationalize it in the way that without a collective purpose, a common vision and an integrated approach to work a group of people no matter how big or how small cannot achieve what they want to do successfully. But without the clear understanding of why we are doing it; the passion for the work, we cannot possibly be successful. So my interpretation of what Mr. Hitchens is suggesting is that the difference is how we look at our lives and our work; with passion and that passion is what drives us to make the decisions that influence how we live.
You can certainly take it in many ways and as I have said before that is what is so fantastic about a well crafted statement. Mr. Hitchens was full of these and they can really make you think. I suppose he would have wanted it no other way.
What does the independent mind mean to you?
Why are you doing what you do?
What is your passion?