On the Value of Thinking the Opposite

In his book, Whatever You Think, Think the Opposite, Paul Arden challenges great leaders to expand their thinking by challenging their own views and taking the risk and challenge to see the world differently. In the chapter, The Age of Unreason, he writes:

Old golfers don’t win (it’s not an absolute, it’s a general rule).
The older golfer can hit the ball as far as the younger one.
He chips and putts equally well.
And will probably have a better knowledge of the course.
So why does he take the extra stroke that denies him victory?
He knows the downside, what happens if it goes wrong, which makes him more cautious.
The young player is either ignorant or reckless to caution.
That is his edge.
It is the same with all of us.
The secret is to stay childish.

Thinking what we think and know is always safe. When we respond to ideas, situations or people out of our comfort zone, we open our minds to new possibilities. He makes the thought visual by speaking of photographing flowers. The natural thing we would do is find a beautiful flower and photograph it. Arden then takes us a step beyond: a vase with no flower; a drooping tulip, and then a perfectly dead flower. His point is that there are variations that we can choose that will differentiate us. Arden tells great leaders: “Start taking[sic] bad decisions and it will take you to a place where others only dream of being.”

Buddha wrote: “We are what we think. All that we are arises within our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world.” Henry Ford said: “Whether you think you can, or think you can’t. You’re right.” In a beautiful, more expansive note, Deepak Chopra counsels great leaders: “Instead of thinking outside the box. Get rid of the box.”

May we always remain childish in our manner of thinking, one that is free of learned constraints and limitations, and relish the joy and freedom of endless curiosity and believing that everything is possible. As Buddha said: “With our thoughts we make the world.” Choose to make your world magnificent and memorable!

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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