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From The Compass: Independent Thinking

Independent Thoughts in a Loud World

“The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.”—Coco Chanel

What are independent thoughts?

Independent thoughts are self-governed thoughts, thoughts that are not subjected to the influence of others. Independent thinkers do not adopt other’s thinking “as is” but question and filter their thoughts to come to their own refreshing point of view.

How to Be an Independent Thinker

Independent thinking is rare, but it is a skill that can be developed through the following pursuits.

Increased Reading

Read a vast selection of different things. Do not just read the literature that you are drawn to. Instead, intentionally seek out articles, fiction and nonfiction, reports and news, journals and editorials from all sides of the subject matter, even from sources that you may normally avoid. Expose yourself to an array of different thoughts so that you can digest a spectrum of views and decide for yourself without the bias of your “go to” sources.

Interacting with People that Are Different to You

You can learn a lot from other people’s experiences, perspectives, and opinions. Different cultures, socioeconomic backgrounds, genders, jobs, education, and the like all offer the potential for new learning. If you only surround yourself with people that are similar to you, then you’re destined for like-minded thinking. If you want to be an independent thinker, you must listen to new perspectives.

Having Respect for Others

You may not always understand others, but respect is key to be able to consume other people’s perspective so that it can enhance your own independent thought. Respect allows people a window to take in what someone else has to offer. Without respect, you are closed off to new ideas and ways of thinking.


Being out of your comfort zone, having your eyes opened to different ways of doing things, and thinking about things will enhance independent thinking. Travel is an optimal way to experience this. It also gives you a chance to live another way of thinking, rather than just experience it in your head. The lived experience offers a more in-depth level of understanding.

Schedule Thinking Time and Journal

After exposure to different thoughts, experiences, and perspectives, it is important to give time to thinking. Journaling can help to order your thoughts, work out which are the most important or map one’s thinking. It can also help to take stock of deficiencies in thinking and help to identify where further research or a request for help may be required. Prioritizing time to think is vital for the development of independent thinking.

Independent Thinking in a Loud World

Independent thinking requires a certain amount of originality and accountability. It can also take a lot of courage to be an independent thinker. Speaking out in opposition to a large majority can make you the target of attack. Leading a conversation down a new path or trajectory can take effort, leadership, and perseverance. This is why it helps to be careful to back your independent thinking up with evidence. Evidence that supports your independent thoughts will help to deliver them to those around you, if that’s what you choose to do.

Veretis. (2022, July 25). Independent thoughts in a loud world (B. Schuette & E. Morton, Eds.). Raleigh, NC: Workplace Options (WPO).