“If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.”
— George S. Patton
We are all the same and we think the same. We have become a world of uniform thinkers. This is dangerous.
We all think the same. We watch the same TV shows and movies; we read the same books; we listen to the same music, and we are one world. One world that is becoming identical everywhere.
The world has become one due to globalization and new technologies like the internet. As good as we all want to think globalization is good for the world. I have some doubts.
I’ve noticed how similar people are throughout the world since I was little. When I would go to Europe and I turned on the TV, I would see the same TV shows and the same music. When I would walk on the streets, I would see people wearing the same clothes. When I would go to the U.S., it was the same thing. I couldn’t understand this.
I lived in Venezuela, and I thought, “Why are these countries copying us?” They weren’t. If anything Venezuela was copying them. That was a simple sign of globalization, which has made the world a copy-paste world. We see what works in the U.S., and we paste it in China. We see what works in Europe, and we paste it in South America, and so on.
For instance, some highways in Venezuela were interesting, so interesting that they look the same as the ones in the U.S. and Canada. At first, you would think “Well, that’s great.” Yet, there was a problem. Venezuela is a tropical country. When they built certain highways, they also included a huge gap between the roads. North American countries use that gap to get rid of the snow (see picture below). In Venezuela, there’s no snow, and that small copy-paste mistake came with a big cost, the lives of many people. Perhaps that was Venezuela’s fault.
This copy-paste world isn’t all bad. It’s helped the developing world catch up quicker.
Globalization is a great phenomenon and I hope it keeps advancing. While developing countries can copy and paste from the developed world to speed up their growth and innovation. The developed world can’t do that, and that concerns me because of the lack of new ideas. Globalization is about the spread of ideas, but not necessarily new and innovative ideas.
How can we encourage the spread of new and groundbreaking ideas?
By thinking differently.
The ability to think differently is difficult. It takes work and energy. Those who can master this ability are the ones who we remember and look up to. We aspire to be like them because they are extraordinary and unique. They are the ones who, somehow, are able to break free and come up with phenomenal ideas. They just don’t think like us.
If we all think the same, true diversity is lost. If true diversity is lost, we lose great ideas and innovation.
When I say diversity, I’m not necessarily referring to race or gender, which are both important. I’m referring to a deeper and less understood type of diversity. Diversity of thought, which is not as easy to recognize as we can’t just look at the skin color or body features.
Diversity of thought is the ability to think differently. If we are all undertaking the same activities, we are all going to think similarly. This isn’t all bad, as friction between people would decrease, and understanding among each other would increase.
However, I want to have friction and very high friction with other people, involving thoughtful discussions and disagreements. Great ideas and companies were built upon the idea of thinking differently. Sound Familiar? “Think Different” by Apple. If we all think the same, and if we all have the same perspective on the world. Progress, innovation, and development would become even more stagnant.
Diversity of thought is the manifestation of two or more positions. One person wants “red”, and the other “blue.”
Which is better?
Through a discussion composed of pros and cons, the best color would prevail. People might want “red,” but that might be early. And other people believe “blue” is the one that needs to be chosen. It is only through the confrontation of two opposing ideas and ideologies the best one arises. If everyone wants one color, there’s no space to evaluate possible disadvantages or ways to improve that specific color. That’s why it’s important to have two or more opposing views, not only the flaws are exposed but also the opportunity to improve emerges.
“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently.” That’s the quote Steve Jobs used in an ad, and it describes how different people like him are. “Some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius.” Most of us think they’re crazy, and that is because they can think differently from most people.
Is it possible to think differently from most people? Well…it’s complicated.
Let’s try to understand how we (humans) think.
I’m careful as what I read/consume will dramatically change how I think.
Our thinking process is a collection of what we read, watch, and listen. That doesn’t mean I don’t have free will. I believe I have free will, but free will can be hijacked easily, so smoothly to the point where I come to believe that my free will is the one deciding when that is not the case.
Understanding how outside sources (books, videos, relationships, etc) affect my thinking was crucial. Especially coming from an educational system that made me believe I can think for myself, independently from others.
Teachers always told me “Think for yourself,” others outrageously told me, “Research and read, and then write a paper.”
If what I’m saying is true, the books we read affect our thinking. If we all read the same books, we will all think similarly. That scares me.
I want to think differently or at least attempt to do so. Reading the same books as everyone else or reading the bestselling books is not exactly the way to do that. For instance, there’s a popular book written by a fabulous author. Atomic Habits is a book that everyone reads, brags about, likes very much. Yet, I don’t want to read that book (at least not in the near-term future) Why? I want to attempt to think differently to have unusual ideas and thoughts.
And please don’t get me wrong, James Clear’s work is impeccable. I follow him on Twitter, and I’m even subscribed to his newsletter. I’m probably missing out on interesting ideas, and perhaps I may regret it.
When I pick books, I follow my curiosity. Let’s say I want to learn about physics or philosophy. What I’d do is 1) Go to my notes and find my To Read List and try to find something there. 2) I will also look up certain books and find their reviews. Then, I find books that are both strongly loved and strongly hated. Those are usually the best books.
As with books, there are a lot of things I refuse to do such as following the popular celebrity, watching the latest TV show, listening to popular podcasts, and the list goes on and on. Ironically, I’m not the only one who seems to think this way. The famous investor and podcaster, Tim Ferris, decided to not read books published in 2020.
Some call this mindset “being a contrarian.” Am I a contrarian? I don’t know and I’m not interested in going down that rabbit hole, which becomes trite and valueless. Why am I trying to be different then? I’m not that different, but I’m interested in having a perspective that few people have.
If we all think similarly, then we would all be ONE.
Put your flags up in the sky (Put them in the sky)
And wave them side to side (Side to side)
Show the world where you’re from
(Show ’em where you’re from)
Show the world we are one
In the song “We Are One,” Pitbull and Jennifer Lopez turned out to be right. That song might have been used for the 2014 World Cup, but still holds today. The world is just one. The world has become one globalized entity. That is great. However, a factor is missing, and that is the ability to think differently. As Steve Jobs said, “You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things.” And to change things, you need to think DIFFERENTLY.
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