SA Leadership Podcast Episode #137

How Great Leaders Think


Question Popular Thinking

“I’m not an answering machine. I’m a questioning machine. If we have all of the answers, how come we are in such a mess?” – Douglas Cardinal

Economist John Keynes stated once “The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from the old ones.” Going against popular thinking is difficult, no matter your profession. If you value popularity over good thinking then you will severely limit your potential to learn the types of thinking that we have been podcasting over the recent weeks.

Popular thinking is …….

Too average to understand the value of good thinking

Too inflexible to realize the impact of changed thinking

Too lazy to master the process o intentional thinking

Too small to see the wisdom of big-picture thinking

Too satisfied to unleash the potential of focused thinking

Too traditional to discover the joy of creative thinking

Too limiting to feel the energy of possibility thinking

Too trendy to embrace the lessons of reflective thinking’

Too shallow to question the acceptance of popular thinking

Why you should question the acceptance of popular thinking

Popular Thinking Sometimes Means Not Thinking

Good thinking is hard work. If were easy everyone would be a good thinker. It is easier to do what people are doing and hope they thought it through. When people blindly follow a trend they are not doing their own thinking.

Popular Thinking Offers False Hope

Many people look for safety and security in popular thinking. The presumption is if a lot of people are doing something, then it must be right. It must be a good idea. Remember history, it was said by Copernicus as he studied the stars that he could prove the earth was the center of the universe. Popular thinking…stated that surgical instruments did not need to be cleaned, that women did not have the right to vote, and put Nazi’s in power in Germany. Sometimes popular thinking is obvious in its flaws and other times it is less obvious. For example the American culture has bought into the idea of buy now and pay later. This has caused untold damage to people’s lives.

Popular Thinking Is Slow To Embrace Change

Popular thinking loves the status quo. It places all of its confidence in the moment and holds on to it for all that it is worth. Donald Nelson, former President of Independent Motion Picture Producers stated; “We must discard the idea that past routine, past ways of doing things, are probably the best ways. On the contrary, we must assume that there is a probably a better way to do almost everything. We must stop assuming that a thing which has never been done before probably cannot be done at all.”

Popular Thinking Brings Only Average Results

Popular=Normal=Average is really the true picture. We limit our success when we adopt popular thinking. It represents investing in the least amount of energy to just get by. You mist reject common thinking if you want to accomplish uncommon results.

How To Question The Acceptance of Popular Thinking

Think Before You Follow

The problem is that people follow almost automatically. Perhaps they desire to take the path of least resistance. Perhaps at other times there is a fear of rejection. Challenging popular thinking requires a willingness to be unpopular and go outside the norm. As you begin to think against the grain of popular thinking, remind yourself that….

Unpopular thinking, even when resulting in success is largely underrated, unrecognized, and misunderstood.

Unpopular thinking contains the seeds of vision and opportunity

Unpopular thinking is required for all progress

Appreciate Thinking Different From Your Own

One of the ways to embrace innovation and change is to learn to appreciate how others think. Spend time with people of different backgrounds, education levels, professional experiences, personal interests, etc. You will think like people whom you spend the most time. If you spend time with people who think out of the box, you’re more likely to challenge popular thinking and break new ground.

Continually Question your Own Thinking

Let’s face it, if we find a way of thinking that works, our temptations is to go back to it repeatedly, even if it does not work as well. Andy Stanley in a Catalyst Conference stated that every tradition was originally a good idea, perhaps even revolutionary. But every tradition may not be a good idea for the future.

Try New Things In New Ways

When was the last time that you did something for the first time? Do you avoid taking risks or trying new things? Unpopular thinking asks questions and seeks opinions. It is true that people are more satisfied with old problems than committed to finding new solutions. You see, how you go about doing new things is not as important as making sure you do it. Get out there and do something new today.


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Music: “Gratitude Mood” by David Arivett. You can learn more about his music by clicking on his name. THANKS DAVID!


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