Original Views

“When problem solving, take a look at the situation from different angles and perspectives. Don’t try to please me with something you think I might like. I didn’t hire you to be a rubber stamp.” I’m paraphrasing Hod, one of my former supervisors.

A group of us department heads would meet at least weekly to problem solve and brainstorm. Occasionally we’d arrive at what seemed to be smart, effective solutions to a problem under scrutiny. We’d present it to Hod for his opinions and approval. He usually told us to go back to work and analyze the scenario further, then report back to him. After another one or two additional brainstorming sessions, Hod thanked us for arriving at unique solutions.

Hod was a Navy veteran who survived the Pearl Harbor attack. He had learned how to think on his feet and had a strong distaste for “brown-nosers”. Even though the US Navy expects conformity and obedience from its sailors, the same is not always true regarding officers. Hod said that one of the most valuable lessons he learned during the attack, is the importance of remaining cool under pressure and being able to take command of how the group responds, while considering the viewpoints of his cohorts.

He brought that lesson to civilian life when he went into business as a small-town grocer. He eventually got out of the supermarket business because it didn’t suit his personality and he really wanted to work in the media. Hod believed that most of us have an unconscious urge to express our individualism and that it is unwise to stifle it in ourselves. He urged us to follow our instincts and do what needs to be done within legal and ethical bounds.

In hindsight, I judge Hod’s managerial attitude as not so much as being a boss, but as acting as a mentor. He didn’t demand work from us, he nurtured rational, independent thinking and application. As Hod frequently said, he didn’t hire us to be rubber stamps.

Isn’t it refreshing to meet and know someone who thinks for her or himself? We get the feeling that person is fully awake and is full of excellent ideas. Even though that person might be irritating at times, we know she or he has our best interests at heart. We lose respect for someone who always goes along with what we want and never contradicts us. Someone who goes along just to get along and doesn’t upset the apple cart is a minion, not a friend. Such people use flattery in order to achieve greater status and influence. They do not prioritize our interests; they are in love with manipulative techniques.

The yes men and yes women of the world are not innovative thinkers. Such people die as carbon copies, They decided to stop listening to their own original thoughts. Although Hod didn’t always agree with his employees’ points of view, he respected the original thinkers. He could instantly spot a “second-rate copy of someone else”. Meantime, “first-rate original versions” of individuals–the original thinkers–were more trustworthy and valuable in their roles as colleagues. The original thinkers contributed to the company and didn’t just show up for a paycheck.

Whether in the business world or in private life, most people rarely think for themselves–it’s too uncomfortable. It’s easier and causes less hassle to simply repeat what they hear. Such people become uneasy when they’re exposed to non-mainstream concepts and people. It’s wise to realize that there will always be people who have different views than ours. We can develop an appreciation for them and their approaches to living. We hope that, in return, they will give us the courtesy and respect for our unique approaches to life, too.

Regardless if you are in a leadership role or are independent, the ability to assimilate new information and understand life from various points of view will make life more vital. Looking at things from various perspectives helps us evolve and reinvent ourselves. From this process, we formulate original views. Although it’s tempting to go along to get along, we develop strong character through integrity. Our original thinking reveals who we really are. We become stronger and more confident during this ongoing process.


The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes polymath and statesman, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. “The most original of authors are not so because they advance what is new, but more because they know how to say something, as if it had never been said before.”

About swabby429

An eclectic guy who likes to observe the world around him and comment about those observations.
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