The Art of Original Thinking
Jan Phillips
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Buy *The Art of Original Thinking: The Making of a Thought Leader* by Jan Phillips online

The Art of Original Thinking: The Making of a Thought Leader
Jan Phillips
9th Element Press
240 pages
August 2006
rated 3 of 5 possible stars
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The Art of Original Thinking by Jan Phillips, artist, photographer, journalist, world traveler, and writer, is a provocative work directed at today’s business and political power brokers and future citizens interacting through global business, economic, social, environmental, political, health, and educational systems. Key holistic, evolutionary premises of the book are:

  1. We collectively need more creative, original thinkers who can lead and make innovative changes in workplaces, organizations, and communities. Traditional leaders and business interests have been guided by a collective preoccupation with and over investment in narrowly defined, profit motives, self interests, and impersonal activities.
  2. We all have emotional, creative, and purposeful capacities to learn, change, and solve human problems. Most importantly, we all have desires to connect, inspire, and help others in need at various levels of social interaction, organization, and development.
According to the author,
“we are here to advance life, to transform every experience into an uttering that is unique, that has never been heard before, that is a clue to the others, a warning, a leading. To be an original thinker is to be a scout on new horizons, an adventurer into new domains, a perpetrator of inspiration, a leader of thought and heartfelt action.” (p. XIII)
Phillips helps release our myths by asking us to think more about how we think (e.g., our assumptions, dualistic tendencies, judgmentalness). We need to increase our mindfulness, ask the right questions, seek out opposite possibilities, and speak when concerned about issues that influence our interdependent, uncertain relations, diverse and problematic existence. On every page the author weaves together thoughtful quotations, optimistic anecdotes, and touching stories to illustrate a collaborative wisdom and altruistic perspective on what it takes to become an original thinking leader today.

At times the author makes some astounding statements along with chapter notes to support the global and singular nature of interdependent mind, emotion, body, and action from each human cell to expanding global systems of interaction. She states, “Spiritual intelligence is evolving through us as our DNA adapts to the stresses and complexities of the times. And there are choices we can make, actions we can take that actually cause our DNA strands to relax and unwind, allowing us to access deeper levels of creativity.” (p.118) She describes a variety of cutting-edge research including heart to brain communications (up to a distance of 50 feet); how increases in collective consciousness decreased national crime rates; how with verbal instruction, one can imagine and stimulate a functioning pituitary gland; and how as part of a series of laboratory researches on plants, a philodendron was able to detect the truthfulness of statements uttered in its presence by human subjects. According to the author, all of these studies are in some way related to and offered in support of the general philosophy and assumptions espoused in the book.

The Art of Original Thinking describes a litany of successful corporate businesses like American Express, Aveda, Hewlett-Packard, Sony, Ben & Jerry’s, Boeing, Corporate Systematics, Inc., Starbucks, Hyperion and so on who have integrated in-house originality training and leadership activities based, in part, on holistic principles. Ideally, if businesses would meet all societies’ demands for goods and services without destroying natural and social capital in the process, the more collaborative communication, social responsibility, and service activities would mutually generate bottom-line benefits for the people, the planet, and profit-sharing. We are the solution! I highly recommend this compact, insightful, thoughtful, and challenging paperback.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © David L. Johnson, Ph.D., 2006

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