A couple of American OMG’s live in our neighborhood here in Paris. Every month or so, we’ll migrate to a cafe and share a coffee, huddling and communicating with the verbal shorthand and instant understanding that only fellow countrymen (and women) share.
As expatriates, this camaraderie is refreshing, as we are immersed in the French language and culture much of the time. The result is that we usually find a lot of fertile common ground for laughs, both at the expense of France and America, and for serious discussions about economics, politics, and culture.
The one mental note I made at our last sidewalk sit-down was the independent thinking by both of the people I visited with. Blind dogma and bumper sticker philosophy were nowhere to be found. Articulate, measured, and qualified opinions on current events were the order of the day. Disagreements were principled, not personal, and always prefaced by an understanding of the other person’s opinion.
Some positions that my companions had reached, either instantly or over time, were based on deliberate reflection, exhaustive research, and circumspect consideration. Other theories were bluntly shot down with a comment like, “To me, that idea just transcends common sense, so I don’t really buy it.” (Luckily for everyone present, we all agreed with the assessment–made by a candid Bostonian–so we could continue to sip our caffeinated beverages in relative harmony.)
Independent thinking is something that many Old Money Guys and Gals are frequently guilty of. The unpredictable comments can make for uncomfortable moments, and, trust me, some unforgettable memories. More often, what you get–and learn to enjoy– is the revelation: you can’t label this person. You can’t categorize them. They are relatively immune to the opinions of others. They don’t follow trends. They don’t run with the herd. They think for themselves and act accordingly.
They are often unambiguous and often completely original. And it mostly comes down to independent thinking. A respect for tradition? Sure, if it’s constructive. A respect for authority? Only if you earn it. The amount of tolerance they have for BS? You could get it in your eye and it wouldn’t hurt.
So challenge yourself to think for yourself. Be independent of the good opinion of others. Question the status quo. You’ll be glad you did.