Are you an independent thinker? 9 signs of a truly original mind

In the history of human thinking, originality always finds a way of standing out. 

We’ve all had moments when our brains, like curious kids, break free from the usual way of thinking to explore new ideas and approaches.

We’ve felt the excitement of tackling problems from new perspectives, the joy of understanding others deeply, and the courage to take risks into uncharted territory. 

Originality is something that adds richness and new depths to our lives. 

In this article, we’ll dive into the signs of a truly original mind, and take a look at some of history’s most original thinkers along the way. Let’s get into it.

1) Unconventional methods of thinking

Unconventional thinking is the cornerstone of originality. It’s the art of questioning what everyone else takes for granted, you know, the knack for zigging when the world zags. 

Original thinkers don’t just color inside the lines — they create new pictures entirely.

Take the example of Albert Einstein. His thought experiments led him to unravel the mysteries of the universe, where time twisted and space curved in ways no one had ever imagined before him.

He once said in 1955: “The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day.”

This guiding principle, to question the fabric of reality, led Einstein to reshape the very fundamental tenets of physics.

Unconventional thinkers dare to challenge already established norms, armed with curiosity and a thirst for novelty. 

They’re the people who see a world not as it is, but as it might be.

2) An innate curiosity for the world around you

Just as Einstein said, curiosity is the most important thing. 

At the heart of every original mind lies an insatiable curiosity, a thirst for knowledge, and a keen desire for exploration.

This curiosity is not confined to a single subject. Take, for instance, Leonardo da Vinci.

Da Vinci was the ultimate Renaissance man. His notebooks brimmed with sketches and ideas ranging from anatomy to engineering to art.

He embodied the spirit of curiosity, transcending disciplines and delving into the mysteries of human existence.

He’s an incredible example of how curiosity ignites the imagination, leading to uncharted territories of thought.

It propels us to go deeper — to question, to explore, and to unearth the gems of innovation hidden beneath the surface.

3) A habit of taking risks

Originality is often born on the edge of uncertainty. 

It thrives in the willingness to take risks — to leap into the unknown armed with a belief in your ideas.

Consider Elon Musk, a modern-day innovator. 

Musk took the huge risk of founding SpaceX, a private space exploration company, when the odds seemed to be stacked against him.

His bold step revolutionized the space industry and set the stage for a new era of space exploration.

Risk-taking is the secret sauce that helps original thinkers go beyond what’s already been done before.

4) Adaptability and versatility (particularly when it comes to change)

The truly original mind adapts very well, embracing newness, and shifting gears when necessary.

Marie Curie serves as an incredible example of adaptability. 

Her pioneering work in radioactivity not only reshaped our understanding of matter, it marked a shift from the conventional roles of women in society.

Curie adapted, challenged, and ultimately triumphed against the barriers of her time. And trust me, it would not have been easy.

Adaptability keeps the original mind nimble, allowing it to change course when needed, and to thrive in the face of change.

It’s the key to innovation in a dynamic world.

5) A deep sense of empathy

pic1300 Are you an independent thinker? 9 signs of a truly original mind

This particular sign might often go overlooked, but this one’s a big one. 

In the patchwork quilt of originality, empathy is the stitch keeping it all woven together. 

The ability to understand, share, and resonate with the experiences and emotions of others is a powerful source of inspiration.

Martin Luther King Jr. embodied this empathy in his pursuit of civil rights in America.

This was a man who understood the pain and injustice faced by marginalized communities and used his empathy to create real, meaningful change, ensuring a legacy that continues to inspire people to this very day.

Empathy allows original minds to join the dots between seemingly unrelated ideas, forging bridges between disparate worlds.

6) An ability to approach problem-solving from unique angles

Originality thrives when problems are viewed through an unconventional lens. 

It’s the knack for keeping off the beaten path, looking for new shortcuts, and discovering uncharted territories of thought.

Enter Srinivasa Ramanujan, a math genius who hailed from a modest background in India. 

His unconventional approach to math led him to discover many new theories and formulas, changing the course of mathematical history.

Approaching problems from new angles often brings about new and exciting solutions, enriching human knowledge with fresh perspectives.

7) High levels of creativity

Creativity is the crown jewel of originality. 

It’s the ability to craft something new, whether it’s a piece of art, scientific theory, or a novel invention

Take, for example, Wes Anderson, the quirky filmmaker. 

There’s no doubt you’ve watched one of his films, whether it’s The Darjeeling Limited or Fantastic Mr. Fox.

His unique storytelling techniques and distinctive style have left a significant mark on the film industry.

Anderson is a testament to creativity and originality, showing that sometimes, you’ve got to go your own way to truly make your mark.

8) The ability to embrace interdisciplinary thinking

Original minds often wander from discipline to discipline, connecting dots where others might see blank spaces.

They tend to draw inspiration from unlikely places and blend ideas from different fields to create something new and different.

Buckminster Fuller, the American architect and inventor, is a great example of an interdisciplinary thinker.

Fuller borrowed principles from architecture, engineering, and mathematics to create the iconic geodesic dome — a structure that truly defies conventional boundaries to this day.

Interdisciplinary strategies allow original minds to transcend the limitations of siloed thinking, welcoming in a world of innovative possibilities.

9) A playful streak

Here’s one that many people tend to skip over as a sign of a truly original mind.

Playfulness is a hallmark of an original mind because it embodies a blend of creativity, curiosity, and unconventional thinking.

Playfulness helps individuals to approach problems and situations with a sense of wonder and experimentation, unburdened by the constraints of societal convention.

Being playful often leads to people exploring different perspectives, possibilities, and solutions. 

It frees the mind from old, stale patterns and encourages the creation of new connections between unrelated concepts.

Playfulness also enables people to approach learning with enthusiasm and a sense of adventure, making them more likely to discover new insights and have breakthroughs.

To sum things up, in the history of human thought, originality is key to progress and innovation. 

The signs of a truly original mind, from unconventional thinking to a wide range of creative ideas, are not just attributes but pathways to discovering the limitless potential of your own imagination. 

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Picture of Tina Fey

Tina Fey

I've ridden the rails, gone off track and lost my train of thought. I'm writing for Ideapod to try and find it again. Hope you enjoy the journey with me.

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