What makes a great thinker?

In an online article published on Virgin, Richard Branson expounds on his belief that despite the variety of minds with focuses on science, religion, creativity and technology, the classic concept of “great minds think alike” holds true because of very similar qualities that all of the above mentioned minds have.

After all, progress in the world is not possible without people looking for the newest improvement in the world without taking their mind somewhere others may not have gone before – otherwise you can’t help improve life on Earth. Branson is one who probably has benefitted from utilizing the different parts of his brain in everything he does; which has led to helping establish an empire that has created jobs and provided a new way of life for others across the globe.

Being a great learner

Obviously a great mind should be able to continue learning beyond high school and collegiate studies. There will always be opportunities to learn something new every day and a big part of that is creating strategies and plans which address specific challenges directly with a large impact.

In addition to being open to learning new aspects to life around you, another big key is to be just as good at listening as you are at speaking. Branson referred to legendary speakers Martin Luther King, Jr., and Nelson Mandela as men whose powerful oratory was only made possible by their ability to listen to, and empathize with, people experiencing great upheaval and change. Their ability to feel the pain of others helped them be more considerate of how their actions affected the world while creating new concepts to benefit mankind.

Becoming a great learner in today’s day and age requires fostering a growing mindset that will likely evolve over time and include trying different things, developing resiliency and continuously reading about new ideas and concepts. Another way is to always ask questions because learning requires participation and helps a thinker understand the details of something that is impacting the world we live in.

One of the most important keys to learning is always practicing because there’s no way to truly understand something new unless you test it out over and over again. Sometimes people are better with hands on learning rather than sitting in on a series of lectures where someone talks for one or two hours at a time non-stop.

Think differently than most

Branson wrote that this doesn’t mean just thinking outside of the box, but without any limitations in your mindset and utilizing your imagination to come up with unique and interesting ideas to create something impactful. This requires a belief that nothing in life is necessarily set in stone; anything can be altered at any time.

Branson notes that challenging the status quo helps the world progress. People like Martin Luther King, Jr., challenged the way people treated and perceived African-Americans and eventually helped pioneer the Civil Rights Movement that helped lead to better equality among all people in the United States over the past few decades.

The potential is limitless when the mind is void of any restrictions in creating new ideas, and maybe you’ll get lucky in developing a new source of fuel or a new way of transportation that can cut down carbon emissions and the large number of traffic jams since less vehicles are on the roads and interstates.

With only so much time in life on this planet, why should we limit what is possible and restrict the ways we consider ideas? That way when you are entering your final years, you can at least say you kept an open-mind to help find unique and new ways to help make the world for your children, grandchildren and other future generations to enjoy when you have moved on from the physical world.

Having humanity

This goes hand-in-hand with the types of thought processes of those who fought for Civil Rights in their communities and the desire to impact humanity for the better in the world, which has helped spark some of the best innovations that have benefitted mankind. This means not speaking, creating or acting with only their own interest in mind – helping the world become a better place means having to find positive changes that benefit a broader spectrum of people.

Everyone from human rights advocates to even the most successful businesses can agree that humanity has played a huge factor in their successes – at least in some way or another. It has been a key attribute to the scientific findings of Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking, while also providing the key component in sharing economy across the different parts of the globe.

Sometimes, humanity is what helps people find new solutions to support each other and, in return, will help themselves knowing they have been able to make life easier for them and others around them. This may lead to creating new ways to protect crops without damaging chemicals in pesticides – a very controversial topic among people.


Other ways to become a great thinker in the world includes tapping into your emotions and listen to subtle hints from your subconscious inside your brain. At the same time, thinking without pressure allows for a clear mind that is opened to discovering new concepts and ideas, as well as challenging the established preferences and beliefs that have been formed based on how you were raised by your family members.

But the best way is to always think, even daydream, and to keep the mind active with a variety of topics, issues and concerns that are plaguing your local community and maybe even the world. One great way to think is to study mistakes in life so that you can take the lessons from why something went wrong and how you can implement that lesson into future events and situations you may have to encounter down the road.

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