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Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2008 04:46 am

‘Thought leader’ offers seminars here

You don't have to go along with the crowd

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The Art of Original Thinking: The Making of a Thought Leader by Jan Phillips, 9th Element Press, 2006, 225 pages, $24.95.

Sometimes the evening news reminds me of a decades-old school incident when My Group was unkind to Their Group, to put it mildly. I have excuses about immaturity and adolescent angst, but the truth is, I went along with the crowd. I did not think for myself. I saw only Us and Them. The evening news reports the same behavior worldwide. By the second commercial I'm feeling insignificant and powerless so I turn off the TV and read a book.

By the time I close the cover on The Art of Original Thinking: the Making of a Thought Leader, I feel hopeful. Jan Phillips has written a do-it-yourself manual for saving the world, addressing its grievous problems and achieving wholeness. It's refreshing that the book doesn't include politics or heads of state. She presents an impressive array of stories—people, organizations and corporations who are already creating a better world. Her purpose, in this book and in her life, is to awaken our purpose. Our purpose is to advance life and we do that through thought leadership. She believes (and I agree) that we are taught what to think instead of how to think.

Original thinking is the Swiss Army knife in the thought leader's toolbox. Phillips invites us to question our assumptions, practice awareness and rid ourselves of illusions. Once our values are clarified, she directs us outward toward the world's needs. "We don't need to conjure up evidence about who is wrong and who is right. We need to take a look at what needs fixing and get out our tool kits." The thought leader focuses on giving rather that getting and is often rewarded financially for the effort. We can turn a profit and still be good global citizens.

You'll learn a lot about this from the dozens of stories in this book, such as the one about the company that decided that its highest salary couldn't be more than two times the lowest. These are real-life vignettes that illustrate original thinking and its use in creating good. This is no purely academic read. When you arrive at the end, you will appreciate your own potential. This "acorn of our being" is in each of us. I can save the world. You can. We can.

Jan Phillips, San Diego author and thought leader, will be speaking in Springfield at the Chiara Center, 4875 Laverna Road. There are two opportunities to hear her: a seminar on Thursday, Sept. 4, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. and a retreat Friday, Sept. 5, 6-9 p.m. through Saturday, Sept. 6, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. For more information or to register, go to www.CreatingaNewWorldNow.org or call 217-787-0481 ext. 5108. On Sunday, Sept. 7, Jan will conduct a workshop from noon-4pm at Unity Church in Springfield. See Unity's Website for details, www.unityofspringfield.com

Kitty Wrigley, of Springfield, is director of the Health Sciences Library at St. John's Hospital. She serves on the committee that is bringing Jan Phillips to Springfield

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