A few weeks ago, I was interviewing Adam Markel. Markel suggested one of the issues within society is that as children we are trained to be "Good followers not good leaders".

Before we are even born, our parents biases and beliefs are downloaded to us. We become indoctrinated by the influential people in our life such as our family, friends, teachers, coaches and religious leaders. We tend to fall into the trap of obeying others rather than questioning and thinking for ourselves.

It was at this moment, that I recognized these very words hit a nerve so I explored the subject further. 

What Is Independent Thinking?

According to the  University of Alabama: "Independent thinking is the process of making sense of the world based on your own observations and experiences rather than depending on the word of others".

Independent thinking relates to the way we source and apply information. It is your ability to take action as opposed to reacting or rejecting someone else's views.

Five Sure-Fire Ways To Think More Independently 

1. Travel The World

Traveling the world immediately moves us out of our comfort zone and gives us a greater appreciation for our own country. It expands our horizons and opens our eyes to new ways of living, traditions, new people, environments and activities we may have never encountered in our home country.

My most memorable experiences involved traveling to Europe and the United States. Sadly, I have witnessed the negative impact of people who choose to remain in the same place their entire life. These people retain a narrow view on society in general, which minimizes their perceived options for living life.

2. Exploration

Exploration involves constantly doing new things leading to the discovery of new talents and skills.

As humans, we tend to seek more of the same - operating on auto-pilot. Watching the same type of films, attending certain concerts, reading particular books and talking to like-minded people. Doing the same activities limits your possibilities in life. 

When you learn new topics and engage in new activities you learn more about yourself, others and the world which leads to new insights and expands your current level of thinking.

There are a million opportunities in the world yet when we limit ourselves, we miss out on what could be some of the best time of our lives.

A few years ago I could never have foreseen what lie ahead. If I had not ventured out to do different things, I certainly would not be working as a writer, written sixty songs or produced a short film.

3. Walk The Other Way

As Warren Buffet explains: "Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful". Whilst Buffett's quote applies to investing, it also relates to life. 

Take action based on what is right for you rather than simply following the crowd.

Entrepreneurs understand this path well. For they do not blindly follow the crowd working as an employee for a pay check, they carve out their own path. One of the top reasons cited by entrepreneurs for starting their own business is having the ability to make their own decisions.

4. Become An Interrogator

Ask any parent and they will tell you how brilliant their child is at asking questions about everything or anything. 

People love to talk about themselves and their experiences and when you show genuine interest and listen to their stories, you learn an incredible amount of information that can challenge your own values, beliefs and views on life.

I believe that being curious keeps life interesting with every day delivering another reason to smile, another lesson to learn, another reason to be grateful and another new fact to uncover. 

As a writer, I find people fascinating and therefore I am a very curious person which serves me well as I have become excellent at questioning everything. 

5. Fall In Love With Challenges

I am certain most people don't love being challenged on their values and beliefs.

It does offer benefits in that we discover so much more about ourselves and others when we engage in these conversations. If you hang around with people that simply tell you want you want to hear, you are eliminating the amount of growth you experience.

About a year ago, I was speaking with a service provider for the first time who decided to tell me the brutal truth about my business, logo and website. It was unexpected as he expressed his opinions in an aggressive manner.

I was completely shocked by both his honesty and aggression. After giving his feedback some thought, I understood his perspective and as a result scrapped absolutely everything and started again.

This was the greatest blessing which was exceptionally helpful in crafting new thoughts and ideas for my journey ahead.

The World Needs You

We have enough followers, the world needs you to step up and out on to the stage.

Become an independent thinker and a leader in your own life. Inspire others to explore the world, challenge their views, be curious, experience massive growth, and discover new possibilities to live life to the fullest. 

Published on: Apr 28, 2016
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.