How many people that you've known personally have had a significant impact on you as a thinker?
For me, two women have been critical in my growth as a thinker. One is my partner of forty three years. The other I lost this past week. Although I know it will be hard doing so, I've spent several days trying to measure the impact this fearless woman had on me during the years we worked together. I'll miss her in many ways, although selfishly, I'll miss most the way she guided, prodded, and challenged me. She was my mentor for eleven years.
Peter Senge, Fernando Flores, Thomas Kuhn. Many of the thinkers my mentor introduced me to are not household names. That's totally fitting because - in the intellectual domain - she was not seduced by the trendy, the popular, the flavor of the month. Yet, she loved Seinfeld, Night and Day was one of her favorite songs and we argued for days on our differing views of Silence of the Lambs; she was as geeky about popular film as I. Contradictions like those - independent thinking vs. an unabashed love of popular culture - thrilled her.
Live in the question. Avoid people who are certain. Allow yourself to be persuaded. Most of all, grow into someone who doesn't need the approval of others. All words I've tried to live by since 1991, when I was fortunate enough to meet my compassionate critic, my intellectual companion, my friend.