Today is World Philosophy Day, and thinkers all over the globe are celebrating big questions and the very important conversations that spring from them. Philosophy has a reputation for being abstract, academic, and far removed from the ins and outs of daily life. But it’s 2020, and the past eight months have served as a catalyst for businesses and organizations to re-evaluate a lot of what they previously took for granted.
Today, we’d like to encourage anyone who’s ever thought that philosophy wasn’t for them to take another look, with fresh eyes. If ever there was a time to look reconsider the value of philosophical thinking, and its potential place in our businesses and organizations, it’s now.
At its core, philosophy is the practice of asking big questions, many of which begin with “Why”, and most of which don’t have one clear answer. Philosophers wonder about themselves, about their relationship to others, and about they way they fit into the world around them. Philosophy is also about thinking clearly and rationally, being open-minded, but still discerning about which ideas we accept.
So, what does philosophy have to do with running a business or an organization? What can being philosophical do to help, in a time of great uncertainty like this, and in the future?
1. "Soft" Skills
All of those “soft skills” that people are wishing they had right about now are baked right into philosophical practice. Critical thinking, communication, problem solving, and even social-emotional learning can be sharpened by it.
2. Asking the WHY
Current circumstances are requiring all kinds of businesses and organizations to re-examine their “Why”. Why do we operate the way we do? Why do we have this or that particular mission, vision, or set of values? Why do we see co-workers and clients the way we do? Being philosophical means constantly being aware of why, and revisiting it it often. It carries with it a sense of being accountable for our reasoning, and it keeps us honest when we fall into doing things “just because”.
Philosophy is meant to be inclusive. It’s built on the notion that we need consider a diverse range of voices and ideas. It’s against the rules to dismiss something or someone “just because” (see #2). Fresh ideas are in high demand right now, and philosophy provides a safe space for them to be introduced, explored, improved upon and implemented.
4. Real-World Applications
Philosophy has real-world applications. Lots of them. Bring up any industry or any issue, and it’s almost guaranteed that it can be examined in a philosophical light, and that someone, somewhere has asked big questions about it. Want to talk about leadership? Need to come to terms with all of the change happening around us? Time to explore what equality means in the workplace? It’s been done, and is still being done. Philosophy has thousands of years from which to draw inspiration and wisdom.
It’s never too early or too late to get philosophical. Although it does require practice, you don’t have to have read all the great thinkers, or had a lot of previous experience in order to contribute to a conversation. Our sister company, Red T Media, has been teaching children ages 5-12 to embrace their inner philosopher for almost a decade. If a kindergartener can learn to think philosophically, there’s no reason why a CEO or any of their team can’t as well.
6. Team Building
Philosophical discussion brings people together, and enhances company culture. Sharing ideas and problem solving together is an amazing team-building activity, and a chance to learn more about the talented minds you have working for you.
Times of great uncertainty and change are challenging, but they also give us incredible opportunities to try new (or in this case, very old) approaches. There’s no better time than now to engage your team members’ inner philosophers!
Happy World Philosophy Day, everyone!
Mildred Builds A World
Don't miss out on RedT's brand-new children's book: Mildred Builds a World. Written by Enable Education's Co-Founder and author of this article, Amy Leask.