In the new documentary series “Pretty Baby” actress and model Brooke Shields described her quest to discover her own voice after years of conforming to what others asked her to do and say. While studying at Princeton University, one of Brooke’s professors asked her to craft a hypothesis – an assumption, an idea that is proposed for the sake of argument so that it can be tested to see if it might be true. She recalled being challenged to come up with one unique to her. Her professor noted that he often saw her underlining passages in her textbooks. He gave her an assignment: Go back and pull the highlighted sections and get into discussion with others on those points. That discipline, he said, will help you discover your own point of view. She learned to have faith in her own hypotheses.
I underline and highlight often but don’t always go back and dig deeper on what struck me about that line or argument. I tried it yesterday and spotted this underlined sentence in a book I was reading, “Growth creates complexity, and complexity is the silent killer of growth.” I called a colleague, and we spent 30 minutes talking about the nuances of that paradoxical statement. The conversation helped me sharpen my own perspective and gave me new things to ponder.
This is a great discipline to ensure that what you are learning is fleshed out to give it more substance and relevance. What did you highlight today?