Sometimes I wonder if I read too much and reflect too little.
The reflections I do embrace often flow from some impactful reading material. But I am mindful of the possibility that these ponderings–and the blog entries that sometimes result, in a tangible sense–are not so much reflections but regurgitations of what I have read, summaries of other people's ideas that do little to advance critical thinking.
This concern emerged during a very interesting conversation I had with a colleague at a coffee house today in the Cool Springs district of Franklin, Tenn. How much time do we professionals spend simply passing others' ideas, best practices or models back and forth, recycling and regurgitating, leaving scarce space for our own critical thinking to grow more complex and flower into unique distinctions? It is the path of least resistance to do so, and it seems unfair to judge anyone–including one's self–for engaging in the practice. 
My colleague was telling me how he eschews most modern leadership and business books. He has shared this before, and I can relate for the most part; I find most non-fiction books (including spiritual growth volumes) to repackage a lot of the same ideas, and a text certainly needs a new spin on things to warrant my purchase.
But I was paying even greater attention to him this time and the proverbial wheels began turning. I inquired as to his favorite reading material, and he mentioned names such as Rene' Descartes and Aristotle. He goes straight to the source of the most classical thinking, the philosophers whose ideas countless others have built upon. Our conversation touch upon several luminaries from across the corridors of history.
And, my friend added, he also takes plenty of time to reflect on the approaches of such thinkers. And he debates the pros and cons for himself, before moving to the application phase of how he might connect it metaphorically or analogically to a key discipline or practice in our field (leadership effectiveness). He then is able to construct very creative and differentiated consulting, coaching and training material that feel fresh and powerfully relevant. In summary, my colleague builds on some very old ideas, reflects long enough to fully process and integrate them into his own perspectives, and then serves others with the product of his reflections.
All moments are key moments. But some are particularly sacred, when you feel a greater touch of clarity and inspiration. That happened today. I was wired.
Like my colleague, I've made a passion of interacting with classical thinkers, mythologies and the arts in order to present a new twist on a modern concept. However, I left our conversation inspired to go even deeper into the wisdom of history's great thinkers, many of whom I've flirted with but never seriously dated…and to embrace more discipline in reflecting and asking questions within the confines of silence.
Solomon was correct in observing that there is “nothing new under the sun,” but history is replete with countless people who have brought their creative distinctions into the conversation of ideas. It is a dialogue that never ends as long as there are human beings to participate, and the voices with the most to offer are first willing to embrace that dangerous place called silence.