Achieving Original Thought

Adriel Fong
3 min readSep 23, 2020

Original thought. What is it? Do I have it? Where can I find it? How do I attain it?

Nathan Cowley

Those are just some of the questions that pop up in my head as I continue this journey as a venture builder and an entrepreneur.

Original thinking seems like a precious commodity these days. Venture capital firms seem all too willing to bet millions and billions of dollars just on an “original thought”.

So, it looked like a feasible thing to explore, at least in my mind.

It all started last week when the VB18 team “willingly” attended a webinar on e27 about “How startups can use writing to build thought leadership”. During the webinar, there was a statement that was thrown out by the host. She said that the e27 website was essentially looking to publish and share articles on their platform that conveyed “original thought”.

A couple of the venture builders began to pick up on what was said and it became a full-blown discussion among Peter and Dickson. The conversation ended with the consensus that original thought was very difficult to attain.

Internally, I wasn’t happy with the answer because I had seen in multiple people that I looked up to, traces of original thought. These people had the ability to pick up on stuff that 99% of people would not otherwise have identified. Nonetheless, the weekend approached and I let those thoughts leave me … or so I thought 😏.

The question popped up again this week in the midst of conducting market research for my own project. There was this nagging thought in the back of my head, constantly wondering if the project I was working on was the result of “original” thought.

“Surely not” ,The pessimist in me remarked.

“But I mean, no one has done anything with the idea right?” retorted the devil’s advocate.

Then I remembered something about what Jordan Peterson spoke of, about a period of time in his life where he would participate in debates and he was saying lots of things that made sense on paper and seemed logical, but for some reason he constantly felt like he didn’t believe what he was saying. It was as though he was saying things just to prove a point and win the argument. He certainly had confidence in what he said, but lacked the belief behind the words he spoke that gave him the fire to convince himself.

That was fascinating to hear because I believe we’ve all gone through a period of time in our lives where we felt that way. Where we feel like our thoughts, our actions weren’t authentically us. I know I have.

To reference Mark Twain, “The kernel, the soul, let us go further and say the substance, the bulk, the actual and valuable material of all human utterances is plagiarism.”

It made so much sense! I mean, here I was wrestling with the fact that I didn’t have any original thought, when in fact it was just an illusion. There’s no such thing as original thought. We’re all plagiarisers!

I began to realise that my mental pursuit for “original thought” was misplaced. There was no point in fixating my efforts on something that simply could not be humanly attained, but rather it would be more beneficial to strive to attain a high degree of personal authenticity with my own thoughts, to align myself and allow the right thoughts to shape who I want to be and who I want people to know me as.

Choosing to live life with fervor and purpose seems more attractive to me, to have that fire of anticipation wake you up and move you into working on a project sounds like a better deal to me.