Why Having an Opinion Isn’t the Same as Thinking

Lion Listening in Africa

Does the sheep really care that the lion doesn’t care about his opinion, and other challenges you’ve probably never considered.

I’ve been challenging some commonly held beliefs (or memes) for a while. Often this conversation is in my head. Sometimes it is with clients and their beliefs about how their industry works. (I may even talk to myself when no one is around, but I am not aware of any proof.)

I was recently reading a new book by Randy Gage called “Mad Genius: A Manifesto for Entrepreneurs.”

Part of the premise of the book is to challenge commonly held beliefs or what Randy calls critical thinking. Critical thinking is not criticizing or complaining. It is the ability to ask questions that when answered, uncover insight you can then use to generate massive success in your business or organization.

Freshly inspired by the book, I decided to look at a quote (meme) I’ve seen floating around a lot lately.

Lions don’t lose sleep over the opinions of sheep.

The rest of this article is about questions. Some are serious and some not. I’ll leave it to you to provide answers and maybe challenge your first responses.

Questions About Lions

Is the lion a metaphor for being brave or being a predator? How does that impact the meaning?

Are you a lion? Does that make everyone else sheep?

If we follow this advice can we all be lions? Do we need sheep for contrast?

Lions don’t just ignore the opinions of sheep; they eat them. How does this translate to people?

Is it easier to be brave when nothing is trying to eat you?

Lions eat meat, what happens to the lion if a vegetarian tries to convert it into a sheep?

Do you care about what the other lions think?

What if the other lions don’t like your ideas or business plans?

◊♦◊

Questions About Sheep

Where did the first sheep originate?

Who tries to raise sheep near lions? Why?

Shouldn’t it be lions don’t care about the opinions of the gazelle? Or the wildebeest?

Where does the shepherd fit into this metaphor?

What about those brilliant herding dogs that do all the hard work?

Do sheep have opinions?

How do we know what lions really think about sheep?

Flock of Sheep

Questions About People

From the definition of flock:

“A group of people under the leadership of one person, especially the members of a church.”

Does being part of a flock make you a sheep?

Why are there no sheeps?

Is a middle manager a lion in training or the head sheep?

If a lion doesn’t care about the feelings and opinions of others, does this make it a narcissist?

What if you are running for president and treat people as sheep, does that make you a lion?

If those politicians are lions, why do they care so much about what everything thinks about them?

Could they be sheep in lion’s clothing and afraid the world might find out?

Do you think of your customers as sheep? How does that impact your ability to get market feedback?

Are there really two classes of people (lions and sheep): those who take and those who get fleeced?

Are people a mix of both lion and sheep?

◊♦◊

Questions About Culture

What happens when the sheep get together and overthrow the lion?

Do people in democracies realize they have the power to do this at any time?

If sheep buy guns, does that make them lions?

Lions often get hurt hunting. When this happens, they can die. Do the sheep care?

How do black sheep fit in?

Can you be a lion about some things and sheepish at other times?

If you are watching a show everyone else is watching, can you still be a lion? What if it is the Game of Thrones?

If you are a lion, should you worry about dragons?

If you have to follow orders are you a lion or sheep?

If warriors are like lions, why do the world’s leaders treat the military like sheep?

How can you make your clients and customers feel like lions?

What if you are the most dominant lion in the region, and some dude lures you out of your home and kills you for sport?

Is it individual or group pride that makes lions so aloof from opinion?

Why is the accompanying picture with the quote always of the male lion when the females do most of the hunting?

What if we invent Artificial Intelligence (AI), and it decides we are the sheep? Why would AI need sheep?

If AI is real, should we drop the artificial part?

What if the quote has auto-correct applied and the lions ignore the onions of sheep?

Does anyone care about what the lion says or is it more about the lion does?

Eventually, lions will lose and die. Is being the lone dominant male lion really so great?

If I ignore the opinions of sheep, will I miss some good ideas or useful feedback?

Do lions ignore opinions they don’t like or all opinions?

Are sex and food the only motivators for a male lion?

Are lions and sheep a good metaphor for groups of people?

Questions for You

Of course, maybe I am just over thinking this. What do you think? Leave a comment.

I was pretending to care. I don’t really.

How does that make you feel?

We could do this all day.

Today I am a lion and your opinion doesn’t matter.

Then again, maybe caring too much about what others think is bad, but caring enough to be a contributing part of humanity is good?

Maybe I should care after all.


This post originally appeared on The Good Men Project.

Photo Credits (Modified): Top – Flickr/ Anita Ritenour and Middle – Flickr/ Peter Eckersley

By | 2017-04-03T11:12:09+00:00 March 14th, 2016|Categories: Books and Courses, Doug's Blog, Leadership, The Good Men Project|

About the Author:

Doug Wagner is an entrepreneur, President and Co-founder of Sunwapta Solutions. Sunwapta’s mission is to help businesses transform from surviving to thriving, sustainable growth. From strategy to implementation, this means marketing, sales, managing your brand and delivering consistent value. Get more clients and keep them.