A Whole New Mind: A Book Review

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I’m a “right-brainer”. In the language of Myers-Brigg’s typology, I am an extreme INFP, an introverted feeling type (heart vs. head), with strong leanings towards intuition (vs. sensing), and perceiving (vs. judgment). As an “intuitive”, I make all sorts of connections, linking ideas, and often jumping from one thought to another. Trying to keep up with me in conversation, people sometimes say that I am “all over the place.”   This typology has not always served me well in my career, particularly since I spent most of it in the midst of “left-brain” engineers who are logical, analytical, and decisive. It sometimes seemed we spoke different languages; and though I could understand theirs, they couldn’t understand mine. Consequently, in that environment, my contributions were often derided and dismissed as “warm and fuzzy” or “airy-fairy.”   Well, finally there is a respectful name for the all-over-the-place way I think.  I am a "Cultural Creative".   And, not only is there a place in today’s advanced world for the way my mind works; according to Pink, there is a need for more of it! Thank you, Daniel H. Pink!

In his book, A Whole New Mind, Pink tells of a shift from the “left-brain” thinking of the “Information Age”, to a future that belongs to those of us with a very different kind of mind: creators and empathizers, pattern recognizers, and meaning makers, artists, inventors, designers, storytellers, caregivers, consolers, and big picture thinkers.   Of course that does not mean there is no further use for the skills or capabilities of the “left brain”. Rather, Pink says,
“…the defining skills of the previous era – the “left brain” capabilities that powered the Information age – are necessary but no longer sufficient.  And the capabilities we once disdained or thought frivolous – the “right-brain” qualities of inventiveness, empathy, joyfulness, and meaning – increasingly will determine who flourishes and who flounders.  For individuals, families, and organizations, professional success and personal fulfillment no require a whole new mind.”
The rules have changed, says Pink. A master of fine arts, an MFA, is the new MBA. As evidence, he cites Robert Lutz, the man hired by General Motors to help turn around the ailing automaker. Asked by the New York Times how his approach would differ from what had been done before, Lutz replied, “It’s more right brain…I see us being in the art business. Art, entertainment and mobile sculpture, which, coincidentally, also happens to provide transportation.”
Pink outlines what he asserts are the six essential aptitudes – “the six senses” – which will guide our lives, shape our world, and on which professional success and personal satisfaction will increasingly depend:
1. Not just function but also DESIGN. “Today It’s economically crucial and personally rewarding to create something that is also beautiful, whimsical, or emotionally engaging.”
2. Not just argument but also STORY. “The essence of persuasion, communication, and self-understanding has become the ability also to fashion a compelling narrative.”
3. Not just focus but also SYMPHONY. “What’s in greatest demand today isn’t analysis but synthesis – seeing the big picture, crossing boundaries, and being able to combine disparate pieces into an arresting new whole.”
4. Not just logic but also EMPATHY. “What will distinguish those who thrive will be their ability to understand what makes their fellow woman or man tick, to forge relationships, and to care for others.”
5. Not just seriousness but also PLAY. “(T)oo much sobriety can be bad for your career and worse for your general well-being. In the Conceptual Age, in work and in life, we all need to play.”
6. Not just accumulation but also MEANING. Living in a world of “breathtaking material plenty…has freed hundreds of millions of people from day-to-day struggles and liberated us to pursue more significant desires: purpose, transcendence, and spiritual fulfillment.”
Pink provides plenty of evidence of this shift – persuasive even to those who are L-Directed - as it is manifesting throughout our economy and our society. He then spends much of the remainder of the book exploring how to develop these six essential aptitudes, with a Portfolio for each, rich with tools and resources. In fact, this is a book written to appeal to both L-Directed and R-Directed readers. It is well researched, but very readable, incorporating all six of these essential aptitudes. It is chock full of examples, anecdotes, and humour. And it is well edited (designed), and illustrated, with lots of experiential tidbits and options for further action.
Well, I abandoned the world of engineers some years ago and, since then, have been very much following my own natural inclinations, which also happen to be my bliss!   So you can imagine my delight to discover, in reading Pink’s book, that where I am right now is exactly where I should be.  At last, my time has come!  To see what I mean, explore my website at http://www.c-change.info
So, can we help you to develop your six senses?