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A Whole New Mind
“This book is a miracle. On the one hand, it provides a completely original and profound analysis of the most pressing personal and economic issue of the days ahead—how the gargantuan changes wrought by technology and globalization are going to impact the way we live and work and imagine our world. Then, Dan Pink provides an equally original and profound and practical guidebook for survival—and joy—in this topsy-turvy environment. I was moved and disturbed and exhilarated all at once. A few years ago, Peter Drucker wondered whether the modern economy would ever find its Copernicus. With this remarkable book, we just may have discovered our Copernicus for the brave new age that’s accelerating into being.”
“[Pink’s] ideas and approaches are wise, compassionate, and supportive of a variety of personal and professional endeavors. It’s a pleasant and surprisingly entertaining little trip as he explores the workings of the brain, celebrates the proliferation and democratization of Target’s designer products, and learns to draw and play games, all as a means of illustrating ways we can think and live in a better, more meaningful and productive manner. What surprised me about this book is how Pink realized that to empower individuals, it’s necessary to really understand and act upon the powerful socioeconomic forces that shape the world economy. Unlike many of the recent xenophobic screeds that rail against the evils of outsourcing, Pink has figured out several paths that individuals and society can pursue that play to our strengths. So if Pink is correct, we’re almost there. All it may take is for individuals and institutions to recognize this reality by using the tools we already possess. And that may well require A Whole New Mind.”
—The Miami Herald.
“Since Pink’s...Free Agent Nation has become a cornerstone of employee-management relations, expect just as much buzz around his latest theory.”
“A breezy, good-humored read...For those wishing to give their own creative muscles a workout, the book is full of exercises and resources.”
—Harvard Business Review
“Former White House speechwriter Daniel H. Pink, an informed and insightful commentator on social, economic, and cultural trends, has questioned the conventional wisdom from which most Americans draw their thinking on the way the world works. The author of this well-researched and delightfully well-written treatise delivers that assertion after transporting the reader through a consciousness-awakening examination of how the information age, characterized predominantly by L-Directed (left brain) Thinking is being superseded by an age of high concept and touch, which brings R-Directed (right brain) Thinking more into play. The L-Directed Thinking is particularly in evidence in the guidance he provides to readers in what to read, where to go, and what to do to learn how to more fully engage their right hemispheres.”
—Fort Worth Star-Telegram
“Will give you a new way to look at your work, your talent, your future.”
“Read this book. Even more important, give this book to your children.”
—Alan Webber, founding editor of Fast Company
“‘Abundance, Asia, and automation.’ Try saying that phrase five times quickly, because if you don’t take these words into serious consideration, there is a good chance that sooner or later your career will suffer because of one of those forces. Pink, bestselling author of Free Agent Nation and also former chief speechwriter for former vice president Al Gore, has crafted a profound read packed with an abundance of references to books, seminars, websites, and such to guide your adjustment to expanding your right brain if you plan to survive and prosper in the Western world.”
A WHOLE NEW MIND
WHY RIGHT-BRAINERS WILL RULE THE FUTURE
Daniel H. Pink
The Conceptual Age
One Right Brain Rising
Two Abundance, Asia, and Automation
Three High Concept, High Touch
The Six Senses
Introducing the Six Senses
“I have known strong minds, with imposing, undoubting, Cobbett-like manners; but I have never met a great mind of this sort. The truth is, a great mind must be androgynous.”
—SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE
The last few decades have belonged to a certain kind of person with a certain kind of mind—computer programmers who could crank code, lawyers who could craft contracts, MBAs who could crunch numbers. But the keys to the kingdom are changing hands. The future belongs to a very different kind of person with a very different kind of mind—creators and empathizers, pattern recognizers, and meaning makers. These people—artists, inventors, designers, storytellers, caregivers, consolers, big picture thinkers—will now reap society’s richest rewards and share its greatest joys.
This book describes a seismic—though as yet undetected—shift now under way in much of the advanced world. We are moving from an economy and a society built on the logical, linear, computerlike capabilities of the Information Age to an economy and a society built on the inventive, empathic, big-picture capabilities of what’s rising in its place, the Conceptual Age. A Whole New Mind is for anyone who wants to survive and thrive in this emerging world—people uneasy in their careers or dissatisfied with their lives, entrepreneurs and business leaders eager to stay ahead of the next wave, parents who want to equip their children for the future, and the legions of emotionally astute and creatively adroit people whose distinctive abilities the Information Age has often overlooked and undervalued.
In this book, you will learn the six essential aptitudes—what I call “the six senses”—on which professional success and personal satisfaction increasingly will depend. Design. Story. Symphony. Empathy. Play. Meaning. These are fundamentally human abilities that everyone can master—and helping you do that is my goal.
A CHANGE of such magnitude is complex. But the argument at the heart of this book is simple. For nearly a century, Western society in general, and American society in particular, has been dominated by a form of thinking and an approach to life that is narrowly reductive and deeply analytical. Ours has been the age of the “knowledge worker,” the well-educated manipulator of information and deployer of expertise. But that is changing. Thanks to an array of forces—material abundance that is deepening our nonmaterial yearnings, globalization that is shipping white-collar work overseas, and powerful technologies that are eliminating certain kinds of work altogether—we are entering a new age. It is an age animated by a different form of thinking and a new approach to life—one that prizes aptitudes that I call “high concept” and “high touch.”1 High concept involves the capacity to detect patterns and opportunities, to create artistic and emotional beauty, to craft a satisfying narrative, and to combine seemingly unrelated ideas into something new. High touch involves the ability to empathize with others, to understand the subtleties of human interaction, to find joy in one’s self and to elicit it in others, and to stretch beyond the quotidian in pursuit of purpose and meaning.
As it happens, there’s something that encapsulates the change I’m describing—and it’s right inside your head. Our brains are divided into two hemispheres. The left hemisphere is sequential, logical, and analytical. The right hemisphere is nonlinear, intuitive, and holistic. These distinctions have often been caricatured. And, of course, we enlist both halves of our brains for even the simplest tasks. But the well-established differences between the two hemispheres of the brain yield a powerful metaphor for interpreting our present and guiding our future. Today, 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 now require a whole new mind.
A FEW WORDS about the organization of this book. Perhaps not surprisingly, A Whole New Mind is itself high concept and high touch. Part One—the Conceptual Age—lays out the broad animating idea. Chapter 1 provides an overview of the key differences between our left and right hemispheres and explains why the structure of our brains offers such a powerful metaphor for the contours of our times. In Chapter 2, I make a resolutely hardheaded case, designed to appeal to the most left-brained among you, for why three huge social and economic forces—Abundance, Asia, and Automation—are nudging us into the Conceptual Age. Chapter 3 explains high concept and high touch and illustrates why people who master these abilities will set the tempo of modern life.
Part Two—the Six Senses—is high touch. It covers the six essential abilities you’ll need to make your way across this emerging landscape. Design. Story. Symphony. Empathy. Play. Meaning. I devote one chapter to each of these six senses, describing how it is being put to use in business and everyday life. Then, at the end of each of these chapters, marked off by shaded pages, is a Portfolio—a collection of tools, exercises, and further reading culled from my research and travels that can help you surface and sharpen that sense.
In the course of the nine chapters of this book, we’ll cover a lot of ground. We’ll visit a laughter club in Bombay, tour an inner-city American high school devoted to design, and learn how to detect an insincere smile anywhere in the world. But we need to start our journey in the brain itself—to learn how it works before we learn how to work it. So the place to begin is the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, where I’m strapped down, flat on my back, and stuffed inside a garage-size machine that is pulsing electromagnetic waves through my skull.
The Conceptual Age
RIGHT BRAIN RISING
The first thing they do is attach electrodes to my fingers to see how much I sweat. If my mind attempts deception, my perspiration will rat me out. Then they lead me to the stretcher. It’s swaddled in crinkly blue paper, the kind that rustles under your legs when you climb onto a doctor’s examination table. I lie down, the back of my head resting in the recessed portion of the stretcher. Over my face, they swing a cagelike mask similar to the one used to muzzle Hannibal Lecter. I squirm. Big mistake. A technician reaches for a roll of thick adhesive. “You can’t move,” she says. “We’re going to need to tape your head down.”
Outside this gargantuan government building, a light May rain is falling. Inside—smack in the center of a chilly room in the subbasement—I’m getting my brain scanned.
I’ve lived with my brain for forty years now, but I’ve never actually seen it. I’ve looked at drawings and images of other people’s brains. But I don’t have a clue as to what my own brain looks like or how it works. Now’s my chance.
For a while now, I’ve been wondering what direction our lives will take in these outsourced, automated, upside-down times—and I’ve begun to suspect that the clues might be found in the way the brain is organized. So I’ve volunteered to be part of the control group—what researchers call “healthy volunteers”—for a project at the National Institute of Mental Health, outside Washington, D.C. The study involves capturing images of brains at rest and at work, which means I’ll soon get to see the organ that’s been leading me around these past four decades—and, in the process, perhaps gain a clearer view of how all of us will navigate the future.
The stretcher I’m on juts from the middle of a GE Signa 3T, one of the world’s most advanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines. This $2.5 million baby uses a powerful magnetic field to generate high-quality images of the inside of the human body. It’s a huge piece of equipment, spanning nearly eight feet on each side and weighing more than 35,000 pounds.
At the center of the machine is a circular opening, about two feet in diameter. The technicians slide my stretcher through the opening and into the hollowed-out core that forms the belly of this beast. With my arms pinned by my side and the ceiling about two inches above my nose, I feel like I’ve been crammed into a torpedo tube and forgotten.
TCHKK! TCHKK! TCHKK! goes the machine. TCHKK! TCHKK! TCHKK! It sounds and feels like I’m wearing a helmet that somebody is tapping from the outside. Then I hear a vibrating ZZZHHHH! followed by silence, followed by another ZZZHHHH! and then more silence.
After a half hour, they’ve got a picture of my brain. To my slight dismay, it looks pretty much like every other brain I’ve seen in textbooks. Running down the center is a thin vertical ridge that cleaves the brain into two seemingly equal sections. This feature is so prominent that it’s the first thing a neurologist notes when he inspects the images of my oh-so-unexceptional brain. “[The] cerebral hemispheres,” he reports, “are grossly symmetric.” That is, the three-pound clump inside my skull, like the three-pound clump inside yours, is divided into two connected halves. One half is called the left hemisphere, the other the right hemisphere. The two halves look the same, but in form and function they are quite different, as the next phase of my stint as a neurological guinea pig was about to demonstrate.
That initial brain scan was like sitting for a portrait. I reclined, my brain posed, and the machine painted the picture. While science can learn a great deal from these brain portraits, a newer technique—called functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)—can capture pictures of the brain in action. Researchers ask subjects to do something inside the machine—hum a tune, listen to a joke, solve a puzzle—and then track the parts of the brain to which blood flows. What results is a picture of the brain spotted with colored blotches in the regions that were active—a satellite weather map showing where the brain clouds were gathering. This technique is revolutionizing science and me...
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