I’ve reviewed a few books that ask us to look at the changing world and how we—how you, who are just deciding on your life’s path—will live and work in it. A Whole New Mind reminds me of those other books (The World is Flat; Hot, Flat, and Crowded) in the sense that it declares that people—again, you who are coming into adulthood—are entering a world of work that is utterly different from that experienced by your parents. It warns that what your parents and teachers have told you about the world of work (“Be an accountant! A lawyer! A computer programmer!”) is probably wrong.
I know this can be scary. But books like A Whole New Mind present it as a great opportunity because you will be freed from the linear thinking that traditional jobs require, and you’ll have the chance to be creative, empathetic—perhaps an artist, a storyteller, a designer, or one of many other possibilities. It’s not that some of those traditional jobs won’t exist; but even now they are being outsourced to other countries where workers earn a far lower wage than that paid in the United States.
Thought the subtitle of this book is Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future, the book really is about using your whole brain—marrying your left-brain logic and analysis to your right-brain holistic and intuitive functions.
What is different about A Whole New Mind, and the reason you’ll want to read it even if you’ve already covered the ‘flat world’ books is that the author details six essential aptitudes on which professional and personal achievement depend: Design, Story, Symphony, Empathy, Play and Meaning. If it’s hard to imagine why these matter, consider one of the examples from the book: patients in a well-designed hospital ward need less pain medication and are released an average of two days earlier, creating not only pleasure, but vast savings for insurers and hospitals, and for the patients themselves.
Happily, Pink includes some great ideas on how to foster each of these aptitudes (and includes web links to products, companies and organizations) following the chapters that explain them.
It’s likely that your English teacher has talked to you about the hero’s journey that is the story of all myth and literature: the hero is called to do something and refuses at first. S/he then crosses the threshold into a new world, faces incredible challenges and has to face the abyss. But s/he gets some help along the way—a knowledgeable mentor gives him or her a divine gift, Here the hero achieves his new self and returns to improve his homeland. According to Pink, all of us are on this hero’s journey. We must answer the call to this transformed world by living and working in a new way; we must cross the threshold to the Conceptual Age, master the difficulties of right-brain aptitudes and return as people inhabiting the whole mind—both worlds, left and right.
Try Daniel Pink as your mentor on this incredible journey.