The State of the Brain Address

“If you’re in a bad situation, don’t worry it’ll change. If you’re in a good situation, don’t worry it’ll change.”

 

We are in the midst of one of the most unique situations that American society has ever been in, and I’m not talking the economy, as bad as is. I’m speaking to something bigger than our fluttering monetary system, something that is so big and vast that most people are unaware that it affects their behavior every single day.  I’m speaking of course to the loss of our creativity and in some cases humanity in today’s society. I understand that this statement might seem over-the-top, but I have been fortunate enough to come across numerous lectures, articles, and books that solidify this as truth.

 

I want to focus on two segments of society where the structure that we’ve created over the past generations simply will no longer suffice to have our society become successful in the future: I’m talking about our educational system and our business system. Now you might be asking, where does social intelligence come into play with all of this? Social intelligence has a lot to do with the success of our future and more importantly managing the present situation we’re in to ensure we can see ourselves through these dismal times.

 

In a previous post I showed how emotions guide our decisions, and that being aware of the process of how we make decisions and actions (feel à think à act) can make a difference in managing yourself and others. This post is similar in the hopes that I can provide you a map for where this society has been as a result of our actions and where it is going so that you, the socially intelligent, are poised for success.

 

Education: “How intelligent are you? Never mind that question, what we should be asking is “How are you intelligent?”

 

If you examine the public schooling systems of the world you will notice that there are a plethora of similarities. The reason schooling systems share a lot of the same attributes is because all of them were designed to meet the needs of the industrial revolution.  Sir Ken Robinson, leading creativity expert, focuses on this outdated educational structure through out his speeches and writings. He submits that everywhere you go there is the same hierarchical ranking of subjects: Reading, Writing, Math, Science, and then you have the step children of education music, art, and dance. The reason why school systems were invented was because they wanted people to get a decent education to get a job.  In fact people were steered away from the arts on the basis of “You’ll never get a job doing that.”

 

The smart kids were pegged as the kids who excelled at the core hierarchical subjects. However, over the years we developed an extremely narrow view of intelligence and only recently of the past decade we’re coming to realize how wrong we really were.  Ours schooling system was designed to meet the needs of the industrial revolution. There’s just one problem, there is no more industrial revolution. Never the less, we continue to drive the core hierarchical subjects while bastardizing the arts in our schools, the subjects that foster emotional learning. For that reason our schools are killing creativity. But we can change.

 

No one knows what the future is going to be like years from now, but creativity is paramount to navigating the unknown. We need to educate our children to think nimbly and flexibly so that they can take their knowledge and apply it to whatever challenge is in front of them. We need transform our educational system to foster creativity and that is done primarily through actively communicating our knowledge.  Robinson’s book examines this current situation on a more grand scale. It’ called The Element: How Finding your Passion Changes Everything. He describes the element as when your talent and skill meets your passion. It’s a great way to examine your personal goals in life and for the future.

 

Business: “During the industrial revolution machines replaced the human back, today machines are replacing the human mind.”

 

I focus on the industrial revolution because it permeates every outdated educational and operational strategy in our society.  Like education, our business structure is affected by the same loss of creativity and sometimes the loss of humanity. The reason I say there has been a loss of humanity is because if you look at the current economic crisis it has a lot to do with greed, and placing profits before people. Sadly, this is true for a lot of businesses in the world however in our economy a lot got caught with their hand in the cookie jar and are now folding and going bankrupt.

 

Where Sir Ken Robinson writes and speaks on education, Daniel H. Pink focuses on where our business structure is heading. He submits that right-brainers (creatives and emotionally attuned people) will rule the future.  His New York Times Best Selling Book, A Whole New Mind, examines the trends of abundance, Asia, and automation as the main contributing factors that are drastically changing the landscape of business in this country.  Here’s a short summary. Abundance: there are so many products and services today that competition has driven price down and all of these goods and services are relatively the same leaving creativity and design as the only differentiating factor. Asia: There are a lot of smart capable people over there that can do the same jobs as our traditional thinkers in this country such as accounting, IT, and computer programming, etc. however, they do it at a fraction of our salaries so kiss those jobs goodbye.  Automation: Computers are better than humans at crunching numbers, running programs, and nearly all things that relating to static knowledge; the only thing a computer is not good for is creative thought and design.

 

Now that was a crude summary, however you can see where the opportunity lies in our future for success amongst the creative and emotionally and socially intelligent.  Education illustrates where are society has been, Business illustrates where our society is heading and it’s up to us to get in line and hone our unique talents and intelligences to be at the forefront of this change.  Personally I have taken the lessons of these books to heart. Understand and develop your unique talents and intelligences in life and pursue your passion. So many of my friends that I went to college with got degrees in the fields they did because it was what they felt they should of done to get a good job rather than what they wanted to do. Sadly some of my friends have been let go by there former employers however through moments of clarity they’ve come to realize that it has been a blessing in disguise because they now have the opportunity to pursue their passion.

 

This changing world is our oyster.

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