All of us have a whole brain, the left hemisphere and the right. But how important is the thinking that comes from the right hemisphere?
The logical and precise left-brain thinking given to us by our left hemisphere gave us the information Age. Now comes the Conceptual Age, which is ruled by creativity, intuition and emotion which is presented to us by the underdog, the right hemisphere?
Scientists have long known that a neurological Mason-Dixon line cleaves our brain into two regions- the left and right hemispheres. However, recent examinations have begun to identifiy more precisely how the two sides divide responsibilities. The left hemisphere handles logic, sequence, and analysis. The right hemisphere, meanwhile, takes care of context, emotional expressions, and synthesis. Our two hemispheres work in conjunction, and we enlist both sides for practically everything we do. However, has the right brain been overlooked?
Growing up, parents always dished out a familiar plate of advice: get good grades, study hard, go to university, obtain a profession that offers a decent standard of living with a side of prestige. As a kid if you were good at maths and science, you became a doctor. If you exelled in English and history, you became a lawyer. If your communication skills needed improvement, well then you were destined to become an accountant. Until recently, the abilities that led to success in school, work and business were all characteristics of the left hemisphere, although today, those capabilities are still necessary, they are no longer enough. The right brain is seeking its revenge.
Artistry, empathy, seeing the big picture and pursuing the transcendent are the abilities that matter most in todays working society and these are now closer in spirit to the characteristics of our friend, the right brain.
The work industry is revolutionising and counting on individuals that can do less routine work- programmers who can design entire systems rather than be isolated to one program, accountants who serve as life planners rather than just dealing with figures and doctors who can revolutionise technology rather than regurgitate a procedure. The days of set rules, routines and instructions are withering away.
Computer scientist, Vernor Vinge, said “anybody with even routine skills could get a job as a programmer. That isn’t true anymore. The routine functions are increasingly being turned over to machines”. The Conceptual Age is demanding that individuals in the work force rely more on creativity than competence.
For companies, organisations and entrepreneurs it is no longer enough to create a product, a service, or an expreience that’s reasonably priced and adequatley functional, consumers are demanding more. Take electricity for example, electric lighting was rare a century ago, but now its commonplace, yet in the US, candles are a $2 billion a year business- for reasons that stretch far beyond the logical need for light to a more inchoate desire for pleausre and transcendence.
“To flourish in this Conceptual Age, we all need to supplement our well-develop high tech abilities with aptitudes that are ‘high concept’ and ‘high touch’. ‘High concept’ involves the ability to create artistic and emotional beauty, to detect patterns and opportunities, to craft a satisfying narrative, and come up with inventions the world didn’t know it was missing. ‘High touch’ involves the capacity to empathise, to undertsand human interaction, to find joy in ones self and to elicit it in others, and to stretch beyond the quotdian in pursuit of purpose and meaning”
Now I am not saying that developing these high concept, high touch abilities will be easy for everyone, because well, it won’t. For some, the prospect seems unattainable and for others a mere hurdle. If it makes you feel any better the sorts of abilities that now matter most are fundamentally human attributes, and good news, we are all human. These abilities are simply what it means to be human.
I do agree, our left brains have made us rich, rich with knowledge and competancies, however, our right brains are knocking on the door pushing us to take it one step further. What if we could take our competancies on step further? How about if we use our conmpetancies and added creativity? It is a recepie for succes in todays society. libertated by this prosperity but not fulfilled by it, more people are searching for meaning.
Adapted from A Whole New Mind: Moving from the Information Age to the Conceptual Age, copyright ? by Daniel H. Pink, to be published in March by Riverhead Books. Printed with permission of the publisher.
Contributing editor Daniel H. Pink (email@example.com) wrote about Gross National Happiness in issue 12.12.