It has already been 9 years since Howard Gardner wrote “5 Minds for the Future.” As I reviewed this book recently, I found it to incredibly valuable in becoming that disruptive leader with a futuristic mindset.
As we look to leverage our leadership power in the futuristic world of rapid and radical change, we must think bigger and reach higher. Thriving in this new world requires a different mindset than the old Industrial World.
1. The Disciplined Mind
In a world of rapid and radical change, it is easy to relax the discipline and focus on quick application. That would be a mistake.
Gardner addressed the need to develop a “mode of cognition that characterizes a specific scholarly discipline, craft or profession. . . The disciplined mind also knows how to work steadily over time to improve skill and understanding. . . Without at least one discipline under his belt, the individual is destined to march to someone else’s tune.”
A discipline is a well-developed way of thinking. For a moment, think academic where the individual acquires knowledge and applies it consistently, creating a default understanding of that perspective. Science, History, Communication, Religion and the Arts all see the world differently. Having one as a discipline is not just having the ability to answer Jeopardy answers correctly but rather commands the ability to reason within the principles of that discipline. That is why academics require a certain amount of credits for a major or a minor. IT takes time to develop a discipline (10,000 hours according to some.)
I studied Communication Studies at the Bachelor’s, Master’s and PhD level. That discipline is not just a lot of knowledge but a foundation from which I build my world view. Communication is negotiating shared meaning, not just getting your message across as other disciplines success. In any analysis, that is my immediate perspective. However, I added another discipline later in studying leadership where I focus on how individuals innovate based on their default approach to power. Each discipline gives me tremendous insight into interpretation and innovation.
Going forward, rapid and radical change will demand at least one discipline to lead successfully. The abundant information demands that we understand the core principles so we can understand the diverse world we live in and innovate to solve diverse problems.
- What is your discipline?
- Do you have more than one discipline?
- How will that give you an unfair advantage?
2. The Synthesizing Mind
Fusion thinking is critical in the Sharing Economy of the future. That means the synthesizing mind is more relevant than ever. To create new and valuable solutions to problems we have never seen before, we will need to combine previously divergent disciplines.
Fusion cooking is so popular because it is far more than throwing together very different foods. Instead, it demands a synthesizing mind to appreciate the tastes, cultures and history of the cooking to create a menu people will love. It is rich and eclectic in a good way, more like a great piece of modern art than a junk drawer.
To thrive in the future, we must have the ability to combine very divergent items, knowledge and ways of thinking.
- How can you synthesize very different ideas in your world?
3. The Creating Mind
Notice that Apple synthesized a phone, music player, camera and calendar into one devise called the iPhone. That is what happens when someone has more than one discipline and can fuse them to create a product everyone loves.
Gardner notes that we can develop a creative mind by a) being personally dissatisfied with current work, b) being different from the norm, and c) willingly work to understand the “unexpected wrinkle.”
- How are you working to appreciate what is different?
4. The Respectful Mind
There was a time where we could be closed off to the world, safely protecting ourselves from opinions different from our own. That day has passed.
The Sharing Economy is based on, well this might sound trite, sharing. That means we willingly connect, to collaborate so we can create and cash in. We openly share when others are authentic and respectful. Given that we have many choices where to connect, if someone is not respectful, we can choose not to engage or to expose them. To thrive, we need to be respectful.
“But isn’t there a lot of disrespect out there?” I am taken back by how rude and uncivil we have become as a culture. Racism races, politicians pump the polarity and road rage races on. Meanwhile anonymous posters shame innocent individuals. If there is ever a time to stand out by going against the grain, it is for leaders to purposely be respectful in today’s environment.
How can you set yourself apart by being respectful?
5. The Ethical Mind
More than ever, customers have a choice for what they are purchasing and from whom they purchase it. We demand transparency and deplore self-centered gain. As a leader, if you have selfish intentions, it isn’t a secret that you can keep for very long. Someone is going to find out quick.
I’m mindful that during the preparation, survival and recovery from Hurricane Irma, the Attorneys General of Florida asked the public to report price gouging and attach a phone of the price. Many self-centered individuals looking to make a quick profit on someone else’s sudden need were thwarted. In the same way, the Boston Marathon bombers were captured because of all the videos and photos available from private citizens and businesses. In this age of transparency, being ethical is critical.
What are you doing to maintain the highest standards?
Become the Disruptive Leader and Break Through
I am Dr. Loren Murfield and I work with aspiring and emerging leaders to breakthrough and become disruptive leaders, doing the impossible by changing the paradigm of their thinking and telling powerful stories. If that is your desire, contact me today. I have a program for every budget.
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