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How to survive in the conceptual age

Image by Google Books

When Daniel H. Pink wrote A Whole New Mind, his objective was to gain attention from young adults, teens, and especially children. Pink felt that students were too indoctrinated by the school system, too focused on the right answer and pleasing authority figures rather than allowing their intrinsic motivation to blossom. His book is intended to help develop creativity and passion in young minds, preparing them for the future ahead.

The Left and Right Brain

Scientists have discovered that there is a line that divides the brain into two regions. The left side would be known as the crucial half, while the right side was subsidiary, the remnant. What you would expect in a brain, the left hemisphere possessed. It was rational, analytic, and logical. As further studies were done, a Caltech professor named Rodger W. Sperry discovered that the right brain wasn’t inferior to the left, it was just different. Although both halves play a role in everything we do, the left brain handles logic, sequence, literalness, and analysis while the right brain takes care of synthesis, emotional expression, context, and the big picture. Both sides work together despite specializing in different aspects. The characteristics of the left side of the brain are often referred to as L-Directed Thinking. The characteristics of the right side of the brain are often referred to as R-Directed Thinking.

The Transition to the Conceptual Age

As the world evolves and matures, so should one’s creativity. This new era no longer revolves around left-brain thinking…the future has arrived. Those who do not mature with the ages will struggle and possibly get left behind. This drastic change from L-Directed Thinking to R-Directed Thinking is the transition from the Information Age to the Conceptual Age, from knowledge workers to creators and empathizers. Pink states, “Now, R-Directed Thinking is suddenly grabbing the wheel, stepping on the gas, and determining where we’re going and how we’ll get there.” (p. 27)

One’s intelligence is no longer enough to continually and successfully thrive in the modern world. New technology is able to replace human left brains causing destruction and change to the majority of the jobs L-Directed thinkers would generally thrive in. Machines are becoming more reliable than humans ever were or could be. They don’t screw up, fatigue, choke under pressure, nor sulk over losses…they are simply superior.

Pink explains early on in the book, “To survive in this age, individuals and organizations must examine what they’re doing to earn a living and ask themselves, ‘Can a computer do it faster?’” (p. 51) What would give an individual an advantage, an edge over a computer that can do everything better, stronger, and faster? One’s livelihood depends on being able to do something machinery is incapable of. There are several attributes humans possess that computers do not. Computers do not express those same emotional and creative characteristics that draw people in. Making those emotional and touching connections is what attracts and allows distinction. The ability to learn and develop these creative skills will be the difference between those who get ahead and those who get left behind.

Image by Austin Kleon

The Six Senses

Breaking Down the Six Senses

Pink believes that by mastering these six essential aptitudes, one will gain a huge advantage in this new era. He created a portfolio, it holds a collection of tools, exercises, and further reading culled from research and travels that can help you surface and sharpen those senses. He devoted one chapter to each of these six senses, describing how it is being put to use in business and everyday life.


Design is something that is easily dismissed. If you take a look up and observe your surroundings, notice that everything you see has been designed. Whether it be the clothes that cover your body or the piece of furniture you are sitting on, they have all begun with a design. Design is a high-concept aptitude that increasingly offers a competitive advantage in business. Today it’s crucial to create something that is not only functional but whimsical.

How to Develop Sense of Design

1. Keep a Design Notebook

Buy a small notebook and begin carrying it with you wherever you go. When you see a great design, make a note of it. Do the same for flawed designs. Before long, you’ll understand in a deeper way how design decisions shape our everyday lives.