'Meaning' is the new money


I believe we are in a period of massive change and generally people are looking for deeper meaning in their lives. With the global financial crisis and lack of trust in governments and corporations many people are hungry for something different and may have lost the connection to their deeper selves. After decades of pursuing riches, wealth seems less alluring and meaning has become the new money. Whilst I was researching this I came across a book by Dan Pink called 'A Whole New Mind' about how the 21st century is all about the Conceptual Age and the future of global business will belong to the right brain thinkers. The era of 'left brain' predominance of the logical, linear, computer based Information Age that it engendered are giving way to a new world of 'right brain' qualities that predominate which are inventiveness, empathy and meaning. The future belongs to those with a right brain mindset - creators, empathizers, pattern recognizers and 'meaning makers'. These people -  artists, inventors, designers, storytellers, caregivers, consolers, big picture thinkers will all reap the rewards of this new age. We need to maintain our left brain directed skills but now master six essential right brain directed skills. The six essential aptitudes on which professional success and personal fulfillment now depend are Design, Story, Symphony, Empathy, Play and Meaning. Pink reckons that these six senses will increasingly guide our lives and shape our world.

The four historical major ages:

1.  Agricultural Age (farmers) 18th century - left brain domination

2.  Industrial Age (factory workers) 19th century - left brain domination

3.  Information Age (knowledge workers) 20th century - left brain domination

4.  Conceptual Age (creators and empathizers) 21st century - right brain skills now required

According to the latest research, IQ accounts for between 4 and 10 per cent of career success. However, IQ tests are based upon excessive left brain directed thinking. The qualities that are more important and tougher to quantify are imagination, joyfulness and social dexterity - right brain qualities. Pink says the most valued degree in business is now the Master of Fine Arts (MFA). The MFA is the new MBA.

Research also found that the most effective leaders were funny (ha ha, not peculiar) and these leaders had their charges laughing three times more often than their managerial counterparts. Interestingly in my 20's before I started my own business I only had 3 great bosses all called Ian and all hilarious and well loved - so I can testify to this!

I think this book is more relevant now than when it was first written just before the financial crisis. I'm even more delighted that the future belongs to skills that I embrace where creativity is key, but I do think if you can integrate the right brain and left brain qualities equally you'll go far!

Happy Conceptual Age!

'Leadership is about empathy.  It is about having the ability to relate and to connect with people for the purpose of inspiring and empowering their lives.'   -  Oprah Winfrey