Recently I was posed this question by a media personality in Ireland and asked to write my comments for an upcoming Q+A TV show on this topic. Here’s my personal view …

 

The Western education system teaches students to be logically irrational rather than creatively rational. We teach our children to debate and defend their viewpoints rather than to escape and find even better ones. We teach our kids to lock themselves defensively inside the square rather than take an innovative leap outside the square. This makes them very slow thinkers.

Of course, in spite of all this, there are always a few exceptions and, depending on our mood, we either sing their creative praises or we single them out for judgement and correction. Interestingly, there are deep historical reasons for why we do this in our schools and in Western culture a lot can be traced back to Plato’s thoughts about the concept of TRUTH. There are basically two strategies when it comes to TRUTH: defence or search.

Pre-enlightenment thinking was about the DEFENCE of truth. “There is only one truth”, “I-am-right-and-you-are-wrong”, “God is on our side”, “Do what we say, or else”, “We know better than you because we have authority and rank”, “Our truth is the right truth”, “We have THE TRUTH so stop looking elsewhere. Just do as you’re told”. “Kill the infidel”. etc.

This authoritarian approach to ownership and defence of THE TRUTH got going in a big way after St Thomas Aquinas embedded a somewhat distorted view of Plato’s thinking into the Church at a time when the first universities were being set up. And, later when the European education system was being disseminated around the world by Roman-controlled missionaries, this Greco-Roman logic became the basic cognitive operating system for all of Western education.

In Australia, Greco-Roman Logic was imported here about 200 years ago along with rabbits and various other European delights. Even today, our children are still taught the ‘right/wrong’ system of sorting information. “This-is-right-and-that-is-wrong”. Logic is somewhat useful for sorting out the past but totally inadequate for designing much safer and more productive futures. We have come to call this kind of Greco-Roman Logic, ‘inside the square’ thinking.

So what do we see? We see grown-ups deeply trapped in irrational logic in business, in economics, in our legal system and in our parliament. In Canberra, for example, all the adults on one side of the House say “We-are-right-and-you-are-wrong”. Meanwhile, all the adults on the other side of the House say, “No. We-are-right-and-you-are-wrong”. Many of these members of the parliament are highly educated people; lawyers, journalists, business people and teachers. Watching it all on TV can be a most cringing experience. Electors in Australia are deeply dissatisfied with the performance in Canberra and are leaving the established political parties in droves.

Yet there is another strategy for TRUTH other than it’s mere logical defence. Since The Enlightenment we now have the innovative and scientific SEARCH for truth.

To encourage this strategy I use the formula: escape + search = think. If we can first escape from the righteousness of historical or traditional or authoritarian truths we can then search, experiment, and design much better truths. This is an ongoing and never-ending process.

Science offers us the search for much better truths than we currently have and we have developed very powerful tools to assist us in this search. Post-Enlightenment we now have The Scientific Method. We also have Darwinian Thinking. We have the use of evidence. We have the technology for observation and measurement. We have the forensic power of questions. “Why is this so?”, “What is the evidence?”, “What other possible explanation could apply?”, “How do you know?”, “What else have you tried”, “Give me ten other options”, “What are ten other possible explanations?, “Who is doing this differently?”, “How can we make this faster?”, “Why not do an experiment in order to see what happens?” etc. We often call this kind of thinking, ‘outside the square’.

It’s been my experience that although many highly educated Western people do know about The Enlightenment and might even be able to write a short essay on it, they are still very much pre-Enlightenment logical thinkers. Curiously, this is not the case in China. My experience there is that most highly educated Chinese people are post-Enlightenment thinkers and this is giving them a big advantage over their Western competitors. It will be interesting to see how this unfolds in the next decade.

In short, Western education has been about teaching kids to learn and logically DEFEND THE TRUTH (as revealed by their teachers) rather than giving them the thinking tools to discover much better truths through searching and measurement.

Evidence of this is in the type questions that teachers ask their students in school. There are closed questions that seek a correct answer. e.g. When was the Magna Carta signed? There are open or authentic questions where the teachers can provide an opportunity for the student to do some fresh thinking. e.g. What might have happened if the Magna Carta was never signed?

In one Harvard study of a large group of the top teachers in the US, the teachers were asked to estimate how many authentic questions that they had asked their students in the first semester of that year. The shocking results were: less than 1!!

On this big question about Western education my opinion is: We do not teach our kids to think for themselves. We teach them to learn what we tell them.

As a consequence of that, when we become adults in business, in law, in the media and in government we spend an extravagant amount of our time and energy defending what we believe to be true rather than discovering what we are capable of finding out.

Hardly any faculty is more important for the intellectual progress of man than ATTENTION. Animals clearly manifest this power, as when a cat watches by a hole and prepares to spring on its prey.

– Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man (1871)

 

Let’s talk about attention.

But first a small experiment.

INSTRUCTION: As soon as you have finished reading this sentence, turn your head around about 180 and describe something you can see that is coloured green and does not belong to you.

———-

OK. Here’s the point. Once you look in a direction it’s easy to see what is there. Here’s how it worked:

1. I gave you the cue above to turn your head and look for something specific
2. You turned your head and looked
3. You saw.

I don’t know where you are right now but most readers would have been able to carry this experiment out successfully, once you decided to look.

Here’s the special insight that I would like you to get now as a result of this little experiment. It will help you get better use out of the cvs2bvs brain software. It’s this:

———-

ONCE YOU MOVE YOUR ATTENTION IN A CERTAIN DIRECTION YOU CAN EASILY SEE WHAT IS THERE TO SEE. BUT, THE DECISION TO MOVE YOUR ATTENTION COULD TAKE TWENTY YEARS!

———-

Managing Your Attention
Many people feel that if there is an opportunity somewhere – a BVS – why, they’ll see it and go get it. They assume the very presence of a BVS will make itself known to them, that it will attract their attention. But no, it doesn’t work that way. You have to direct your own attention.

BVSs are there all the time, you’re tripping over them all day long, literally hundreds of them, but you’re not seeing them. The reason you’re missing them is obvious: It’s impossible to notice a BVS if your attention on defending your CVS.

 

Attention is the gateway to consciousness. Attention is the business of your mind. Attention is the principal service provided by the management section of your brain which enables you to focus in and have a mind– for you to think about things.

How you move your attention around is very interesting. There are three distinct aspects of attention-directing in your brain:

1. disengagement: escaping from your present fixation of attention
2. movement: movement of attention across the cognos, the vast universe of possible thoughts
3. engagement: attending to a new object out of a competition of an infinite multitude of possible candidates.

———-

The cvs2bvs brain software is designed as a switch that helps you to control your attention and move it around, especially when your attention is habitually focused on your CVS and its defence. CVS2BVS can help you disengage and move your attention away from your CVS and to engage it elsewhere on a BVS.

Pay attention! This is a command with which we are all familiar. We all heard it many times as children and we still hear it (if more subtly expressed) every day in business. We know what it means to direct our attention even though it is something we do inside our head.

———-

For example:

– In a noisy cocktail party, you can hone in on one particular conversation.
– In a business presentation, while presenting to the room at large and doing justice to her presentation as planned, an account executive can shift the attention around in her vision to catch the expression on her executive client’s face while apparently staring intently at her audio-visual.
– A marketing professional can show you how to deliberately shift your attention away from your product-driven strategy to a better client-driven one and then you can notice the way the information before you rearranges itself.
– A habit of attention may mean that the first thing a hairdresser notices about you is your hair while a dentist may notice your smile instead.
– On arriving at O’Hare International airport, I can pick out my driver from the dozens of others waiting even though my name is badly misspelt on his sign.
– An over-critical parent can pick out the one mistake in a child’s work and not see that the child has accomplished a great deal.
– A shared goal, like Sir Bob Geldorf’s Band-Aid, can cue a diverse group of individual and even competitive entertainers to give priority to a certain event where otherwise they would all be paying attention to something else.
– A team leader can pull back the attention of her team to a project-in-hand after a distraction had drawn attention away.
– A specific motion put before the board can focus the attention of the directors after a long and wandering discussion.
– Most languages have a word like Achtung! which focuses one’s attention.

———-

We experience attention as a filter that the management part of our brain applies to the flood of competing information that comes in from our senses.

Attention Disorders
Individuals who have suffered brain-damage can lose their ability to control their attention. Attention disorders are manifested in different ways depending on the nature of the damage. It can take the form of an inability to escape from a particular fixation and so they remain stuck in a viewpoint regardless of the demands of their environment.

Or, damage to the right side of the brain can make it impossible for patients to pay attention to the side opposite the damaged hemisphere even to the point of failing to dress the left side of their bodies.

Sometimes, loss of attention-control means constant and debilitating distraction. This is because a person suffering from an attention disorder cannot prevent attention from being diverted by irrelevant stimuli.

Attention is not just another ‘function’ alongside other cognitive functions. The kind of attention we bring to bear on the world changes the very nature of the world we attend to. Attention changes what kind of a thing comes into being for us: in that way it changes the world. If you are my friend, the way in which I attend to you will be different from the way in which I would attend to you if you were my employer, my patient, the suspect in a crime I an investigating. my lover, my aunt, a body waiting to be dissected. In all these circumstances, except the last, you will also have a quite different experience not just of me, but of yourself: you would feel changed if I changed the type of my attention. And yet nothing objectively has changed.

– Iain McGilchrist, The Master and The Emissary

What if you could do ten times more with ten times less?

This will be the big challenge for thought-leaders and knowledge-workers in the next decade from 2014 to 2024.

In the past decade of expanding economies you could survive and grow by doing more for more. Why? Because there was always more capital investment which led to more growth and more profit. It was a decade of business as usual.

In the next decade of shrinking economies you will have to survive and grow by doing more with less. There will be less capital investment but still seeking outcomes of more growth and more profit. Business as usual will no longer be enough. This will require a decade of business through innovation. Innovation at the speed of thought. Ten times more with ten times less.

There is little doubt that the next decade will NOT simply be a logical extension of the last decade. What was an expanding economic environment will now be replaced by a shrinking environment and only those enterprises that intelligently adapt to the brave new world will survive.

Nearly all of business education—even at postgraduate level—may be misguided, even misleading. In my experience, business education is faithfully based on a false premise—that the problem of business is growth. When, in fact, the problem of business (as in life) has always been survival.

Most business leaders may be spending their time and energy on solving the wrong problem. Yes, of course, growth is critical in business but the MAIN PROBLEM is that most businesses fail to survive long enough to grow!

Since Darwin explained the reasons 150 years ago, we know that it’s not the strongest or the largest that survive but it’s those best prepared to cope with change.

On this BIG PROBLEM of survival, most business executives are shockingly ignorant and deplete in their formal education. They lack sufficient darwinian intelligence.They know little or nothing useful about the science of strategic darwinian thinking.

They venture forth naked and ill-equipped in their approach to the chaos of the marketplace—the whirling, howling, cacophonous wilderness of the global marketplace with its ferocious fads, toxic wastes, and vicious moods, its callous explosions and cruel extinctions putting capricious end to the blind and righteous rivalry across pointless medieval double-entry boardrooms.

Extravagant expenditures of directors’ time and energy are squandered on the talmudic reading of balance-sheets and P&Ls, like the obsessive pre-scientific study of entrails, when less than one director in a hundred could give an intelligent, educated account of what strategy it would take for their business to survive in the fast-changing and shrinking economic environment of the next decade.

Experiment: Ask any director you know to demonstrate their strategic understanding of Darwin’s Theory and to show how s/he uses that knowledge to safeguard the future of the company. If you get a clear, articulate response it will be a surprise.

Is there any business school in Australia that insists their graduates understand the strategic business application of the darwinian imperative? Are there any of the endless ‘case studies’ churned out by business schools devoted to darwinian business strategy?

Do let me know if you find one.

 

– Click here – for a copy of the 38-lesson coursebook

and you can start reading

English Thinking: The Three Methods

on your Kindle in under a minute.

Kindle Price $9.95.

 

http://tinyurl.com/c2wtev9

 

The author: Michael Hewitt-Gleeson

 

ENGLISH THINKING:

The Three Methods

1. Greco-Roman Logic

for thinking inside the square,


2. The Scientific Method

for thinking outside the square,

3. Cognitive Science

for software for the brain and apps for intelligence.

 

SOME UNEDITED COMMENTS FROM READERS ON THE BRAIN SOFTWARE IN THIS BOOK …

– this stuff is worth more than all the traditional education stuff combined

– To focus on the process instead of just the result. I’ve previously taken a variety of work related courses on this subject, however none have matched the presentation given here.

– Mind-blowing and life changing. Having a daily lesson gives me a few minutes away from patterned behaviors to stop and think. SDNT CVSTOBVS QRH PRR. Each letter of the ET 123 code opens a new world of possibilities. The lessons learnt here will be relevant and useful for the rest of my life.

– cvs2bvs. simple effective pure genie in the bottle stuff

– Yes. I can DO a ‘switch’! This is a large shift from the idea that creativity is a magical and mysterious process that awaits inspiration.

– what a relief to be free!! if i cannot step aside from my cvs then I’m unable to think effectively on any issue. i am just churning out familiar ideas and beliefs.

– SOT has taught me to think outside the square. A remarkable achievement.

– I love the thought that cvs2bvs is universal so that I can apply it to any situation. There is always a better way to see a situation and the universal switch simply has to be used.

– i was humbled and exhilarated at the same time! curious sensations.

– Again I’d like to thank Michael for his tireless contribution to this worthwhile cause and encourage him to continue despite the inevitable weight of the challenges involved.

– With the repetition of cvs2bvs I have come to realize that with any situation there’s potential “always” for a BVS.

– The main insight for me is the Escape. Escaping from my current point of view, rather than indignantly defending it. A realization that something else might just be better rather than taking it personally that someone else may not agree with my current point of view.

– escape from the idea that some little old man in robes is judging us all.

– I feel my confidence building day by day. Looking forward to the next set of lessons.

– There have been many benefits in using CVS to BVS. The most significant has been the realization that I have more time than I realize to make a decision.

– The main insight I’ve noticed is how little time I spend in defending a CVS, rather time is invested in thinking and continuing searching for Ever Better ideas and actions to produce ever better results.

– I really like the idea of cvstobvs as a switch because it denotes, to me, ease of action. Its as simple as shifting ones thinking, changing the perspective and pow! You find yourself going from cvs to bvs. The concept of a switch that takes you to infinite universes of thinking is game-changing and has had a very powerful impact upon me.

– The SDNT CVSTOBVS QRH PRR sequence, it’s a wonderful compact philosophy that I‘m using 24/7! That’s the key for innovation and productivity.

– NO matter what the situation there IS a better view of the situation. Imagine if you lived your whole life stuck inside a disempowering view of the current view of the situation and the day before you died you found you could create a better view of the situation and you could have created a fulfilling satisfying and peaceful life. Well “I’VE GOT THE POWER”. Thank you Michael.

– dude! this place is so awesome! they describe thinking process in such fine fashion. learning from the quotes of all great people plus the cvs2bvs. dude u must check it out. it will widen your thinking outside the box.

– Click here – for a copy of the 38-lesson coursebook

and you can start reading

English Thinking: The Three Methods

on your Kindle in under a minute.

Kindle Price $9.95.

http://tinyurl.com/c2wtev9