Your own awakening starts today …

Adapted from ‘The Awakening’ … (Author Unknown)

A time comes in your life when you finally get it… when, in the midst of all your fears and insanity, you stop dead in your tracks and somewhere the voice inside your head cries out – ENOUGH!

Enough fighting and crying or struggling to hold on. And, like a child quieting down after a blind tantrum, your sobs begin to subside, you shudder once or twice, you blink back your tears and begin to look at the world through new eyes. This is your awakening. You realize it’s time to stop hoping and waiting for something to change… or for happiness, safety and security to come galloping over the next horizon. You come to terms with the fact that neither of you is Prince Charming or Cinderella and that in the real world there aren’t always fairy tale endings (or beginnings for that matter) and that any guarantee of “happily ever after” must begin with you… and in the process a sense of serenity is born of acceptance.

You awaken to the fact that you are not perfect and that not everyone will always love, appreciate or approve of who or what you are… and that’s OK. They are entitled to their own views and opinions. And you learn the importance of loving and championing yourself… and in the process a sense of new found confidence is born of self-approval.

You stop complaining and blaming other people for the things they did to you (or didn’t do for you) and you learn that the only thing you can really count on is the unexpected.

You learn that people don’t always say what they mean or mean what they say and that not everyone will always be there for you and that it’s not always about you. So, you learn to stand on your own and to take care of yourself… and in the process a sense of safety and security is born of self-reliance. You stop judging and pointing fingers and you begin to accept people as they are and to overlook their shortcomings and human frailties… and in the process a sense of peace and contentment is born of forgiveness.

You realize that much of the way you view yourself, and the world around you, is as a result of all the messages and opinions that have been ingrained into your psyche. And you begin to sift through all the junk you’ve been fed about how you should behave, how you should look, how much you should weigh, what you should wear, what you should do for a living, how much money you should make, what you should drive, how and where you should live, whom you should marry, the importance of having and raising children, and what you owe your parents, family, and friends.

You learn to open up to new worlds and different points of view. And you begin reassessing and redefining who you are and what you really stand for. You learn the difference between wanting and needing and you begin to discard the doctrines and values you’ve outgrown, or should never have bought into to begin with … and in the process you learn to go with your instincts.

You learn that it is truly in giving that we receive. And that there is power and glory in creating and contributing and you stop maneuvering through life merely as a “consumer” looking for your next fix.

You learn that principles such as honesty and integrity are not the outdated ideals of a by gone era but the mortar that holds together the foundation upon which you must build a life. You learn that you don’t know everything, it’s not your job to save the world and that you can’t teach a pig to sing.

You learn to distinguish between guilt and responsibility and the importance of setting boundaries and learning to say NO. You learn that the only cross to bear is the one you choose to carry and that martyrs get burned at the stake. Then you learn about love. How to love, how much to give in love, when to stop giving and when to walk away.

You learn to look at relationships as they really are and not as you would have them be. You stop trying to control people, situations and outcomes. And you learn that alone does not mean lonely. You also stop working so hard at putting your feelings aside, smoothing things over and ignoring your needs.

You learn that feelings of entitlement are perfectly OK…and that it is your right to want things and to ask for the things you want and that sometimes it is necessary to make demands. You come to the realization that you deserve to be treated with love, kindness, sensitivity and respect and you won’t settle for less. And you learn that your body really is your temple. And you begin to care for it and treat it with respect.

You begin to eat a balanced diet, drink more water, and take more time to exercise. You learn that being tired fuels doubt, fear, and uncertainty and so you take more time to rest. And, just as food fuels the body, laughter fuels our soul. So you take more time to laugh and to play.

You learn that, for the most part, you get in life what you believe you deserve… and that much of life truly is a self-fulfilling prophecy. You learn that anything worth achieving is worth working for and that wishing for something to happen is different than working toward making it happen. More importantly, you learn that in order to achieve success you need direction, discipline and perseverance. You also learn that no one can do it all alone… and that it’s OK to risk asking for help.

You learn the only thing you must truly fear is the greatest robber baron of all: FEAR itself. You learn to step right into and through your fears because you know that whatever happens you can handle it and to give in to fear is to give away the right to live life on your own terms. And you learn to fight for your life and not to squander it living under a cloud of impending doom.

You learn that life isn’t always fair, you don’t always get what you think you deserve and that sometimes bad things happen to unsuspecting, good people. On these occasions you learn not to personalize things. You learn that the gods aren’t punishing you or failing to answer your prayers. It’s just life happening. And you learn to deal with evil in its most primal state – the ego.

You learn that negative feelings such as anger, envy and resentment must be understood and redirected or they will suffocate the life out of you and poison the universe that surrounds you. You learn to admit when you are wrong and to build bridges instead of walls.

You learn to be thankful and to take comfort in many of the simple things we take for granted, things that millions of people upon the earth can only dream about: a full refrigerator, clean running water, a soft warm bed, a long hot shower. Slowly, you begin to take responsibility for yourself by yourself and you make yourself a promise to never betray yourself and to never, ever settle for less than your heart’s desire. And you hang a wind chime outside your window so you can listen to the wind. And you make it a point to keep smiling, to keep trusting, and to stay open to every wonderful possibility.

Finally, with courage in your heart YOU take a stand.

You take a deep breath, and you begin to design the life you want to live as best you can.

Start by making today count … right now …

Antidote! The Booklet.

All the world’s governments are devoting mega-resources to fight the coronavirus and rightly so because the threat to all humans is serious. But, at the same time, they are not yet solving the problem of the costly coronavirus meme pandemic.

There are lots of information viruses–memes–spreading around which are plain wrong, causing panic, sucking up precious resources, damaging businesses and infecting brains in unhelpful ways.

This is my new booklet, Antidote!, to help people deal with the raging Covid-19 memes. (Click to read … )

Knowledge about memes and how they infect your brain is real protection. Brains that have this knowledge have greater protection than brains that are still ignorant about memes.

CLICK TO READ:
https://schoolofthinking.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Antidote-2.pdf

Vale Jack Welch of GE.

Champion of x10 Thinking

Jack was an x10 thinker. He also knew the paradox of thinking outside the box. He told me, “I had to hide on the way up the GE ladder all the thinking skills I needed when I became CEO otherwise I would never have been promoted.”

Historically, School of Thinking owes much of its success to three distinguished thinkers: Edward de Bono, George Gallup and Jack Welch. Today we remember Jack Welch.

In New York in 1985 Jack Welch of GE introduced x10 thinking to all GE senior executives and middle managers. Jack read my book NewSell (Boardroom Books, NY 1984) and personally authorised the teaching of ‘x10 Thinking’ (the universal brain software cvs2bvs) across the GE enterprise. He wrote, “I wish I had a management team that really understood Michael’s x10 Thinking because it’s the value-creation skill in the management process”. In subsequent years GE executives have been sought out by Fortune 500 companies because they were considered the ‘creme de la creme’ of the US leadership crop.

With regard to School of Thinking in the corporate sector it started in 1984 when IBM became the first of the Fortune 500 companies to introduce the cvs2bvs lateral thinking skill to senior executives. Then Jack Welch made a corporate mission three-year commitment to training all GE senior executives. The investment for this project was $50,000 and I was retained for top fees to design a 30 x slide projector multi-media training experience to teach – cvs2bvs – the universal brain software and we flew this unit around the GE world from New York to Crotonville to Acapulco training GE executives in ‘x10 Thinking’ from 1985-1987. At that time it was the biggest investment any US company had ever made in teaching lateral thinking skills. Looking back since then it’s worth noting the following facts:

• Jack Welch of GE was himself a master of x10 Thinking. He nicknamed it ‘boundaryless thinking” and also “boundarylessness’.

• By the time he left Jack had grown the world famous General Electric Company from a market value of $14 billion to a market value of $410 billion – an increase of more than 2,700%making it the most valuable company in the history of the world. Thinking way outside the box he had transformed it from not only a century-old manufacturer but also a national broadcaster and a global bank!

• “Our dream for the 1990s,” Welch wrote in GE’s 1990 annual report, “is a boundaryless company where we knock down the walls that separate us from each other on the inside and from our key constituencies on the outside.”

• In his book about his time at GE Jack: Straight From the Gut (2001) he wrote about cvs2bvs: “It would make each of us wake up with the goal of “Finding a Better Way Every Day”. It was a phrase that became a slogan, put up on the walls of GE factories and offices around the world. It was the essence of boundaryless behaviour, and it defined our expectations”.

• Famous for the little handwritten notes he would send to people, Jack sent me several and the one I prized most said simply: “Michael, you are a friend of our company”.

• In 1999, Fortune magazine named him “Manager of the Century”. • Since then, thousands of companies in the US and around the world have used ideas from the GE Model. Scores of Fortune 500 companies emulated the leadership example and transformation model set by Jack Welch at GE.

• Many business volumes, Harvard Business Review articles and other media have been written about Jack’s value-driven transformation of his company.

• Using his cutting-edge strategies like Work Out, Boundarylessness and Six Sigma, Jack has developed more leaders than any other CEO in business history.

• That I know of, the Jack Welch era at GE produced CEOs for Honeywell, 3M, Boeing, Intuit, Symantec, Home Depot, Chrysler, Siemans and Merck. According to USA Today the top three companies for producing CEOs of other Fortune 500 companies are GE (26), IBM (18) and McKinsey (16).

Today, Larry Page of Google is the best proponent of x10 thinking and today Google is the most valuable company in the world. In emulating Jack Welch Larry Page says he “lives by the gospel of x10″. (WIRED, Feb 2013, Cover). Like Jack Welch, Larry Page has also nicknamed x10 thinking. He calls it … ‘moonshot thinking’.

The Female Brain?

Leading British neuroscientist, Professor Gina Rippon, has research which has been used to dismantle the idea that there are distinct differences in male and female brains.

Her work has shown that early research fuelled the myth that female biology is inferior. She presents cutting edge neuroscience to detail how our brains are highly plastic, individualised, adaptable and full of potential. And the politics and prejudice behind it.

Watch Professor Rippon briefly introduce her ideas about the female and male brain …

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Teaching the World to Think – 1979 to 2019

The New Idea of ‘Thinking Instructors’

As an innovator in the new field of cognitive science, my own original idea was ‘thinking instructors’. My specific idea was: ‘Anyone can learn to think if they have a thinking instructor.’ Today there are over 6 million thinking instructors worldwide.

This innovation all started at HBO studios in New York in 1977 when I produced a 3-part video training series called ‘Train the Trainer’ for Equitable Life. Copies were made and sent to all 185 branches. It was the first nationwide corporate video training product in America. The train-the-trainer techniques were based on my previous decade of experiences in and out of the military especially principles from the Australian Army’s clever ‘Scheyville Method’ for thinking way outside the box. Later, in 1979, I researched and adapted ‘Train the Trainer’ for training ‘thinking instructors’ and designed the ‘Learn-To-Think Project’: to train 300,000 thinking instructors in America for teaching lateral thinking skills in schools, in businesses and in communities.


In November 1979, I presented the Learn-to-Think Project to Cambridge Professor of Investigative Medicine, Edward de Bono, on one of his visits to NYC. Edward was very animated by the idea of ‘thinking instructors’. He said it was ‘brilliant because of the multiplier effect’ and offered to contribute his 60-lesson version of CoRT Thinking as content for the thinking lessons to be used by the thinking instructors. Although the CoRT content was indeed excellent to get us started the instructors soon found that 60 lessons were impractical – being far too many skills to train and disseminate widely – and so we worked to replace these 60 with 6. We then published our detailed plan for implementing the ambitious national project in a comprehensive train-the-trainer’s manual entitled ‘Learn-To-Think: Coursebook and Instructor’s Manual’ (Capra New 1982).

I got going in New York without government funding, grants or corporate sponsorship. The ‘teaching thinking’ idea was resisted for some time but I self-funded and persevered with training instructors in school districts in New York, Dallas and San Francisco and eventually the idea of ‘thinking instructors’ got real traction.

With the help of a small but talented and mission-devoted team of senior instructors whom I personally trained the big breakthrough came in April 1983 when we collaborated with the Readers Digest (#1 audited magazine in the world) in an initiative to publish our coursebook’s thinking lessons in a cover story across all international editions. Anticipating the internet, this media Big Bang went viral and totalled a distribution of nearly half a billion thinking lessons in a major international publishing event. It was a part of a cascading media phenomenon which was launched on January 9th, 1983 in our special 2-page supplement in the New York Times called Teaching Thinking: The new trend in education. The emphasis was on the importance of having thinking instructors in schools because “… without specific efforts there is no assurance that students will learn to think laterally”.

Dr Eric Bienstock was the first thinking instructor who I trained in New York in January 1980. Today there are more than 6.6 million thinking instructors in the world. Over 3 million in primary schools and over 3.5 million in secondary schools. Many are still teaching the ‘Six Thinking Hats Method’ originally developed by the School of Thinking in 1983.


So, on this day (17 November 1979) which is the 40th Anniversary of the School of Thinking, after 40 years of focus and energy and on this occasion of my retirement, I believe I can safely say: Mission accomplished!

But, the question is: do the efforts of thinking instructors really have a significant impact on schools, businesses and communities? Yes they do and the evidence is both positive and plentiful. Like the flap of a butterfly’s wings or a pebble in a pond the sudden intervention of the ‘teaching of thinking skills’ in schools and businesses can trigger a concatenation of consequences that go on and on over long sequels of time.

SFUSD

For example teaching thinking (metacognition) disrupted the standard curriculum in schools in the Bay Area in the mid-80s with very valuable consequences not only for graduate students but also for their employers. The sudden introduction of lateral thinking skills to the SFUSD (San Francisco Unified School District) in 1984 was signed off by Superintendent Robert Alioto. I was personally invited to train all the primary school principals. By 1985, all public primary schools began the special lessons for teaching metacognition (thinking about thinking) to students across the Bay Area. In the 90s and 2000s a significant explosion of cognitive surplus took off in the valley. The majority of all male and female paid thinkers on the Silicon Valley payrolls were products of the SFUSD system, and among the first in the US to be taught by thinking instructors. The return on payroll for Bay Area employers was exponential far outpacing both the state and the nation in patents issued. Many scholars have pointed out this overlap of education and economy in the Bay Area. Today, it is said that If the Bay Area was a country like Switzerland or Saudi Arabia its own GDP of $790+ billion (which outstrips them both) would be one of the highest GDPs in the world.

GE

In New York in 1985 Jack Welch of GE introduced teaching thinking to all GE senior executives and middle managers. Jack read my book NewSell (Boardroom Books, NY 1984) and personally authorised the teaching of ‘x10 Thinking’ (cvs2bvs: software for the brain) across the GE enterprise. He wrote, “I wish I had a management team that really understood Michael’s x10 Thinking because it’s the value-creation skill in the management process”. In subsequent years GE executive have been sought out by Fortune 500 companies because they were considered the ‘creme de la creme’ of the US leadership crop. For over 30 years cvs2bvs has been used by princes, presidents and prime-ministers around the world. By Olympic champions, scientists, soldiers, salesmen, parents, teenagers and kids.

In particular with the under-25s, because of their PFC Deficit, the teaching of thinking skills adds a big and lasting benefit to lives of teenagers and young people (see my book The 4th Brain (2019).

Why? Because one of the biggest discoveries of cognitive neuroscience is the inchoate teenage brain. It is now a significant fact that the PFC, Pre-Frontal Cortex, does not mature in the human brain until the mid-twenties!

The PFC is the critical decider, it’s where the executive decisions are made. It’s where you game your life. Life choices. Career decisions. Lateral thinking. Those who get the training have a big advantage over those who do not.

With regard to the corporate sector it started in 1984 when IBM became the first of the Fortune 500 companies to introduce the cvs2bvs lateral thinking skill to senior executives. Then Jack Welch made a corporate mission three-year commitment to training all GE senior executives. The investment for this project was $50,000 and I was retained for top fees to design a 30 x slide projector multi-media training experience to teach – cvs2bvs – the universal brain software and we flew this unit around the GE world from New York to Crotonville to Acapulco training GE executives in ‘x10 Thinking’ from 1985-1987. At that time it was the biggest investment any US company had ever made in teaching lateral thinking skills. Looking back since then it’s worth noting the following facts:

• Jack Welch of GE was himself a master of x10 Thinking. He nicknamed it ‘boundaryless thinking” and also “boundarylessness’.

• By the time he left Jack had grown the world famous General Electric Company from a market value of $14 billion to a market value of $410 billion – an increase of more than 2,700%making it the most valuable company in the history of the world. Thinking way outside the box he had transformed it from not only a century-old manufacturer but also a national broadcaster and a global bank!

• “Our dream for the 1990s,” Welch wrote in GE’s 1990 annual report, “is a boundaryless company where we knock down the walls that separate us from each other on the inside and from our key constituencies on the outside.”

• In his book about his time at GE Jack: Straight From the Gut (2001) he wrote about cvs2bvs: “It would make each of us wake up with the goal of “Finding a Better Way Every Day”. It was a phrase that became a slogan, put up on the walls of GE factories and offices around the world. It was the essence of boundaryless behaviour, and it defined our expectations”.

• Famous for the little handwritten notes he would send to people, Jack sent me several and the one I prized most said simply: “Michael, you are a friend of our company”.

• In 1999, Fortune magazine named him “Manager of the Century”. • Since then, thousands of companies in the US and around the world have used ideas from the GE Model. Scores of Fortune 500 companies emulated the leadership example and transformation model set by Jack Welch at GE.

• Many business volumes, Harvard Business Review articles and other media have been written about Jack’s value-driven transformation of his company.

• Using his cutting-edge strategies like Work Out, Boundarylessness and Six Sigma, Jack has developed more leaders than any other CEO in business history.

• That I know of, the Jack Welch era at GE produced CEOs for Honeywell, 3M, Boeing, Intuit, Symantec, Home Depot, Chrysler, Siemans and Merck. According to USA Today the top three companies for producing CEOs of other Fortune 500 companies are GE (26), IBM (18) and McKinsey (16). Today, Larry Page of Google is the best proponent of x10 thinking and today Google is the most valuable company in the world. Page says he “lives by the gospel of x10″. (WIRED, Feb 2013, Cover). Like Jack Welch, Larry Page has also nicknamed x10 thinking. He calls it … ‘moonshot thinking’.

These two case studies – SFUSD and GE – show the compounding value and return on payroll of using thinking instructors for the direct teaching of metacognition – of lateral thinking and critical thinking skills.


There have been many other case studies, like The Clever Country in Australia, and thousands of other experiments in business and education still going on around the world today. Going forward and in a Darwinian world where human intelligence is now being seriously threatened by artificial intelligence (AI) we may need the idea of ‘thinking instructors’ more and more than ever before.

Dr Michael Hewitt-Gleeson, Emeritus Principal, School of Thinking, 17 November 2019


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Better Thinkers Avoid Stress

Without any doubt whatsoever, cvs2bvs combined with x10 is just about the most powerful concept I have ever come across. When I first read about this brain app, it was like a very bright light switching on in my mind. I intend to make this idea a permanent part of my everyday life.
- Secondary Teacher

For instructional purposes, the human brain is often called the triune brain because it has three layers that evolved over many thousands of generations.

  1. The reptile brain runs the automatic body systems.

  2. The mammal brain is the emotional brain.

  3. The human brain is the thinking brain.

(The ‘triune model’ is not literal but is metaphorically useful)

Reptile Brain

Your inner-most, smallest and most ancient reptilian brain may well be your most treasured possession. It controls everything you value most, your life systems. It runs your body temperature, blood sugar levels, heart rate and blood pressure, your respiration, releasing hormones for all the daily house-keeping and maintaining homeostasis or balance. Your reptile brain regulates deep evolutionary maintenance and self-healing. It’s hard-earned digital wisdom has been curated over the course of a million successful generations. It’s IP value in dollarized terms is simply priceless.

Mammal Brain

Your life systems reptilian brain is in constant conversation 24/7/365 with your emotional mammalian brain. Your wide repertoire of emotions ranging from fear, anxiety and anger to sexual longing to surprise, joy, sadness, trust and disgust. These are all triggered and/or switched in the mammalian brain. These mood changes and emotional switches are in sync with high speed parallel processing in the reptilian brain. The reptilian brain can stimulate the mammalian brain … and, of course, vice versa.

Human Brain

Enter your BIG human brain! This newest brain, the neocortex, is also in conversation 24/7/365 with both the older brains. As you would expect, their conversations can stimulate responses in the human cortical brain … and, again, vice versa. All three evolutionary brains are in constant digital engagement up and down the neuronal layers of the triune brain (reminder that this is not literally accurate but is practically so, metaphorically).

So what?

So what does this mean to you on a daily basis? It means that real fear and imagined fear both work the same way in stimulating stress responses in the triune brain.

When you are walking alone through Hyde Park at night and you suddenly hear a sinister sound behind you, your heart will suddenly pump faster, you will be flooded with adrenalin and other stress hormones, your blood pressure will spike and your skin will crawl. You will have a stress response whether Jack the serial killer is actually there … or not.

The Human Stress Response

Daily Stress

The problem on a daily basis is this: what if you are turning on the stress response too often and too long for imagined or psychological reasons and doing this on a daily basis?

In other words, chronic stress.

The answer is: Imagining Jack every day will kill you just as surely as the real Jack will, only it will take a little longer.

The stress response doesn’t have to be fear of Jack, of course. It can be other stress inducing causes like fear of mistakes or failure in career, business or job-related situations, fear of family crises, relationship conflicts, social media, fear of political or global issues etc etc etc.

The take away is that the reptile brain’s stress response is there to save your life from the real, but rare, life-threatening crisis like a sudden ambush from a Jack or a charging elephant. But, continuous imagined or psychological crises in the mammal brain, on a daily basis, will cause cascading stress responses that can give you depression, alcohol dependence, ulcers and heart disease.

Lateral thinking avoids stress

The greatest opportunity on Earth, for cognitive fitness, is lateral thinking. The numerical synonym for lateral thinking is x10 thinking. Although it is not natural for humans it can be taught and learned.

Lateral thinking (x10 thinking) is our best tool for creating value, our best hope for solving wicked problems, our best defense against imagined fears, fear of mistakes, fear of failure in career, business or job-related situations, fear of family crises, relationship conflicts, social media, fear of political or global issues etc etc etc.

 

Better Thinkers Solve Problems

A wicked problem is one which cannot be solved using human logic, our current and dominant way of thinking.

The rapid acceleration of global climate change, the unprecedented scale of the nuclear threat and the rising hegemony of artificial intelligence are all examples of wicked problems that cannot be solved with logic.

At the level of human2human relationships, many causes of daily conflict are not solved but even exacerbated by binary I-am-right-and-you-are-wrong logic-style thinking.

Logic is natural to the human brain’s limbic system because it is driven by the emotion of fear. In particular, the fear of ‘mistakes’.

In contrast, lateral thinking is not natural to the human brain. It is counter-intuitive. It requires re-wiring. Rather like driving a car, It must be acquired as a skill with deliberate practise and repetition over time.

Lateral thinking is a skill that we should be teaching our children … because they are going to need it!

In this recent DEAKIN University Talk Dr Michael Hewitt-Gleeson draws attention to “the greatest problem on Earth”.

It’s a wicked problem that’s a hundred times bigger than the problem of global warming and many orders of magnitude greater than the problems of health, water or population. It’s also the greatest opportunity on earth!

If you have 2 minutes you can eavesdrop in on the greatest problem on Earth