The Great ‘Escape’

I was in Sri Lanka last week conducting a series of masterclasses in a leadership retreat for Marie Stopes International and their country leaders.

In one session I was asked the following excellent question: “If you could only ever teach just one thing about ‘thinking’ what would it be?”

Based on my experience, I’m quite clear on that question and my answer was one word, “Escape!”

When I first put forward the idea of designing a selection of ‘thinking caps’ to teach thinking the strategy was that in order to use, say, Cap #2 the thinker first had to remove (or escape from) Cap#1. This is one of the most difficult skills in thinking and is indeed what defines a skilled thinker: someone who can escape from their current point-of-view.

Escape! Escape! Escape!

Recently I was asked to teach a class at Brighton Grammar how to use the Thinking Hats (based on Edward de Bono’s six hat version) so I selected two hats–the black and the green hats–and drilled the students in the skill of removing the black hat first. Once you are able to remove the hat you are wearing (usually the black hat) then you are free to select any of the other hats. But, if you cannot escape from your current hat then you are not free to use a different one.

The same strategy applies to the Universal Brain Software–CVS to BVS. If you cannot escape from your CVS then you cannot move to a BVS.

Yes, thinking skill is all about ESCAPE.


• MEA in Tasmania – MasterClasses
• New Contact Details – Move to St Kilda
• World Thinking Congress 2010


• MEA in Tasmania – MasterClasses
Will you join me in Tasmania? I’ll be doing a series of my new masterclassesat MEA (1-3 April) in Tasmania. It will be fun to meet with the ‘meeting’ industry and I look forward to seeing you there. The theme for 2007 is “An Island in a Sea of Change” and here’s the link:

• New Contact Details – Move to St Kilda
I’ve left the leafy streets of Armadale and my new ‘seachange’ is a move back to St Kilda where I was born 60 years ago. Great view overlooking St Kilda Pier and the Yacht Squadron–Tassie Ferries, cruise ships and of course St Kilda’s famous ‘street life’. I once met Sir Peter Ustinov in New York where I lived for many years. When I asked him to name a favourite place in the world he chose St Kilda and described it as “that wonderful seaside raunchiness”.
My new contact details are: Voice/Fax +613.9593.8339

• World Thinking Congress 2010 (WTC 2010)
Here’s a preview–in July the School of Thinking will announce that it will be hosting the World Thinking Congress in Melbourne in 2010. It will be held in the new 5000 seat Melbourne Convention Centre due to be in operation in 2009. WTC 2010 will be the biggest convention ever held on the subject of ‘Thinking’. Exciting world class keynote speakers will be announced in June.

Best regards,



My speaker links:

For more information please contact:


Dr Michael Hewitt-Gleeson
School of Thinking
Mobile/Cell: 0401.004.658

The consequences are coming …

Consequences can be very difficult to forsee. Some conseqences are beneficial, some are detrimental. But, they ARE coming! We cannot escape the consequences.

Even experienced executives, scientists and statespeople have difficulty is seeing past the short term consequences of their decisions.

Especially when teaching children to think, who have no long term perspective, it is very difficult to teach them to consider the 5, 10, 15 and 20 year consequences of their thinking, decisions and actions.
Are you aware of the Law of Unintended Consequences?

Wikipedia says, “Unintended consequences are situations where an action results in an outcome that is not (or not only) what is intended. The unintended results may be foreseen or unforeseen, but they should be the logical or likely results of the action. For example, it is often conjectured that if the Treaty of Versailles had not imposed such harsh conditions on Germany, World War II would not have occurred. As such, war was an unintended consequence of the Treaty of Versailles … ”
Go to Wikipedia for more on this topic …

Should doctors think?

This was the title of a lecture I presented a few years ago at Monash Medical Centre to the medical staff. The title was deliberately provocative and the auditorium was filled. Doctors and medical staff work hard, they make critical decisions under relentless pressure and they use the same brain that we use.

This well-written article from the New Yorker by Jerome Groopman explores this topic:

“The errors that doctors make because of their feelings for a patient can be significant. We all want to believe that our physician likes us and is moved by our plight. Doctors, in turn, are encouraged to develop positive feelings for their patients; caring is generally held to be the cornerstone of humanistic medicine. Sometimes, however, a doctor’s impulse to protect a patient he likes or admires can adversely affect his judgment.”

More …

The Happy Samaritan

I was discussing this morning, with Marty Seligman who is visiting Melbourne, the link between positive/creative thinking and altruism.

His research has shown there is a direct link. In other words, that positive, optimistic thinkers are more inclined to help others and be altruistic than pessimistic thinkers.

I suggested the parable of the Good Samaritan would be better called The Happy Samaritan. ‘Good’ is merely a judgement while ‘happy’ is an insight. Marty said, “Why don’t you write that up?”. So, I did.

Visit his site and take his Signature Strengths Test–it’s excellent.

Ten Facts about Your Brain …

Your brain weighs about 3 pounds (1,300-1,400 g).

Your brain has about 100,000,000,000 (100 billion) neurons.

The total surface area of your cerebral cortex is about 2500 sq. cm

Unconsciousness will occur after 8-10 seconds after loss of blood supply to your brain.

Neurons multiply at a rate 250,000 neurons/minute during early pregnancy.

You have 12 pairs of cranial nerves.

You have 31 pairs of spinal nerves.

There are about 13,500,000 neurons in your spinal cord.

You can hear in the range of 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz.

There are 1,000 to 10,000 synapses for your “typical” neuron.