Michael, Peter Cosgrove, John Tickell and other leading Australian speakers will work with more than 200 of Australia’s business people and thought-leaders at a unique workshop on the Gold Coast in August.
“Before I could put my name to this seminar I needed to be convinced it offered substance and the right ingredients to allow all attendees to receive real take home benefits for their business.” Andrew Vincent, Executive Producer –Your Business Success, Channel 9, every Sunday.
I have designed the 7th Hat for Wisdom which is the Grey Thinking Hat.
Of all the original Thinking Hats–White, Black, Yellow, Red, Green, Blue–the Grey Hat is also the Senior Hat.
(Master Vincent van Gogh’s Self Portrait with Grey Hat, Paris, 1887)
EXPERIENCE + KNOWLEDGE = WISDOM
wisdom n. experience and knowledge together
with the power of applying them critically or practically
– Oxford English Dictionary
FROM BLACK TO GREY
is all about the escape
from judgmental thinking to wisdom.
Survival is clever and requires intelligence. Long term survival endows wisdom and this is a very clever thing, indeed
From the hard-won accomplishment of longevity emerges broad experience and special knowledge. It cannot be taught. It also offers a deep appreciation of the role that sheer random luck plays in long term survival.
My father was one of the wisest people I have ever known. He had a great deal of experience. In WWII he had served and survived in two theatres of war. He received a classical education, was widely read and had a great deal of knowledge and common sense. He was also very lucky. He survived bowel cancer, completely, and other narrow escapes. He’s used to say, “Nobody’s perfect”. How right he was!
Martin Joseph Hewitt-Gleeson – 15.11.1919 — 09.08.2003
The experience of surviving for a complete generation through childhood, adolescence and adulthood endows knowledge and perspective that a young brain simply cannot match.
To achieve 50 years of survival, through two or more generations, allows the brain to build a database of experience which offers a perspective of history, an understanding of long term consequences, a faculty for prediction and a wisdom that cannot be acquired in any other way. It takes half a century.
Grey Hat Thinking is the ability to see consequences, immediate, short term and long term. It is the ability to look back over history and to see forward into the future. To understand cycles, passages of time, the passing of fashions, eras, eons and the many possible futures including extinction, the possibility of no future at all.
My mentor, Professor George Gallup, was acknowledged worldwide as one of the greatest leaders of change. George was also a wonderful American gentleman and a very nice man. He was 84 when he died at his place in Switzerland in 1984.
He was the inventor of the Gallup Poll at Princeton and the designer of market research. He was the first to map the Human Meme Pool. George Gallup’s great personal wisdom was supported by his long experience of measuring, in scientific detail, the opinions of more people around the world than anyone else in history. In The Miracle Aheadhe wrote that: Change cannot be brought about easily by leaders, except in those situations in which the changes advocated do not disturb present relationships. In fact, it is the leaders who typically become the most bitter and the most effective foes of change. The public, therefore, must take the initiative and assume responsibility for progress in the affairs of man. The public must force change upon its leaders (who) command more respect today than perhaps they deserve… The leader is expert in his small world as it presently exists, not expert in the world as it might be. Although he plays an important role in modern society, it is not realistic to expect him to advocate change. This is the surest way for him to lose his status … The hope of the future rests with the citizen. To be effective, he must be well informed, and he must discover ways of making better use of his own great capacities and those of his fellow man. He cannot expect his leaders to give him much help in his upward march.
Grey Hat Thinking also means the wisdom to see other points of view. It includes the sagacity of patience to see beyond one’s own immediate viewpoint and the wisdom to see the viewpoints of others involved in situations: your partner’s viewpoint, your children’s, your children’s children, your neighbour’s, your customer’s, your enemy’s.
The wisdom of Grey Hat Thinking comes from long term survival.
Elizabeth II is the Queen of Australia. She says: “One of the features of growing old is a heightened awareness of change. To remember what happened 50 years ago means that it is possible to appreciate what has changed in the meantime. It also makes you aware of what has remained constant. In my experience, the positive value of a happy family is one of the factors of human existence that hasn’t changed. The immediate family of grandparents, parents and children together with their extended family is still the core of a thriving community. When Prince Philip and I celebrated our Diamond Wedding Anniversary last month we were much aware of the affection and support of our own family as they gathered around us for the occasion.”
It is the wisdom that emerges from the hard won, labour-intensive experience gained from having to solve life’s wide range of random and unexpected problems and having survived through multi-changing environments over several generations and for an extended period of time.
The long-term wisdom of Grey Hat Thinking may also be useful in raising one’s conciousness of Black Swans.
In The Black Swan, Hassim Nicholas Taleb shares his personal insight:
The other day, looking at my gray beard that makes me look ten years older than my true age, and the pleasure I derived from exhibiting it, I realized the following. Effectively, the respect for the elder in many societies might be compensation for our short-term memory. Senate come from senatus, aging in Latin; sheikh in Arabic means both member of the ruling elite and “elder”.
These people had to be repositories of more complicated inductive learning that included information about rare events —in a narrow evolutionary sense they can be deemed be useless since they are past their procreative age, so they have to offer some antidote to the turkey problem and prevent the less experienced members of the tribe from being suckers. In fact the elders can scare us with a story —which is why we become overexcited when we think of a specific Black Swan.
I was excited to find out that this also held in the animal domain: a paper in Science shows that elephant matriarch fill the role of super-advisors on rare events.
One of the well-known paradoxes of wisdom is expressed by Mark Twain’s admission: “When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years”.
Even though we may not be able to teach children to do Grey Hat Thinking we can still teach them to understand what it is–to recognise it–to appreciate it, to consult it, and to seek it our wherever it can be found.
“Wisdom, wrote Albert Einstein, “is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it … The attempt to combine wisdom and power has only rarely been successful and then only for a short while … How I wish that somewhere there existed an island for those who are wise and of goodwill! In such a place even I would be an ardent patriot.
NOTE: If you have any suggestions or comments on this topic, please post your ideas below and if your comment is included in the book you will be given appropriate attribution and a free copy of the book.
COMPERE: Do you hum a lot?
PROFESSOR JENNY GRAVES: Yes, I do.
COMPERE: Do you really?
PROFESSOR JENNY GRAVES: Has that got something to do with thinking?
COMPERE: I think so, yeah. What kind of humming do you do?
PROFESSOR JENNY GRAVES: Well, I am a singer so, you know, I have music in my head the whole time. And sometimes it comes out my mouth and sometimes it doesn’t, but it’s alway there.
COMPERE: Give us an example.
PROFESSOR JENNY GRAVES: [Laughs]
COMPERE: Hey I’ll pose a question to you seeing you are the Australian Thinker of the Year. Which is the other side of the road?
PROFESSOR JENNY GRAVES: The other side of the road, I am looking at it right now.
COMPERE: [Laughs] Is the grass always greener on the other side, Jen?
PROFESSOR JENNY GRAVES: Yes, I think so. Every horse knows that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence.
COMPERE: Ah, well, done. And now you’ll be going around Australia and everywhere you go now people would say, what do you think about this, Jen? And if you don’t have an answer you’ll be in strife.
PROFESSOR JENNY GRAVES: I’ll have to think of an answer, won’t I?
COMPERE: You will indeed. Congratulations.
TENPOWER: The Powers of Ten – How can I X10 this?
Tenpower is a measurement tool. Measurement is a very important skill for the brainuser to develop. It’s also a big help in finding a way out of our CVS.
For example, a BVS is a decimal of a CVS. A CVS is also a decimal of a BVS. In other words, they are related by powers of ten. Sometimes a BVS is ten times smaller than a CVS. Other times it is ten times greater.
The deliberate or habitual use of the number 10 is called Tenpower. Ten times better may be ten times more, or ten times less, or ten units forward or ten units back. It’s the deliberate use of tenpower as a provocation to get you to escape from your CVS.
Tenpower helps you to switch patterns of perception. That’s all. While it is not important that the number ten is accurately used, its use is a powerful escape mechanism. Take an X10 leap with tenpower.
“Google is a play on the word googol, which was coined by Milton Sirotta, nephew of American mathematician Edward Kasner, and was popularized in the book, Mathematics and the Imagination by Kasner and James Newman. It refers to the number represented by the numeral 1 followed by 100 zeros.
I first wrote about googols and googolplexes ten years ago in Software For Your Brain. This was the Third Edition of the book, published in Australia by Wrightbooks in 1997. The Chapter was called Tenpower.
UPDATE: The Australian Thinker of the Year 2007, Professor Jenny Graves, is featured in Nature Cover story on the 8th May, 2008 (Volume 453 Number 7192 pp133-256) …
“It’s probably the most eagerly awaited genome since the chimp genome because platypuses are so weird,” said Professor Jenny Graves of the Australian National University in Canberra. She is one of the co-authors of the study published in the scientific journal Nature.
“There was a fork in the road and the platypus went one way and humans and other placental mammals went another”, says the research leader Jenny Graves.
The ‘mammal lady’, who controversially claimed through her comparative genomics research that the male determining Y chromosome will become extinct, has been named Australian Thinker of the Year 2007.
The prestigious award, created by the School of Thinking in partnership with the Melbourne Exhibition and Convention Centre, is in its third year and was created to recognise the contribution Australian thinkers make globally.
This year’s winner, Professor Jenny Graves of The Australian National University (ANU) and Melbourne University, is one of Australia’s most influential scientists, renowned for her research into the function and evolution of human genes, particularly those responsible for determining a baby’s sex.Winner of the UNESCO Prize for Women in Science in 2006 and, in the same year, the Macfarlane Burnett Medal for Biology, Professor Graves is celebrated as a role model to women scientists and an inspiration to students of genetics.
But the now renowned scientist almost didn’t take on this line of work. She says she wasn’t interested in becoming ‘one of those Australians who end up working on the local fauna’.
“Over time it dawned on me that we have a genetic goldmine here; that kangaroos and platypus do things differently from placental mammals and that you can often figure out what the ancestral system was like from how the two systems differ.
“The genetic variation between such distantly related species is a very powerful way to discover new genes — in humans and all mammals — and figure out how they are turned on and off during development.”
She says it’s a career path she’s now very glad she ventured down. “Science is very exciting. It’s not easy but it’s incredibly exciting. It really grabs you and it doesn’t let you go. It’s a detective story and it’s an adventure story and you never know what’s going to happen next.”
Principal of the School of Thinking, Dr Michael Hewitt-Gleeson, says for a small country we “think way above our weight.”
“The School of Thinking has taught more people to think than any other school in history. The contribution Australian thinkers make globally is disproportionate to our relatively small number of 21 million brains out of 6.5 billion.”
Melbourne Exhibition and Convention Centre chief executive Leigh Harry says the MECC is delighted to be involved in assisting with such a significant accolade. “Melbourne is the thinking capital, and leaders in the scientific, medical and research fraternities both here and internationally are looking to us to hold major conventions and meetings, helped by our increasingly growing reputation in this area. This award just adds to that.”
– Australian Thinker of the Year 2006
Professor Graves joins Professor German Spangenberg who was last year’s Australian Thinker of the Year in recognition of his innovations in pasture plant genomics and innovations for the benefit of agriculture.
Just imagine you owned the world’s most powerful iPod which could easily store a library of over 10,000 songs. Now, imagine you posessed only one Patsy Cline CD to load and play on your iPod.
There’s nothing wrong with Patsy but a diet of I Fall To Pieces and Your Cheatin’ Heart limits your long term music entertainment.
Similar limitations apply to your necktop computer if you only possess one brain software–logic–available for you to use.
Logic is useful enough for basic mathematics, labelling and mail-sorting and dealing with the past but it’s not nearly enough to help you cope with life and the challenges of the future.
THREE QUESTIONS (Write month/year in boxes)
1. Do you have access to a laptop, palmtop or desktop personal computer? If so, estimate when was the last time you added or upgraded the software?
2. Do you have a sound system–a CD player, a vinyl turntable or an iPod/MP3 player? If so, when was the last time you added a CD or abum to your library, or some tracks to your playlist?
3. Do you have a necktop computer–a brain? Yes, you do. When was the last time you added or upgraded your neuroware or brain software?
THINK ABOUT THIS
If you were educated in the Western education system–Europe, the Americas, Australia etc–the brain software you are using, logic, is 2500 years old.
The logic operating system was developed by Socrates, Plato and Aristotle in Greece around 500 BCE. It was picked up by the Church via Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century and embedded in its education system which was then spread, with missionary zeal, around the world. The Western education system, with its RIGHT/WRONG logic brain software, may be Europe’s greatest historical export.