Losing our Neurotic Mind thus Peace of Mind

“The empires of the future will be empires of the mind.”— Winston Churchill

In Five Minds for the Future (Harvard Business School Press, 2007), author and noted psychologist Howard Gardner says our mind — actually, minds — matters. We achieve greater professional success by learning how to think and learn in new ways.

Gardner, well known in psychological circles for his theory of multiple intelligences, believes five different kinds of minds are critical to remaining a highly prized asset in your organization, especially in times of economic cutbacks. Human capability, he asserts, cannot be reduced to a single metric: IQ.

According to Gardner, five cognitive capacities will be in great demand in the years ahead

  • The Disciplined Mind
  • The Synthesizing Mind
  • The Creating Mind
  • The Respectful Mind
  • The Ethical Mind

The Respectful Mind

The respectful mind responds sympathetically and constructively to differences among individuals and groups. Those with respectful minds work beyond mere tolerance and political correctness; they develop the capacity for forgiveness.

Human beings naturally band into groups — and as soon as such groups form, members start to dislike one another. This pattern appears repeatedly in humans and other primates, for that matter.

Group members bond and define themselves relative to “outgroups,” which are typically characterized as inferior, dangerous or subhuman. Explanations for this tendency abound, with different scientific frameworks emerging over decades of exploration.

Currently, many look to evolutionary psychology for an explanation, though this sociobiological story is probably far too simple. Whatever the reason for outgroups, we must overcome our tendency to create them. With modern weapons, we make the world a dangerous place.

The solution is a relatively simple one: Cultivate respect for others. And while it does, indeed, seem like a tenet of Kindergarten 101, it is much harder to achieve. Teaching respectfulness in school is certainly a promising means of fostering tolerance, and many schools put it into practice by requiring students of various backgrounds to work on joint projects with shared goals. With this kind of foundation, students can continue to cultivate tolerance and respect when they graduate to the workplace and political realm.