What makes up your mind?

What makes up your mind?

Dawn Smith's picture

Lots of good things come in fours.  The Beatles, the four-leaf clover, the four seasons…

And taking the seasons, it’s the four seasons which give us particular drama and beauty throughout our year.  Each season has its unique highlights. Some people love the crispy colours of autumnal leaves, others the subsequent snowdrops and snowmen, or the following spring blossoms; while others still will revel in the abundance of sunflowers and sunglasses.  Equally, they can each come with drawbacks. Some people avoid the gusts and gales of autumn, or suffer the winter chills and lack of sunlight; others the springtime hay fever or the sunburn and sweats of high summer. Importantly, in the UK at least, we don’t have to choose a favourite season. We live with the pros and cons of them all.

It’s the same with our minds.

We have four talents of the mind – talents which come to life when releasing untapped intelligence from information.

First, there’s our depth mind. This is the mind we’re in when analysing information in a detailed and deliberate way. It’s logical, evidence-based and led by reason.  It’s a great mind for us to be in when we want to be systematic, objective and provide traceable outputs.  There’s a downside though. If we only use our depth mind we can be rigid, reductionist, mostly rooted in the here and now and less able to deal with a future not predicted by the past.  

Secondly, there’s our link mind. This is the mind we’re in when we find ourselves making connections between one arena of life to another.  It’s when the mind draws comparisons and allows us to be inspired by ideas and learnings from a different industry or discipline.  It’s a fantastic mind for us to be in to shed fresh light on existing issues and find new ideas from diverse inspirations.  The downside if we only use our link mind is a risk of being overwhelmed, not knowing where to start and how to pick out the useful ideas amongst the range of possibilities.

Then there’s our expert mind. This is the mind we use to rapidly understand a situation. We do this by deploying everything we know about it in an instant; drawing on knowledge and information that’s deeply assimilated and accumulated over time through relevant past experience.  It’s a great mind for us to be in to make rapid judgements and use our expertise without starting from scratch.  The downside if we’re only in our expert mind is that we can be blind to a changing context when our expertise may no longer be relevant and prone to tunnel vision and false assumption.

Then finally, there’s our lateral mind. This is the mind we use to create new patterns and possibilities by making fresh connections between what often appear to be unconnected ideas.  We know we’re in this mind when we have the ‘ah ha!’ or light bulb moment of things suddenly coming together and falling into place in a flash.  It usually happens after a sustained period of mulling something over. It’s a perfect mind for us to be in when there is no precedent set for what we’re looking to do, or a fresh response is needed. The downside if we only use our lateral mind is that it can be somewhat unpredictable and we can’t always demand or rely on an ‘ah ha!’ moment happening.  

So it’s clear, each mind has great brilliance and great bias.  The good news is that we are built to be multi-minded - enabling us to overcome the biases of being too narrow minded, and allowing us to take the best talents of each.  When we bring the brilliance of our 4 minds together we are firing on all cylinders. This is exactly what we need to be doing to release more intelligence from the ever-increasing sea of information that keeps on rising around us - to create Intelligent Instinct.

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