April 22nd, 2014 // 3:32 pm @ Oliver DeMille
Two Different Americas
Those who don’t understand the language of metaphor are falling behind in the widening gap that is the global economy. They are watching their family’s standard of living decrease over the decades.
This trend will only increase in the years ahead.
Those with a quality education learn to think, to readily see symbolism wherever it is found. But most Americans and Westerners are part of the literal class—symbolism is often lost on them.
They tend to see things without the metaphor.
For example, last year a long debate raged on social media about whether or not The Hunger Games trilogy was good or bad reading for youth. The most interesting thing about this debate wasn’t the arguments made by either side, but the fact that symbolism was hardly ever part of the debate.
But the symbolism is glaring: A nation sacrifices its helpless children for the convenience, entertainment, and libertine moral values of the urban upper class, while government, media, and big wealth combine to keep their control over the outlying, rural people dedicated to “archaic” family values.
What could be a closer parallel to our modern society? And what metaphor could ever more clearly point out the hypocrisy of the American cosmopolitan class and its views on abortion?
What Was Missed
To anyone trained in symbolism, the metaphor is obvious. We watch children killed for the convenience and political values of the elite class. And note that in The Hunger Games the urban classes have collectivist economic views combined with libertine moral values—the same as those in the real world who support Roe v. Wade and easy abortion laws in modern America.
This is blatant symbolism, but only the upper classes really understood this.
In fact, some of the most vocal voices declaring that The Hunger Games books and movies are inappropriate for youth came from people who are strongly against abortion.
They just didn’t understand that The Hunger Games was probably the biggest, best, and most popular anti-abortion movie ever. This was entirely lost on the literal classes.
When the ruling classes understand literal and symbolic language, while the masses only understand the literal, freedom is in decline and the power of the ruling classes will only increase.
This was true in Shakespeare’s day, in the time of Virgil, and when the Psalms and Proverbs were written.
The elite classes, steeped in the classics and great books that teach readers how to think (especially symbolically), are always going to rule over the literal classes whose education is limited to getting the “right” answers, preparing for jobs and careers, and not really thinking about things symbolically.
Allan Bloom warned that modern America has this problem at the level of Hitler’s Germany.
The Real Fascination
Another example: People in the literal classes can’t quite understand why today’s youth are so intrigued by vampire books, movies, and television programs. “What is this fascination with vampires?” the literal classes ask.
The elite classes, well-versed in metaphor and symbolism, know better. They understand that vampires are symbols of something—something many young people struggle with.
Imagine a society made up of two major groups. First are the hard-working, regular people who live in middle-class neighborhoods, go to work every day, raise families, sleep during the night (because they have to go to their job tomorrow), send their kids to school in order to get a good career in their adult lives, etc.
The second group in society is made up of a few people who have trust funds, inherited wealth, can get in trouble with the law but get out of it relatively easily, stay up through the night at fancy balls and dinners, then go home in the early morning and sleep late into the day, and have more power, wealth, fun and entertaining lives, and sophisticated connections with other aristocrats far beyond the local community—and even around the world.
The first group envies the second, while the aristocratic second group hardly gives a thought to their “inferiors.” Parents of both groups warn their children not to mix with the other group—because it inevitably causes many problems.
This clearly defines two things: 1) an aristocratic society, like all elite societies that have existed in human history, and 2) every group of vampires portrayed in literature, juvenile fiction, and in movies and TV programs.
But the literal classes mostly miss this symbolism. “Why do the kids like vampires?” the literal classes ask.
Some literal writers even try to explain how youth like to be scared, so they love the idea of biting strangers dressed in black. So literal. So shallow.
Answer: The kids don’t love actual vampires, they love the idea of rising into a higher class. In high school, this is a driving passion for many teenagers. If movies are to be believed, it’s the driving theme for most students in most high schools.
In such an environment, vampires are the shortcut to social success. If one bites you (dates you, likes you, includes you in his group, etc.) you immediately climb to a higher social class. The highest social class, in fact.
The one that has the money, the power, the mystery, and the worldwide connections (rather than the homegrown limits of the coal mines, a job at Blue Bell’s Rammer Jammer, or a lifetime of alumni fundraising for the Friday Night Lights).
The fact that many parents tell you to ignore the vampires (“Don’t worry about high school cliques, or being popular. It won’t even matter after you graduate.”) just adds to the intrigue.
Vampires are aristocrats. Elites. People with enough money, power and connections to ignore the limits most people and families struggle with—as youth, and also as adults.
The kids instinctively understand this, though their literal parents may not.
The Old Tool
This language barrier isn’t new.
In aristocratic Britain, the upper classes pronounced words differently than the lower and working classes—so elites would always know who they were dealing with. In fact, the pronunciations were literal (pronounce every syllable) versus symbolic (skip syllables, if you’ve been trained by other aristos and know what to look for).
For example, the word Worchester was pronounced “wor-ches-ter” by the lower classes, but simply “wis-ter” by the nobles. Or the name St. John was pronounced “Saint John” by working classes but “Sinjin” by nobility (see Jane Eyre). There are thousands of similar words.
This boils down to two classes, the Literal versus Symbolic. Checkers versus Chess. “Tell me the right answer, so you can pass the test and someday get a good job,” versus “Tell me your opinion, because there are many possible correct answers, and our purpose is to help you learn how to think—so you can become a leader.”
These are how public schools versus elite prep schools, respectively, generally teach.
The Price of the Literal
Facts versus Metaphor. Precision versus Imagery. One Meaning versus Poetic Allegory.
Again, the elite classes are well educated in both of these dialects. The problem is that the middle and lower classes are not. They only know the literal meanings of words.
This is a growing concern, because it causes increased divisions between the elites and the regular people. The masses don’t understand what is happening to their society, because they don’t speak the language of metaphor. When President Obama promised, “If you want to keep your doctor [under Obamacare], you can keep your doctor,” the two classes heard very different things.
The literal classes heard: “If you want to keep your doctor, you can keep your doctor.” Hearing this, they planned their family and business finances and voted accordingly.
The symbolic classes, trained in metaphor, heard the following: “If you want to keep your doctor, you can keep your doctor, or at least one that is just as good; or, even if you can’t keep your doctor under the new plan, the nation will be better off, so it’s worth the change anyway.”
The symbolic class knows that political promises are rhetoric, meant to win elections—not meant to actually, literally be fulfilled. The literal class is slowly realizing that this is the case, but they still feel lied to by each new candidate. In reality, they just don’t understand metaphorical language.
A teacher I know once shared the following quote by Groucho Marx with her class: “Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend; inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.” One student was very frustrated with this little proverb. When questioned, the student said emotionally, “This is so cruel to dogs. Why would anyone want to read inside of a dog?”
When the literal class doesn’t easily and immediately understand symbolism, it will lose its freedoms to the elite ruling class that does.
The Missed Symbols
I wonder what people will say about the book and movie popularity of Divergent. It is a great symbolic attack on the modern public school system and the way we choose careers and jobs in the U.S., Canada, and Europe—but I bet there will be a number of homeschoolers, charter school and non-traditional educators and parents who miss some key points.
First: this is not a book for youth; the intermittent suggested sensuality that is predictable and “natural” for youth in crisis who depend upon each other without family support is not suitable for most youth.
Second: this book is for adults, and it may be the best promotion for homeschooling and other cutting-edge, new educational choices since…well, ever.
If non-traditional education seizes this opportunity, there will be a lot of support for Divergent, because people will understand its symbolism: Each person is different, and each person has unique genius inside.
The purpose of education is to help each student discover and develop his or her inner genius and passion, and use it to improve and serve the world. When the focus is on making every child fit in, it’s not education at all. At best it’s training, at worst brainwashing.
This is the overarching message of Divergent—but will it be lost on the literal class? I hope not.
We all can benefit from including more symbolic thinking in our reading. It’s like a new mantra for 21st Century leadership: Read more, think more, serve more. And look for symbols and metaphor in everything you read.
Oliver DeMille is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling co-author of LeaderShift: A Call for Americans to Finally Stand Up and Lead, the co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.
Among many other works, he is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, The Coming Aristocracy, and FreedomShift: 3 Choices to Reclaim America’s Destiny.
Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.
June 7th, 2012 // 6:51 pm @ Oliver DeMille
Then came the rise of dominant government and its attempts to control all.
In the Western world, religion and science were seen as the tools of power.
Sides were taken, and conflicts ensued. Left out of the battle, art developed in the shadows.
In the Orient, a different reality evolved.
Art and religion were considered the great centers of power, and so the lines were drawn and battles came.
Science, once at the forefront of Eastern culture, took a back seat. It grew, but behind the scenes.
By the early 21st Century, at least from the perspective of government power, science had become technology and art had become symbol.
Today the globe is increasingly divided between East and West.
A world is growing around China, encompassing the Orient and also much of the Middle East and Africa.
Another world is centered around the United States and includes most of Europe and the two American continents.
Russia and India have yet to take sides, and Japan is caught between its natural philosophical and geographical sides.
These two worlds have been based on the battle between religion and science in the West and the clash between art and religion in the East.
Ironically, the growing conflict between the two worlds coincides with the rise of each culture’s historical shadows—put succinctly, if the battle comes down to technology the East will win and if it comes down to symbolism the West will be victorious.
Tocqueville predicted in the 1830s that the world was destined to be divided by the followers of Russia and the allies of the United States.
He said that if the battle came down to military conflict Russia would win but if it came down to economics the United States would prevail.
Today, we can see the rise of China and the U.S. in similar terms.
But the idea that China will triumph if the battle is technological while the U.S. will succeed in a symbolic challenge seems counter-intuitive. After all, China is struggling to catch up with the U.S. in things technological and China has millennia of experience mastering symbol.
Still, it isn’t old sources of power that win new conflicts. Innovative power takes the day, and the battle of the 21st Century is lining up to be innovative technology versus innovative symbolism.
Ultimately, it all comes down to leadership. Vision. Creativity. Initiative. Ingenuity. Tenacity. Resiliency. Impact. Hope. Inspiration.
China and its associates will likely fight for its global interests using overwhelming centralized state technological might.
America and allies will push for a democratic world utilizing the massive power of the greatest ideas—chief among them freedom.
Both sides will use both technology and symbol, just like both Russia and the U.S. emphasized both military and economic strength.
But ultimately symbol must overcome centralized might.
The future of world freedom and prosperity depend on it.
Hopefully, the history of this century will not unfold this way, but currently the trends are heading in this direction.
The battle has already begun, and China is aggressively pursuing this course while the U.S. stagnating in a rut of decline.
The sooner America gets its act together, the better.
(An excellent book on how to add symbolic thinking to our analytical world is A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink.)
He is the co-author of New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestseller LeaderShift, and author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, and The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.
Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.
July 6th, 2011 // 9:40 am @ Oliver DeMille
One reason freedom is threatened with serious decline in our time is that metaphor is often missing among those who love liberty.
Our modern educational system has taught most of us to focus on the literal, to separate the fields of knowledge, to learn topics as if they are fundamentally detached from each other, and to build areas of expertise and career around disconnected specialties.
We are even encouraged to separate the various parts of our life—not only math class from English class or gym from history, but also school from family, work from private lives, spouse from child relationships, family from friend relationships, religion from politics, career from entertainment.
Most children and parents leave home in the morning to spend time at school, work and other separate activities—ultimately spending less time with each other than with people outside the family. Anything less than such separation of the various parts of our lives is considered unhealthy by many experts.
Thus it is not surprising that the use of metaphor is often missed in our modern world. We seem to be a nation of literalists now. We understand allegory, comparison, contrast, simile and even imagery, as long as the comparisons are patently apparent or clearly spelled out. Metaphor?—not so much.
There are many exceptions to this, of course, but such literalism is increasingly the norm. Symbol is and will always be important, but the artistic, understated, abstract and poetic is out of vogue in many circles that promote freedom.
Stay Out of Politics
Consider, for example, the way some conservative radio talk-show hosts rant against Hollywood actors or best-selling singers speaking out on political themes. The argument in such cases usually centers on the idea that actors/performers have no business opining on political topics—that, in fact, they know little about such things and should stick to their areas of expertise.
At one level, this assumes that the actors’ roles as citizens are trumped by their careers. Ironically, such talk-show hosts usually give great credence to the voices of regular citizens as part of their daily fare—as long as the citizens tend to agree with the host. Likewise, such hosts frequently seek credibility by bringing like-minded celebrities to their show. Note that this is a favorite tact of media in general—television as well as radio, liberal as well as conservative.
At another level, the idea that actors or other artists are simply entertainers rather than vitally important social commentators misses the deep reality of the historical role of art. Artists are as important to social-political-economic commentary as journalists, scientists, the professorate, clergymen, economists, the political parties or other public policy professionals.
Napoleon is sometimes credited with saying that if he could control the music or story-telling of the nation he would happily let the rest of the media print what it wanted: “A picture is worth a thousand words.” (Or more literally, “a good sketch is better than a long speech.”)
Those who think artists are, or should be, irrelevant to the Great Conversation might consider such artists as Harriet Beecher Stowe, Nietzsche, Goya, Picasso, Goethe, Ayn Rand, C.S. Lewis or George Orwell. Can one really argue that Ronald Reagan, Charleston Heston, Tina Fey, Jon Stewart, Aaron Sorkin or the writers of Law and Order have had only a minor impact on society and government?
Artists should have a say on governance–first because all citizens should have a say, and second because the fundamental role of the artist is not to entertain (this is a secondary goal) but to use art to comment on society and seek to improve it where possible. The problem with celebrity, some would argue, is that many times the public gives more credence to artists than to others who really do understand an issue better. This is a legitimate argument, but it tends to support media types rather than the citizenry.
Early American Art
On an even deeper level, art is not just the arena of artists. Tocqueville found it interesting that in early America there were few celebrity artists– but that most of the citizens personally took part in artistic endeavors and tended to think artistically.
Another way to say this is that they thought metaphorically in the broad sense:
- They clearly saw the connections between fields of knowledge and the application of ideas in one arena to many others
- They understood the interrelations of disparate ideas without having to literally spell things out
- They immediately applied the stories and lessons of history, art and literature to current challenges
Another major characteristic Tocqueville noted in early American culture was its entrepreneurial spirit, initiative, ingenuity and widespread leadership—especially in the colonial North and West, but not nearly so much in the brutal, aristocratic, slave-culture South of the 1830s.
Freedom and entrepreneurialism are natural allies, as are creative, metaphorical thinking and effective initiative and wise risk-taking.
I’ve already written about the great on-going modern battle between innovation and conformity (“The Clash of Two Cultures”), which could be called metaphorical thinking versus rote literalism:
In far too many cases, we kill the human spirit with rules of bureaucratic conformity and then lament the lack of creativity, innovation, initiative and growth. We are angry with companies which take jobs abroad, but refuse to become the kind of employees that would guarantee their stay. We beg our political leaders to fix things, but don’t take initiative to build enough entrepreneurial solutions that are profitable and impactful.
The future belongs to those who buck these trends. These are the innovators, the entrepreneurs, the creators, what Chris Brady has called the Rascals. We need more of them. Of course, not every innovation works and not every entrepreneur succeeds, but without more of them our society will surely decline. Listening to some politicians in Washington, from both parties, it would appear we are on the verge of a new era of conformity: “Better regulations will fix everything,” they affirm.
The opposite is true. Unless we create and embrace a new era of innovation, we will watch American power decline along with numbers of people employed and the prosperity of our middle and lower classes. So next time your son, daughter, employee or colleague comes to you with an exciting idea or innovation, bite your tongue before you snap them back to conformity.
Innovation vs. Conformity
Metaphor gets to the root of this war between innovation and conformity. The habit of thinking in creative, new and imaginative ways is central to being inventive, resourceful and innovative.
Note that all of these words are synonyms of “productive” and ultimately of “progressive.” If we want progress, we must have innovation, and innovation requires imagination. Few things spark creativity, imagination or inspiration like metaphor.
If we want to see a significant increase in freedom in the long term, we’ll first need to witness a resurrection of metaphorical thinking. This is one reason the great classics are vital to the education of free people. The classics were mostly written by authors who read widely and thought deeply about many topics, and even more importantly most readers of classics study beyond narrow academic divisions of knowledge and apply ideas across the board.
In contrast, modern movie and television watchers, fantasy novel or technical manual readers, and internet surfers don’t tend to routinely correlate the messages of entertainment into their daily careers. There are certainly deep, profound, classic-worthy ideas in our contemporary movies, novels, and online. But only a few of the customers watch, read or surf in the classic way—consistently seeking lessons and wisdom to be applied to serious personal and world challenges.
Only a few moderns end each day’s activities with correspondence and debate about the movies, books and websites they’ve experienced with other deep-thinking readers who have “studied” the same sources. Facebook can be used in this way, but it seldom is.
Alvin Toffler called this the “Information Age” rather than the Wisdom Age for this reason—we have so much information at our fingertips, but too little wise discussion of applicable ideas. As Allan Bloom put it in The Closing of the American Mind, people don’t think together as much they used to. Even formal students in most classes engage less in open dialogue and debate than in passive note-taking and solitary memorizing.
All of this is connected with the decline of metaphorical thinking. The point of education in the old Oxford model of learning (read great classics, discuss the great works with tutors who have read them many times and also with other students who are new to the books, show your proficiency in creative thinking in front of oral boards of questioners) was to teach deep, broad, effective metaphorical thinking.
Such skills could accurately be called leadership thinking, and generations of Americans followed the same model (until the late 1930s) of reading and deeply discussing the greatest works of mankind in all fields of knowledge. Note that thinking in metaphor naturally includes literal thinking– but not vice versa.
This style of learning centered on the student’s ability to see through the literal and understand all the potential hidden, deeper, abstract, correlated and metaphorical meanings in things. Such education trained people to think through—and see through—the promises, policies and proposals of their elected officials, expert economists, and other specialists, and to make the final decisions as a wise electorate not prone to fads, media spin or partisan propaganda.
A New Monument
As a society understands metaphor, it understands politics. This is a truism worth chiseling into marble. When the upper class understands metaphor while the masses require literality, freedom declines.
The surest way to understand metaphor is to read literature and history and think about it deeply, especially about how it applies to modern realities (which is why classrooms were once dedicated to discussion about important books, as mentioned above).
This is why the university phrase “I majored in literature, science, or history” is a middle-class expression while the upper class prefers to say, “I read literature, science, or history at X University.”
The differences here are striking: the upper class never believes it has actually “majored” a topic, while the middle class can seldom claim to have seriously “read” all the great works in any important academic field.
This fundamental difference in education remains a cause of the widening gap between upper and middle class. Indeed, education is a major determining factor of the contemporary (and historical) class divide. It is the ability to think metaphorically (to in fact consider everything both literally and metaphorically) and to automatically seek out and consider the various potential meanings of all things, that most separates the culture of the “haves” from the global “have-nots.”
The Ideology Barrier
In politics, the far left and far right—including, most notably right now, the environmental movement and the tea parties—significantly limit their own growth by staying too literal.
This comes across to most Americans as ineffectively rigid, intolerant, naïve, and even ideological.
The fact that most environmentalists and tea partiers are genuinely passionate and sincere is not a plus in the eyes of many people as long as such activists are seen to be humorless and even angry.
Such activists may not in fact be humorless and angry, but when they seem to be these things, they diminish their ability to build rapport with anyone that does not already understand their point of view.
Feminism once carried these same negatives, but recently gained more mainstream understanding once feminist thinkers moved past literality and used art and entertainment to gain positive support. The gay-lesbian community made the same transition in the past two decades, and environmentalism is starting to make this shift as well (witness the recent hubbub over Cars III).
Whether you agree or disagree with these political movements is not the point; they gain mainstream support by portraying themselves as relaxed, happy, caring and likeable people, and by sharing their principles by telling a story.
False Starts, or, Failed Expectations
President Bush attempted to effect such a change in the Republican Party with his emphasis on Compassionate Conservatism, but this theme disappeared after 9/11.
President Obama exuded this relaxed optimism through the 2008 campaign and several months into his presidency, becoming a symbol of change and leadership to America’s youth (who hadn’t had a real political hero since Ronald Reagan). The president’s cult-hero status disappeared when the Obama Administration’s literality (not liberality) was eventually interpreted as robotic, smug and even defensive.
The White House’s big-spending agenda in 2009-2010, coming on the heels of over seven years of Republican-led overspending, sparked a tea party revolt. It also drove most independents to the right, not because they supported right-wing policies but rather because independents tend to understand metaphor: they saw that the Obama agenda was primarily about bigger government and only secondarily about real change.
To put this as literally as possible, President Obama desired lasting change in Washington, but he cared even more about certain policies which required massive government spending.
There are true supporters of real freedom on all sides of the political table: Democratic, Republican, independent, blue, red, green, tea party, etc. They would all do well to spread deep, quality, creative, artistic and metaphorical thinking in our society.
As Lord Brougham taught:
“Education makes a people easy to lead, but difficult to drive; easy to govern, but impossible to enslave.”
He was speaking not of modern specialized job training but of reading the greatest books of mankind. Leaders are readers, and so are free nations.
Symbolism, Nuance and the Deficits of Literalism
As long as metaphor is missing in our dialogue—not to mention much in our prevailing educational offerings—the people will be continually frustrated by their political leaders.
Campaigns succeed through symbolism, especially metaphor, while daily governance naturally requires a major dose of literalism. Sometimes a significant crisis swings the nation into a period of metaphor, but this mood seldom lasts much longer than the crisis itself.
The most effective leaders (e.g. Washington, Jackson, Lincoln, the Roosevelts and Reagan) are able to communicate a metaphor of American grand purpose even while they govern literally. For example, the Jeffersonian “era” lasted for decades beyond his term of office, building on the American mind captured by the metaphor of freedom; John Adams’ literalism hardly carried him through his one term.
While some of this is the responsibility of the leader, it is ultimately the duty of the people to think in metaphor and understand the big themes and hidden nuances behind government proposals and policies.
In this regard, groups such as environmentalists and tea parties seem to really understand the major trends and are courageously making their voice heard. Unfortunately for their goals, they have yet to effectively present their messages using metaphor. People tend to see them, as mentioned above, as humorless, angry and ideologically rigid.
The irony is rich, because most Americans actually support both a higher level of environmental consciousness and a major increase of government fiscal responsibility. In literal terms, many Americans agree with a large number of green and tea party proposals even as they say they dislike the “environmentalists” and the “tea parties.”
Again, the problem is that these groups tend to emphasize only the literal.
Such examples may be interesting, but the real problem for the future of American freedom is a populace that doesn’t naturally think through everything in a metaphorical way.
A free society only stays as free—and as prosperous—as its electorate allows.
When a nation has been educated to separate its thinking, it tends to be easily swayed by an upper class that understands and uses metaphor—in politics, economics, marketing, media, and numerous walks of life. It becomes subtly enslaved to experts, because, quite simply, it believes what the experts say.
Alternate Timeline of Literalism
If the American founding generation had so believed the experts, it would have stuck with Britain, would never have bothered reading the Federalist Papers, and would have left governance to the upper class.
The capitol would probably be New York City, and the middle class would have remained small. We would be a more aristocratic society, with an entirely different set of laws for the wealthy than the rest.
Such forays into theoretical history are hardly provable, but one thing is clear: American greatness is soundly based on a citizenry that thought independently, creatively, innovatively and metaphorically. The educational system encouraged such thinking, and adult discourse continued it throughout the citizen’s life.
Great education teaches one to listen to the experts, and to then take one’s own counsel on the important decisions.
Indeed, such education prepares the adult to weigh the words of experts and all other sources of knowledge and then to choose wisely.
Sit in chair; open book. Read.
Metaphor matters. Metaphorical thinking is vital to freedom. The classics are the richest vein of metaphorical and literal thinking.
Every nation that has maintained real freedom has been a nation of readers—readers of the great books. Freedom is in decline precisely because reading the great classics is in decline. Fortunately, every regular citizen can easily do something to fix this problem.
The books are on our shelves.
For more on this topic, listen to “The Freedom Crisis.”
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He is the co-author of the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestseller LeaderShift, and author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, and The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.
Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.
September 27th, 2010 // 4:00 am @ Oliver DeMille
Howard Gardner’s research suggests that there are fundamentally seven basic intelligences: literary, mathematical, artistic, musical, spatial, interpersonal and intrapersonal.
Modern education tends to emphasize basic knowledge in three of these (literary, mathematical and interpersonal) fields followed by career specialization in one.
During the American founding era that produced a generation of citizen-farmers and citizen-entrepreneurs who established the freest society in history, a different sort of education-career path dominated.
Today’s professionals and experts tend to be trained in problem solving under structured guidelines, whereas successful entrepreneurs seldom have the luxury of easily knowing what the problems are.
They have to figure out what the real issues are and define the problems, and only then find ways to solve problems and overcome roadblocks.
This requires high levels of initiative and resiliency, independent and analytical thinking, ingenuity and creative thinking, tenacity and self-analysis.
These entrepreneurial skills and talents are precisely those needed to establish and maintain freedom.
To prepare youth for success in entrepreneurial (and free) cultures, education tends to emphasize originality, creativity, breadth, depth and leadership skills rather than rote memorization, standardized curricula or socialization.
The latter skill set is vital in societies with strong upper classes employing the lower castes, but the former is essential to free democratic nations.
Where class societies tend to educate for general knowledge in literary, mathematical and interpersonal skills, entrepreneurial nations educate for depth in literary, mathematical, interpersonal, artistic, musical, spatial and intrapersonal (self-understanding, self-discipline, and self-starting) excellence.
Then entrepreneurial societies go a step further by educating to the hyphens.
This means using personalized and mentored learning in the greatest classics and works of mankind along with current original sources to establish skills and train experts in multi-intelligence categories.
Examples include many who used two or more intelligences to significantly impact societies, cultures, paradigms, governments, policies and worldviews:
- Interpersonal-musicians like Mozart and John Lennon
- Literary-artists such as Goya, Cecil B. DeMille, and M. Night Shyamalan
- Interpersonal-literati like Shakespeare, Jane Austen, and John Steinbeck
- Spatial-artistry like gladiators, NASCAR, and the Louvre
- Mathematical-artists like Michelangelo and Picasso
- Literary-mathematicians like Newton, Einstein, and Hawking
- Literary-intrapersonalists such as Tolstoy, Harriet Beecher Stowe, William Goulding and Ayn Rand
- Intrapersonal-mathematical thinkers like Montesquieu, Hume, Madison, Mises, Keynes, C.S. Lewis, and Buckminster Fuller
To make sense of this, consider a society where the youth become proficient in reading biographies of great leaders from Socrates to Washington and Andrew Carnegie to Ray Kroc and of effectively applying the lessons learned to their own lives.
Or where every young person knows both the formulas in calculus and also how to build and implement a business plan, including detailed financials, to turn “thin air” into great institutions of profit and non-profit value in society.
The lessons of such expertise naturally impact the prosperity and freedom of a society.
And such lessons come from depth in many of the intelligences instead of general education in only three and a specialty in just one.
Such widespread competency in reading, writing, persuading, leading, calculating, comparing, analyzing, thinking, creating, beautifying, composing, building, interacting, initiating, overcoming, enduring, changing, improving, motivating, self-starting, self-disciplining, self-guiding, teamwork, leading and serving are what the American founders idealized as quality education.
These are the necessary skills of successful entrepreneurship and also of societal freedom.
This level of education and expertise is developed by what Ken Wilber calls the Big Three of Buddhism: Buddha, Sangha and Dharma.
“Buddha” in this sense means combining one’s purpose or mission in life with developing oneself into a true and great servant of society.
The Greeks called this Fate and the American founders called it Providence.
By seeking to be guided by higher powers and higher purposes, a person becomes her best and as such greatly improves society through her efforts and contributions.
Buddha is credited with saying that “Our purpose in life is to find our purpose in life and then give our whole heart and soul to it.”
Sangha is one’s community, gathering, group or team. Working together with the right people, “we” do more than “I” ever could.
Good teams are diverse, individualistic, cooperative and united toward the same goals. They achieve most when they operate at peak levels.
Dharma is the truth, the true, the ideal. Dharma helps us know why we are here, what we are about, and therefore who we really are.
But Dharma is not about “I” or “We.” Rather it is about what we accomplish: the goal, the objective, the positive change we bring to the world through our best efforts and service.
In Christianity this is the Christian walk, the anointed purpose, the path.
Christianity’s equivalent of Sangha is the Church, and “Buddha” is the submission to Christ and His will.
Plato and secularists call these big three the good, the beautiful and the true, and psychology calls them the “I, We and It”—Buddha, Sangha and Dharma respectively.
In American politics these are citizen, the Constitution and freedom.
The lesson for education is that great learning is:
- Best achieved in interactive groups with mentors, peers, discussions, feedback and group projects
Again, the very skills and abilities created by this model are exactly those most needed in free society. Without them, entrepreneurial prosperity and political freedom decline.
Where the Greeks and moderns tend to break human personality into four dominant groups, symbolized by animals or colors or other models, the Old Testament emphasized twelve types and the New Testament adopted thirteen.
One of the most unique and profound systems of personality typing is the Enneagram.
The Enneagram was created by Muslims from the Sufi tradition, and is now popular in many multi-level and network marking circles.
Its nine types of people are distinct, deep and tend to resonate with nearly all readers. The nine types are essentially as follows:
- Reformer: principled, purposeful, self-controlled and perfectionistic
- Helper: demonstrative, generous, people-pleasing, and possessive
- Achiever: adaptive, excelling, driven, and image-conscious
- Individualist: expressive, dramatic, self-absorbed, and temperamental
- Investigator: perceptive, innovative, secretive, and isolated
- Loyalist: engaging, responsible, anxious, and suspicious
- Enthusiast: spontaneous, versatile, distractible, and scattered
- Challenger: self-confident, decisive, willful, and confrontational
- Peacemaker: receptive, reassuring, agreeable, and complacent
Of course, there is a lot more depth to this in the many volumes which describe it.
Interestingly, in traditional business the typical use of the Enneagram and other personality types like the Myers-Briggs is to help managers interact more effectively with their employees — and vice versa.
Teachers often use it to better understand and work with their students.
In entrepreneurial environments, however, the focus is quite different.
This can be understood in the following three steps:
- Understand your own top strengths so you can give them a lot more energy and greatly improve them.
- Identify those types on which you score at the mid levels, so you can develop them into strengths.
- Clarify where you are weak and team up with people who are extremely strong in these areas.
This flies directly in the face of much educational/career theory from the past half century, where the system has generally been satisfied with grade-level performance in a given subject, and focused special attention on the students’ weaknesses.
By contrast, teachers governed by entrepreneurial values in the classroom would have children spend much more time on their strengths than their weaknesses.
Those scoring high in math, for example, would take a lot more math than other students and in fact study math at the highest levels in special courses designed just for such students. The same would occur in all fields.
Teachers would also divide students learning to read, for example, not by levels but into teams where each team would include students from low, medium and high reading levels.
Corporate architecture would combine mail carriers, board members and everyone in between in adjacent offices and co-mingle everyone on all floors.
This, by the way, is how nearly all entrepreneurial ventures and small businesses actually do things.
The consequences in society and governance are huge. Indeed, this is exactly the model of citizens and voters that America’s founders had in mind—all types of people mingled together, each equal as a citizen and before the law.
Freedom is the natural result.
And on the skills of applying such a model, small business leaders and entrepreneurs are years ahead of the rest of society.
The point is not, as most entrepreneurs will tell you, to turn things over to entrepreneurs or any other group of citizens. Such a plan would only create another style of class system.
The real solution is to have a lot more entrepreneurs in society. In the long term, this is achieved by giving America’s youth a true Leadership Education and naturally letting our society benefit as more entrepreneurs arise.
A quicker solution would be set in motion by simply de-regulating small businesses.
IQ vs. EQ
For a long time America used IQ as the measure of intelligence as well as a predictor of academic and career success.
IQ tests measured literary, mathematical and spatial intelligence, but little else. They basically ignored the other intelligences.
Daniel Goleman’s best-seller, Emotional Intelligence, showed how managers could become better leaders by also developing interpersonal, intrapersonal, and more artistic skills. He argued that EQ (emotional intelligence) is just as important as IQ.
Pop culture tends to summarize these two as right brain (EQ) and left brain (IQ).
In this view, left-brain experts, professionals and executives have significantly different skill sets than right-brain artists, creative types and motivators.
It is all about the intellect versus the emotions, in society and in each of our personal lives.
The IQ monopoly resulted in many business authors writing that being too intelligent is not good for business, since many with a very high IQ were hired by mid-IQ bosses.
EQ shed some light on the situation, showing that successful entrepreneurship and innovation tend to blossom where analytical and creative skills are balanced.
High IQ with significantly lower EQ, or vice versa, tend a person toward specialized employment. Where right and left brain are generally equal, be it high or middle or even relatively low, initiative, risk, tenacity and leadership often flourish.
In short, many jobs require certain levels of IQ or EQ, but successful entrepreneurs either naturally have a balance of both or must develop one.
The old view that IQ can’t be increased is being replaced as we see many people who clearly break old barriers and disprove the experts.
Entrepreneurial success usually requires deep understanding of and skills in many of the basic intelligences.
General education courses in three of them and specialization in only one simply doesn’t work in the challenging real world of entrepreneurial competition.
Nor, for that matter, is it adequate to maintain freedom.
Eco vs. Ego
For years American politics has been dominated by two parties, one emphasizing success and the other nurture.
This battle of Ego versus Eco still drives most national debates.
Where one party is driven toward wealth, fame and progress, the other prefers to promote caring, service and acceptance.
One is self-centered and the other is inclusive. One sees private life as the highest good and the other wants government to solve all problems in society.
One prioritizes national security above all else and the other idealizes social justice.
More Americans now consider themselves independents, rather than loyal to either major political party, in part because we have reached a point where the majority of the nation’s citizens consider both Ego and Eco to be vital.
This has been the norm for entrepreneurs for many years. Indeed, entrepreneurs who try to put one above the other seldom succeed for long.
Small and entrepreneurial business leaders learn that both caring and drive are necessary.
The same is true of citizens who want to remain free. Indeed, the most important entrepreneurial skills and lessons are those most needed to promote free society.
Freedom is best supported by excellence and compassion, self-improvement and service, building wealth and taking care of other people and the earth.
Freedom requires a balance of analysis and creativity, intellect and emotion, wisdom and intuition, reflection and action.
Free societies are intelligent societies, because the broad citizenry must understand and protect its freedoms or it will lose them.
But a society cannot remain free by following a few geniuses at the top — this always destroys liberty.
The most prosperous and free civilizations are those where the majority of people develop and share their best personal genius.
Everyone has genius inside, and it is the purpose of Leadership Education to reveal it and help people develop it.
Career is the place where genius is then shared to benefit and improve the world. Finally, it is the purpose of free society to allow all to fully achieve and share their genius.
Entrepreneurial activity naturally seeks these peaks and balances. This isn’t new; it was the reality during the American founding and has been ever since.
The future will be no different. We all need to learn and apply this truism: However small business goes, so goes the nation.
September 9th, 2010 // 10:52 am @ Oliver DeMille
On the morning of September 11, 2001, biology stopped being a science. For that matter, so did physics and mathematics, but our focus here is on biology.
Historically, the great philosophers and thinkers divided knowledge into four major branches:
First, the sciences, or the things which can be proven empirically — based on evidence and fact.
Second, the arts, areas of knowledge that are best understood through experiencing beauty.
Third, the spiritual, which Aristotle called metaphysics and which many moderns narrowly refer to as ethics.
Fourth, the humane, meaning the realm of organizing and leading human beings, the highest level of which is statesmanship, with social leadership being a close second.
Before 9/11, biology clearly belonged to the branch of knowledge called science. But as the world watched the planes fly into the buildings that day, over and over on our screens, the field of biology moved firmly and irreversibly into the realm of statesmanship.
As early as the 1920s, economist John Maynard Keynes suggested that the 21st Century would be the Democratic Century, as democracy and capitalism would finally spread around the world.
By the early 1990s, futurists Alvin Toffler and John Naisbitt separately predicted that the 21st Century would be the Asian or the Pacific Century, due to the rising might of China and the other Asian economies.
By the end of the nineties, the Bill Gates and Steve Jobs types suggested that the true explosion of the next hundred years would be technological rather than national — that the 21st would be the Digital Century.
But as big as these trends may or may not turn out to be, one thing will almost certainly eclipse them all: The 21st Century will be the Century of Biology.
And statesmen and social leaders of the future had better prepare accordingly.
But how should we prepare? What exactly does “The Century of Biology” mean?
Simply put, the events of 9/11 and the commencement of the Fourth Turning catapulted biological thinking from the first branch (pure science in pursuit of knowledge) immediately into the fourth branch (thought processes used to organize human endeavors) .
Biology is no longer about the sterile exercise of our intellects to answer questions about living organisms. Now biology has morphed into a means by which societal vitality may be investigated and sustained.
In biology, certain well-trained experts work to maintain health and banish disease from individuals and communities. We call these people healers, physicians, veterinarians, and the like.
In the twenty-first century, certain people, well-educated in the thinking of modern biology, will seek to sustain the vitality and vanquish the ills of society. To my way of thinking, these individuals have only one best, all-encompassing name: statesmen.
There are at least eight sub-trends of the overarching shift from the Information Age to the Biology Age . Each is significant, each is currently increasing its power, and each must be understood by the statesmen and social leaders of our day.
The first four trends are:
1. Business is coming to life.
2. Technology is coming to life.
3. Information is coming to life.
4. Culture is coming to life.
Together, these four trends are causing and will cause four other macro-trends, including:
5. The end of stability in national domestic life.
6. The end of security in all aspects of life — business, economic, governmental, etc.
7. The rising philosophy of General Evolution (not to be confused with micro- or macro-evolution).
8. Biology as a branch of leadership and a central tenet of all statesmanship.
The impact on our lives can hardly be overstated.
All our central models and worldviews will change — or at least the language we use to support our views.
For example, in the 20th Century our vocabulary and ideas were infused with the teachings of physics: time, distance, size and mechanical interactions were the rule. We understood things by asking who? what? where? why? when? and how?
In contrast, in the Biology Century our central metaphors will be creativity, initiative, adaptability, and the organic interconnections of things.
Instead of seeing a world made up of atoms, we will see a universe that can only be understood by comprehending relationships — not just knowing that relationships exist, mind you, but truly understanding them.
(As a side note, some authors including Tom Peters have suggested that therefore the 21st Century will be totally dominated by women).
In short, as Daniel Pink put it, the Right Brain will lead the 21st Century .
Relationships in business will dominate the bottom line; relationships in government will determine success in security, trade, economics, and even freedom; relationships in families will create a new class system, just as family arrangements created all historical class systems.
Relationships, not atoms, are the building blocks of our universe.
Let’s consider some specific examples of this shift into the Century of Biology, starting with the future of business. Twentieth century business emphasized the mechanical approach, including planning, strategizing, predicting, engineering the company, and controlling change.
A whole mechanical-based leadership industry grew around dozens of books which outlined the seven keys to success or the three choices of leaders. All of this is now turning to biology . Just consider the following business phrases now in use in the general corporate world:
- Adaptive Organizations
- Metabolic Companies
- Evolutionary Corporations
- Permanent Volatility
- Non-Linear Systems
- Organic Leadership
- Cell Management
- Organism Organization
- People Power
- Mutation Marketing
- Going Viral
- Responsive Customized Manufacturing
The list could go on. But consider another huge trend which is not only re-seeding the way leaders and managers work, but is actually re-focusing the products and services businesses offer.
Technology is literally coming alive.
In the excellent book It’s Alive: The Coming Convergence of Information, Biology, & Business by Christopher Meyer and Stan Davis, the authors outline several major fields of bio-technology in the coming decades, including, but not limited to, nano-tech and materials science.
Nano-tech, which literally means the technology of the very, very small, has virtually exploded in the past decade — and it is growing exponentially.
To summarize this exciting new field, suffice it to say that with current optical technology and the latest generation of super microscopes, almost anything can be done smaller.
For example, researchers can now manipulate atoms, see genes in action, watch proteins as they interact and DNA strands as they fold. Scientists have “slowed” light down enough to capture a photon particle, and they can routinely manipulate the gene.
Medical researchers can “see” directly into the cell and even laser inject a medication directly into a cell without a needle. Nano-technology is being pursued by numerous national militaries and a host of private companies.
Also consider the breakthroughs of materials science. Research is currently underway to create the matter compiler, which would deconstruct a substance and then re-pattern the molecules to form a different pre-programmed substance.
What does this mean?
Imagine if ancient alchemy and Star Trek replicators meet in the middle sometime around the year 2052.
Or consider the concept currently under design of the Universal Mentor — a wrist watch or a pair of glasses with a world wide web link and audio capability which listens to your conversations and pipes answers, facts, quotes and sources directly into your watch or earpiece.
Experience Entertainment may be the closest to manufacturing these coming gadgets — where the interactive movie or CD connects directly to the central nervous system or visual cortex so that you are Arnold Shwarzenegger or Angelina Jolie.
And already in operation is the Social Science Simulator, which scholars are using to predict the results of a certain policy or law.
As fantastic as these ideas may be, they are still all based on mechanical technology, right? For now, yes. But significant funding and research are being put into “smart” technologies — machines which think, learn, evolve and possibly even “feel”.
Of course, the movie industry has shown the dangers of this in a barrage of movies in the last twenty years. But two facts remain: bio-tech research is in its embryonic stage, and embryos grow and develop.
The ideas and developments I highlighted in the last article may all seem impossible, or at least impractical. But listen to Dr. Rodney Brooks, MIT Professor and Director of the Artificial Intelligence Lab at MIT. He says:
Fifty years ago, just after the Second World War, there was a transformation of engineering. Before that, engineering had been a craft-based exercise, but starting around 1950 it was transformed into a physics-based discipline. Now we are seeing the beginnings of a transformation of engineering again, this time into a largely biologically-based discipline…At MIT’s Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, where I am director, I see signs of this transformation every day. We have torn out clean rooms where we used to make silicon chips and installed wet labs in their place, where we compile programs into DNA sequences that we splice into genomes in order to breed bacterial robots. Our thirty-year goal is to have such exquisite control over the genetics of living systems that instead of growing a tree, cutting it down, and building a table out of it, we will ultimately be able to grow the table. . . Similar transformations are happening throughout engineering departments, not just at MIT but all over the world.” 
Professor Brooks continues:
“Some of the early biological augmentations of ourselves may entail increasing the number of neurons in our cortex. Already these sorts of experiments are being carried out on rats. When extra layers of neurons are placed in the brain of a rat at a critical time in its development, its intelligence is enhanced relative to rats without this augmentation. As we better understand the hormonal balances that control the growth of our brain in childhood, we will perhaps be able to add sheets of neurons to our adult brains, adding a few points to our IQ and restoring our memory abilities to those we had when younger. There will likely be some errors and horror stories about augmentation gone haywire, but make no mistake — the technology, in fits and starts, will proceed.
“By the midpoint of the twenty-first century, we will have many, many new biological capabilities. Some of them seem fanciful today, just as projections about the speed, memory, and price of today’s computers would have seemed fanciful to the engineers working on the first digital computers in 1950.” 
Psychology and mathematics are also turning biological. As Marc Hauser, Professor in the Department of Psychology and Program in Neurosciences at Harvard University, wrote:
“A chicken with a piece of quail brain bows its head like a quail but crows like a chicken. A seventy-year-old man with Parkinson’s disease, confined to his wheelchair, receives a piece of brain from a pig and in no time at all is out golfing, without a hint of his porcine accessory. This is not science fiction, a la Douglas Adams. This is scientific fact. Today we can swap brain tissue not just among individuals of the same species but between species. In the next fifty years such exquisite neurobiology will have revolutionized our understanding of the brain—of how it is wired up during development and how it has evolved over time.”
And consider these thoughts from Ian Stewart, the 1995 recipient of the Royal Society’s Michael Faraday medal:
“Far more influential, and far more radical, will be the mathematics inspired by the biosciences: biomathematics. As the triumphal announcements about the human genome give way to a new realism about the results, it has become clear that merely sequencing DNA does not get us very far in understanding organisms, or even in curing diseases. There are huge gaps in our understanding of the link between genes and organisms. . . .
“Genes are part of a dynamic control process that not only makes proteins but modifies them and gets them to the right place in a developing organism at the right moment in its life history. The understanding of this process will require much more than a mere list of DNA codes, and most of what’s missing has to be mathematical. But it will be a new kind of mathematics, one that blends the dynamics of organism growth with the molecular information processing of DNA. . . . The new biomathematics will be a strange new mixture of . . . analysis, geometry, and informatics. Plus lots of biology, of course.” 
Stewart also says:
“Today, complex systems are being studied in two main areas—biology and finance. A stock market, for instance, has many agents who interact by buying and selling stocks and shares. Out of this interaction emerges the financial world. The mathematics of finance and commerce will be revolutionized by throwing away the current “linear” models and introducing ones whose mathematical structure more accurately reflects the real world.
“Even more dramatically, mathematics will invade new areas of human activity altogether—social science, the arts, even politics. However, mathematics will not be used in the same way as it is currently used in the physical sciences.” 
And National Medal of Technology recipient Ray Kurzweil writes:
“. . .‘narrow’ AI [includes] machine intelligence that equals or exceeds human intelligence for specific tasks. Every time you send an e-mail or make a cell phone call, intelligent algorithms route the information. AI programs diagnose heart disease, fly and land airplanes, guide autonomous weapons, make automated investment decisions for a trillion dollars’ worth of funds and guide industrial processes. These were all research projects a couple of decades ago.
“So what are the prospects for ‘strong’ AI . . . with the full range of human intelligence? We can meet the hardware requirements . . . . [W]e need about 10 quadrillion calculations a second to provide a functional equivalent to all the regions of the brain. IBM’s Blue Gene/L computer is already at 100 trillion. If we plug in the semiconductor industry’s projections, we can see that 10 quadrillion calculations a second will be available for $1,000 by around 2020.” 
The ramifications are mind boggling, and the science is clearly here to stay.
But how is this all shifting to the realm of statesmanship and social leadership? The answer is profound. Genetic engineering, cloning, bio-mathematics and direct genetic healing cross the boundaries between science and leadership on many levels.
Jefferson spoke for all the great freedom philosophers of history when he wrote, “all men are created equal.” Indeed, this is the most basic tenet of free government, free markets and just laws.
But what if a new generation of children aren’t created equal?
What if only the very rich, or citizens in certain leading nations, can afford the gene scripting that gives their children the brains of Aristotle, the strength and speed of a professional football player, the height of a pro basketball center, and the looks of Apollo?
What if some men and women really are created “more equal than others?”
Politicians may try to stop the use of this technology for a time, just like they met in diplomatic summits and signed treaties to stop the technologies of the machine gun, chemical weapons, mind-enhancing drugs for entertainment, or nuclear weapons.
But where the technology exists, human beings will find a way to use it. The statesmen of the 21st Century will have to do better than just passing laws or signing treaties.
Indeed, the statesmen and social leaders of our generation will face a host of challenges unimagined by Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Gandhi, Churchill, or Mother Teresa. Which is why we must be better prepared than any generation before us — in virtue, wisdom, diplomacy and courage.
We must be the best educated of any generation — ever.
Just consider the emerging concept of General Evolution, as taught by Meyer and Davis.
Whereas micro-evolution means that external pressures, adaptation and mutation lead to evolution within a species, and macro-evolution refers to one species evolving into another, the evolution debate is now infused with a whole new issue.
General Evolution argues that all things, not just biological organisms, evolve along the same lines as Darwin’s micro-evolution.
In short, agents act to create, the creations face selective pressures and either perish or overcome, they overcome by connecting with other agents and then adapting, such adaptation causes them to evolve to a whole new level, where they self-organize, replicate or reproduce, and start over.
In biology the agent is the cell, made up of smaller agents such as proteins. In society the agent is the family, in an economy it is a business, in physics it is an atom, and so on. In the Information Age the agent is software, and if it actually does evolve, then it will naturally meet the criteria of being alive.
This may seem far-fetched, but who is to say that the biology code of G,T,A,C is inherently superior to the binary code of 1 and 0? Both were created or inspired by the same God. Indeed, numerous researchers are currently combining the two.
Interestingly, many of the strongest proponents of both sides of the 20th Century debate over macro evolution versus creationism are natural believers in General Evolution.
The atheistic skeptic already believes that man is god, so why can’t we create other beings in our own image that hopefully are like us in all the good ways but don’t inherit our flaws?
And the religious person believes that God created man, and that He also gave us the gift to create.
Why then can’t we create smart machines that learn and improve themselves as well as those that just do what the programmer says?
They will never take the place of human beings, just like cats and dogs never take the place of our children — but for people who don’t have children in the home, pets and smart machines might be excellent company.
In any case, in more practical terms, many (if not a majority) of the entrepreneurs of the 21st Century will only succeed if they infuse biology into their companies — in terms of products and especially relationships.
The mothers, fathers, entrepreneurs, social leaders, social entrepreneurs, community leaders and national and world statesmen of the 21st Century need to think biologically. They need to realize that families, schools, nations, and societies are organic, not mechanical.
For example, mothers are much more like arms than bumpers — you can’t just pull one off and replace it, without creating excruciating and lasting pain. Schools that treat teachers like factory workers instead of best friends will be full of students with glazed over eyes who can’t wait to get out of school. Why should they study if they hate the place?
Nations which pass laws mechanically, just assuming that whatever is legal will be followed by everyone regardless of their deepest beliefs, will not succeed.
People are disposed to “suffer a long chain of abuses,” but at some point the soul comes out and slaves rise against masters — not because they want to, but because deep within them they have to. It’s who they are. It’s their biology, and their spirit.
In less extreme nations, where slavery is outlawed, but the laws slowly promote immorality and become less and less just, the same pattern emerges. Eventually the people stand up, speak out, and do whatever it takes to win back their freedoms and re-institute virtue and goodness.
When positive change occurs, it does so biologically, organically, not mechanically. Like the fall of the Berlin Wall or the Civil Rights movement, few can predict it and then suddenly, in a few short years it is over and the world is changed. In retrospect, it seems inevitable.
That is what statesmanship and social leadership are about: preparing yourself to recognize unforeseen opportunity and lead change when the time is finally right.
20th Century experts may continue to suggest a mechanical strategy and a well-formed plan for the change, but a deep reading of history shows that the most important changes don’t happen that way.
Missions Worth Pursuing
The great changes of the 21st Century will happen biologically, naturally, as you submit to your Higher Power, focus your life on the mission given to you, and do what our generation was born to do.
In the 21st Century, there is nothing stopping us from feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, healing the sick, educating the ignorant, and freeing the captive. These are each biological imperatives. They are why our generation was born.
These are the missions worth pursuing. If you are giving your life to something else, please reconsider. You were born for a purpose. Find out what it is, and dedicate your whole biology to it — your body, heart, mind, and even your soul. Such grand purposes are the core of the human being. It is who we are. It is why we were born.
7 Areas of Focus for 21st Century Leaders
Specifically, the leaders of the 21st Century will lead biology in the following seven arenas. Each of us needs to become a student of all of them, and others that will naturally emerge in the decades ahead. Indeed, by 2020 I predict that to “be educated” will mean that you are literate in all seven, and a master of at least a few.
The 7 divisions of the new biology are:
- A vision of the future that is simultaneously accurate, good, and transformational.
- Adaptability and flexibility in the face of frequent change.
- Robustness and strength in overcoming all the challenges of this generation.
- The spirit of innovation, of destabilizing things that seem to be okay but are actually mediocre.
- Exploration and experimentation of good ideas and “impossible” dreams.
- Depth relationships — meaning a life focus on the most important relationships, with spouse, children, family and a few intimate others.
- Breadth relationships — including ministering to the people of the world by building friendships in every nation and people.
These are the great imperatives of statesmen, social leaders, mothers, and fathers in the 21st Century. And each of these is a biological process.
Where & How to Get This Education
Our vision is to train world-class statesmen who are true experts in these organic processes.
Leadership Education provides an in-depth study of what constitutes our society — the basic political, governmental, legal, economic, social, cultural, business and family forms which make up a society. It is, in the broad sense, the new biology.
Whereas rocket science studies inanimate objects, students study these seven biological challenges. They also master an eighth challenge, which is the highest struggle biology has ever known: how to build the ideal society.
If you were born to be one of the statesmen or stateswomen of the 21st Century, let nothing stop you from getting a true statesman’s education.
What Will You Invest In?
Whatever your focus is during the next decade, in the Century of Biology it is finally time to dedicate ourselves to solving the world’s problems.
Feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, liberating the captive and teaching the ignorant are not just good ideas; they are our biological purpose in the decades ahead. They are why we are here.
We are biological beings. Biological entities don’t just exist, they live. Such beings learn, adapt, and at the highest levels, serve. They meet challenges and change the world. This is your heritage. It is the reason you are here. Live up to it.
Finally, the highest level of biology is investment. Whatever living organisms invest in tends to create their legacy and their future. Most living things invest primarily in survival. Man-made organizations tend to focus their investment on growing.
The Caucasian cultures that arose in Europe and spread throughout Western Civilization invest mainly in assets. In contrast, the Hebrews traditionally saw education as the highest investment. Many cultures around the world invest in relationships or family as the highest goal. And a number of Asian cultures emphasize investing in beauty or meaning.
You are what you invest in– you’ll put your best time, best effort and deepest desires into your primary investment in life. So choose your investment well. Because whatever you choose, it will define you, as well as your failure and your success.
For statesmen and social leaders, there is only one choice: a special type of biological relationship called Service. If your life is lost in serving the good of the world, you will find yourself.
And maybe, if I can be so bold, you will become something much, much more than a biological being.