“A Whole New Mind”: Learning to Excel in the Modern Workplace

    Technology has forever changed the way we work. I know this is highly apparent and nothing new to anyone living in the modern world. Unfortunately, not everyone understands the full impact this has on our economy and the availability of various kind of jobs. In today’s workforce you are competing against yourself. What does that mean? It means that for the majority of professions there is someone with the exact same skill set as you that can do your job for a fraction of the price in another part of the world. If it can be programmed into a computer, it can be done anywhere. My intention is not to scare you, but to alert you that the game has changed and you need to gear your set of skills towards that.

      Daniel H. Pink discusses the change in the workforce and what it means to professionals in his book “A Whole New Mind: Why Right Brainers Will Rule the Future”. In this book he discusses the fact that the highly prized linear thinking professions like accountants, lawyers, and engineers, that guaranteed great salaries and job potential, are being shipped overseas. Why? Because they are highly educated workers in India, China and Russia who can do the same job for a lot less because of a huge difference in the cost of living.  I was shocked when Pink mentioned that a typical aeronautical engineer in the US was paid $6,000 a month but in Russia the same job could be done for only $650 per month.

     So does this mean that there will be no jobs in these fields and everyone should just resign themselves to unemployment or a lower standard of living.  Absolutely not. What Pink prescribes in this book is that people who are in these left brain functioning jobs need to become more creative, literally. Pink explains that in order for people in professions that can be replicated by a computer to succeed, they must learn to use the right side of their brain more effectively.

     So what does that mean? It means that to succeed in the current workforce you need to be the one creating the new ideas. You need to develop a new way of developing or producing things that can’t be replicated immediately all over the world. You see this concept in action when you go shopping. Every store carries similar items, but the ones that sell the best have the best design or a feature that is different from anything else on the market. For people in the technical world, this means staying ahead of the curve of what people and companies need, and being one of the first to provide it. Even CEO’s realize the importance of design. Robert Lutz of GM was quoted in the New York Times when asked how his approach was different from his predecessors as saying “It’s more right brain…I see us being in the art business. Art, entertainment, and mobile sculpture, which coincidentally, happens to provide transportation.”

     Getting to the right side of your brain is easier than you think, even if you are a hard core left brainer. In part 2 of this piece I will discuss the ways that Daniel Pink suggests for tapping into the right side of your brain.

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