Geography did not hold much interest for me as a student when I was growing up. Naming places and knowing locations seemed tedious and of little value to me at the time. I was more fascinated by big picture and patterns. Yet, the truest wisdom of patterns, and how they overlay, merge and scale is revealed with an examination of the nuanced details.
It wasn’t until college that I learned about fractals. I remember trying to get my brain to understand this idea of patterns repeating at every level. This idea that these natural patterns were the mathematics behind the resonance of beauty that we see and feel in nature. Fractals are a code of ordered chaos that has always existed but has just been decoded and revealed with the tools of an evolved civilization. It was a new map.
I read a lot of books from business books to crazy esoteric stuff. Many could summarize the ideas or information in a quarter of the pages used. For me, a good book is one that connects something, reveals something or triggers me enough to question my own thinking. I’ve been expecting that my extreme of interests and books would converge.
The last few years they have been getting closer. Business ideas and strategies have started to recognize the depth and importance of what used to be soft skills, the human component and relationships as the place where the deepest riches lie. Technology of every kind is continuing to quantify and explain the science behind the benefits and impact of practices like yoga, mindfulness, meditation and breathing.
We can now quantify how these ancient practices are changing our brains, our minds and our lives. It’s as if Harold’s purple crayon has connected a crazy array of dots to reveal a fractal pattern of the mind that we never understood was lying beneath the chaos.
I read every page of this book. Every word. This is the most influential book that I have read in the past five years. The research was happening before we stumbled into our current political “situation” and somehow the authors were priming us to see the possibilities and layers of patterns underneath our current time and our past. It is fascinating to learn that we can de-code how the mind works. We’ve naturally been seeking ways to de-pattern our thinking, like dolphins seek out pufferfish for a few quick snorts. We’ve been experimenting with many different ways to shift our minds and see our challenges in a new light so we can find solutions.
Stealing Fire posits that creative problem solving is the most important skill in the 21st century…and we’ve missed the mark on how to train for that. We have been training with skills and we need to train for multiple “states of mind.” It’s as if our logical, 20th century, skill-filled minds are only one app, with a constant Woody Allen commentary, filling all of our headspace. Multiple states of mind and the ability to tap into them is like discovering the iTunes app store when you thought there was only one app available.
I won’t even try to summarize it all here but let’s just say these guys have provided the new map to the metaphorical mountain pass that will get us to the other side in half the time we suspected was possible. The other side is the ability to generate solutions. The even better news…it’s not a geographical pass where there is a constant struggle for control so one party or the other has control. It’s a pass that is wide, open-source and accessible to all.
Yes, every one of us has multiple apps, multiple states of mind, that are available. Stealing Fire provides the map to find our way. It’s remarkable.