I’ve had a need to conquer things my entire life: to conquer the limitations of my body to excel in athletics, to conquer my fear of public speaking to advance my career, to conquer the competition to succeed in business, to conquer anything and everything in my way so I could get more of what I wanted, one thing after the next.
Tiffany Shlain would say that’s because I was raised in a man’s world dominated by the left-brain.
In her wonderful movie, Connected: An Autoblogography about Love, Death and Technology, Tiffany explains that the development of the alphabet created a world favoring masculine, left-brain thinking. She demonstrates how the masculine trait of dividing big things into smaller pieces to conquer the problems of the world has created the modern civilization we have today. Unfortunately, many of our “solutions” have created problems:
- We conquered agricultural pests with pesticides
- We conquered disease with vaccines
- We conquered hunger with genetically modified foods (GMO’s)
- We conquered enemies on the battlefield with weapons of mass destruction
- We conquered high labor costs with mass production, automation, and now robotics
We solved problems with manly gusto, collateral damage be damned. Very left-brain.
In recent years, I have been on a spiritual quest. It started with an introduction to a book by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer called Change Your Thoughts – Change Your Life: Living the Wisdom of the Tao. My quest has caused me to look within, to stop fighting and let life come to me, and to integrate the yin (feminine) along with the yang (masculine) into my thinking.
As a result, I am learning to conquer my need to conquer the world. Tiffany would say that’s a good thing.
There has been an explosion of knowledge and technology such that the skills required for thriving in a man’s world are being increasingly replaced by machines. Today, many of the analytical powers of my left-brain are better left to computers.
“For most of human history we survived by creating an agricultural economy,” Tiffany says in her latest short film, The Adaptable Mind. “Two hundred years ago, we shifted to an industrial economy. Just fifty years ago, we initiated the knowledge economy. And today, we’re approaching another seismic shift some people are calling the human economy.”
Men and their analytical “divide and conquer-thinking” thrived during the agricultural, industrial, and knowledge economies. The human economy, however, favors feminine thinking. And importantly, it rewards a set of human skills that machines cannot learn:
- Multi-disciplinary thinking
Thriving in the human economy will require a shift from left-brain to right-brain thinking and from masculine to feminine solutions. Mankind’s great accomplishments in science, trade, knowledge and technology have created a woman’s world.
Tiffany provides an example of this shift with a story about the 2014 West Africa Ebola outbreak. It was the first Ebola outbreak to reach epidemic proportions. As of November 10, 2015, the World Health Organization and respective governments have reported a total of 28,635 suspected cases and 11,314 deaths1.
The people of these African communities were already shaken by extreme poverty, a dysfunctional healthcare system, and a mistrust of government officials after years of armed conflict. Now they were witnessing their family and friends dying by the thousands from a strange illness.
Left-brain thinking produced the expected response as western science rushed in to conquer the crisis. Medical professionals flooded into African communities to test for the disease, care for the sick, and bring the outbreak under control. Of course, they did all this wearing protective gear covering every inch of their bodies. They looked more like alien creatures than human beings.
One woman was paying attention and noticed how frightening this must be. Her solution was elegant, effective and deeply empathetic. She simply suggested all healthcare workers wear a picture of themselves on their protective gear.
What a beautiful idea. Very right brain.
Welcome to the Woman’s World.
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