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I recently started reading Dan Pink’s fascinating book, A Whole New Mind, and I’m really enjoying the exercises that he recommends at the end of each chapter. The principle of “symphony” – Dan’s term for symthesis, the ability to create innovative new combinations and connections between seemingly unrelated bits of information – contains some especially interesting exercises. Here are several of them that I would like to share with you.

I recently started reading Dan Pink’s fascinating book, A Whole New Mind, and I’m really enjoying the exercises that he recommends at the end of each chapter. The principle of “symphony” – Dan’s term for symthesis, the ability to create innovative new combinations and connections between seemingly unrelated bits of information – contains some especially interesting exercises. Here are several of them that I would like to share with you:

Keep a metaphor log: Metaphors are powerful ways to see the world around you differently. Dan recommends that you carry a small notebook with you, which you can use to write down compelling metaphors you encounter. When you do this, he says, “you’ll be amazed. When I last kept a log, I came upon such an array of metaphors that the world seemed richer and more vivid. It will also inspire you to create your own metaphors in writing, thought, or other parts of your life.”

Follow the links: This is the web search version of the “6 degrees of separation” exercise (where you see if you can think of 6 relationships that connect you with a celebrity, for example). In this exercise, you select a word or phrase you find interesting, and type it into a search engine, then follow one of the links in the search results. On that site, click a link that leads you to another site. On that site, click another random link that leads you to yet another site, and so forth. When you reach the 6th site, Dan recommends that you spend some time reflecting on what you learned about your topic, as well as the diversions you encountered along the way. “Beginning with a site you never would have visited can take you to places you never expected – and enhance your appreciation for the symphonic relationships between ideas.”

Create an inspiration board: Empty a bulletin board in your work area when you begin a project. Each time you see something (pictures, magazine articles or other items) that you think is compelling, tack it to the board. “Before long, you’ll start seeing connections between the images that will enliven and expand your work.”

This is a fascinating book so far. It has made me really appreciate the power of using our whole minds – both its logical and non-linear, artistic sides – to thrive in the 21st century.

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