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Thriving in a New Era Requires These Skills

Thriving in a New Era Requires These Skills

As Daniel Pink so deftly lays out in his book A Whole New Mind, our society is headed towards a Conceptual Age. In this new era one of the most valuable aptitudes is “high concept”: the ability to detect patterns, make connections, and create opportunities.

We couldn’t agree more! We went so far as to build a company for the very purpose of utilizing our high concept skills and helping others do the same.

One common thread in recognizing patterns and making connections is experiencing a moment of epiphany. There is something so magical about when that little light bulb suddenly illuminates and all of the little fragments of information make sense.

“Bottom line is that epiphanies are very important. Every new product that get launched starts with an epiphany. Every new business, every unique service, every original marketing strategy, every novel piece of legislation, and every mobile app can all trace their origins to a single epiphany. They are essential for business and an integral part of a growing economy. Epiphanies are a critical part of society, and the better we understand them the better we can leverage them to benefit society.” Thomas Frey (

I consider myself somewhat of an epiphany junkie. I try to achieve at least one ah-ha moment every day. It can happen at any time, but the most likely times are when I am doing a fairly simple activity (e.g. washing dishes, driving, or sitting quietly on the porch). An epiphany is something that comes to you, not something you can create on demand. You can look for one, but it may not always appear. The key is to be in a position to accept an epiphany, should one happen by.

Carving out quiet spaces for ourselves is an important aspect of readiness. With music blasting, social media pinging, and advertisements blaring we might not notice a potential epiphany sitting on the sidelines. When we become more aware of our surroundings we are less likely to miss these tiny but profound moments.

Another way to encourage epiphanies is to partake in a variety of activities. Outdoor activities are important, because the natural world holds infinite connection points. Gardening, hiking, or looking for shells at the beach can spark a link to something else that’s on our mind.

Reading is a great way to build a repertoire of material that can be used for making connections. (I have listened to a few audiobooks lately and really enjoyed the experience. It’s slower than reading and I can do it while digging in the garden).

Other activities I highly recommend are playing with clay, taking a yoga class, or listening to an inspiring talk. Stretching your body and your mind makes more space for new ideas and new relationships.

With a steady stream of new material our minds begin to connect seemingly disparate concepts into more meaningful themes. In Pink’s book he points out that medical students who study paintings “excel at noticing subtle details about a patient’s condition.” When we focus on being more observant we see more, and sometimes just a quick glimpse of something can lead to finding a cure, designing a new product, or otherwise improving our daily lives.

The hallmarks of our current culture–working long hours at desks, exercising at indoor facilities, and maintaining constant contact via electronic devices–show that we have created an environment that is unfavorable to epiphanies. Instead of trying to cram more into this existing structure, perhaps we need to approach our activities from a different perspective and make space for a few ah-ha moments. Our livelihood might just depend on it.