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Will Right-Brainers Rule the 21st Century?

Updated on December 25, 2011

This is exactly the question Daniel Pink discusses in his book titled “A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future.” While reading this book, I was looking for some answers to justify why, as a self-professed right-brainer, I felt so left behind in a society that rewards, what Pink calls, the “rational, analytic and logical.” We have all been raised in societies that reward convention and aggressive attitude towards getting ahead. We are constantly bombarded by the images of successful politicians, executives and media personalities that concurrently lead less than moral lives. It almost seems that the innovative, artistic and open-minded individual enters the world expecting fewer financial and position gains by default of being more right-brain minded.

But, according to Pink, being left-brained in the era of the computer might and out-sourcing for cheaper left-brained labor is a disadvantage in this new century. In this era, emotional intelligence supersedes intellectual intelligence, specifically because it is an innate transformation and cannot be learned through external knowledge. Creativity is unique and cannot be found in the same form in any one creative individual. Many can learn the same skill well, but many do not have that brilliant idea that sets a successful entrepreneur apart from the status-quo business individual.

But, I do feel that Pink is over-ambitious in praising the right-brained influence. Right-brained ambition will not be enough to generate economic growth and political influence if it isn’t coupled or “complemented” with left-brained number-crunching.

What I did concur with and think that the new century has embraced in terms of right-brain influence is the acceptance of innovative ideas, of spirituality and new answers to old questions and the acceptability of modern, self-imposed lifestyle. The increase of Westerners who practice meditation and yoga, as well as the growing awareness of “oneness” with other cultures and a greater tolerance of controversial views point to a shift in mentality towards something “higher” and greater than ourselves. Coincidentally, most ancient traditions have predicted that we are entering an astrological age of enlightenment, the “Age of Aquarius” that follows the “Age of Pisces” that we are transitioning from currently. The present Piscean age is said to be characterized by warfare, aggression and spiritual regression, while the onset of the Aquarian age is to bring mankind back from ignorance and towards greater understanding and higher consciousness.

In fact, the best way to embrace our move towards a more enlightened and peaceful period is to embrace right-brain ideas, creativity and innovation. Coupled with the left-brain ability to ground the humankind by materializing innovative ideas, the utilization of right-brain energy will truly bring forth a greater understanding of ourselves as humans- both of our potential and of our unlimited gifts. As long as we can balance our analytical and creative energies, we will lead a more balanced life. As Pink advocates, “Sometimes we need detachment; many other times we need attunement. And the people who will thrive will be those who can toggle between the two.”

“…The truth is, a great mind must be androgynous.” (think Steve Jobs as a good example) -Samuel Taylor Coleridge

In order to incorporate transformative ideas and design sensibility into our lives, Pink believes that we should be open to the following approach to living (from designer Karim Rashid):

- Consume experiences, not things

- Normal is not good—transcend convention and be extraordinary

- Here and now is all we got

I have to agree that with a direct transformation in our lives, we experience more of ourselves and grow to evolve. To seek transformation is to see outside of a small box of ideas and transcend to see the “big picture” of how our own and others’ lives, ideas, habits and interpretations shape our own and to truly question this network of influence and “redesign it” to fit our view of a life worth living. To “androgynize” the brain is to use both the left and right brain equally to fulfill and inspire these goals and to truly balance our lives so we can enjoy them. Culture and the arts are important aspects in our lives and without the local festival or the occasional opera and a dance-performance, our experience of the transcendental would dull the humanity to a greater rigidity and a culture of “no questions asked” drones. Truly, the horning of our imagination and desire to transcend is the only way to push the glass ceiling of what is possible. If our right-brained mentality did not lead us to this path, then the social evolution of the humankind would have stagnated decades, centuries or even beyond. Who knows what the world would be like today if we did not embellish creativity and fostered imagination.

What Pink sees as the future ground-breakers are the poet engineers, artist doctors and nutritionist architects of the world. These individuals will be the new successful bread in the modern society. As an artistic type myself, my own experience confirms that the “artistic” anything types (even if they are predominantly left-brain people) are usually easier to entertain as friends, easier to show understanding/give advice, and share a similar, non-linear and predetermined view and approach to life. They are truly the “it” people that will excel in all areas of life and contribute greatly to our social progress.


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    • AnesaK profile image

      AnesaK 6 years ago from USA

      James, absolutely! I think that the basis for a creative contribution to humanity lies in innovative thinking and the ability/knowledge to follow the inmovation through. For example, those that are interested in or are able to reconcile/explain the connection of math and music, physics and spirituality, technology and design, etc. will be the future innovators. Being able to be both right and left brained is the key to future innovation in all the fields- and our culture definitely needs more right brainered thinking so we can progress as a society. Thanks so much for your comment!

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago

      It seems to be that creative people are amply rewarded in the West, at least. People created the internet, Google, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, ebay, and Netflix. The whole professions of acting, writing, athletics, and the arts are handsomely rewarded in our culture. The number of fantastic inventions and innovations that benefit us today are beyond numbering—all the result of creativity. Thank you.

    • AnesaK profile image

      AnesaK 6 years ago from USA

      Actually, I happen to be right-handed...but write pretty neatly with my left hand when I try! My sisters are left-handed, so I do have left-handed people in my family. Nonetheless, I am in the right-hand/right brain combo minority :).

    • kripkrip420 profile image

      kripkrip420 6 years ago from In relation to what?

      I am also right-brained! Do you happen to be left-handed? Apparently, the majority of left-handers are right-brained individuals (since it is the right brain hemisphere that controls the left side of the body), so I'm just asking out of curiosity. Great hub by the way!