The in-depth this year will incorporate a discussion and application of Edward de Bono’s book, called How to Have a Beautiful Mind. What can you do to make your mind more beautiful? Others, in particular your in-depth project mentors, will appreciate having beautiful conversations with you. This project’s secondary purpose focuses on conducting and analyzing conversations between you and your mentor. You are going to learn from your mentor by careful observations as well as conversations about your observations of his or her craft. This in-depth project is not about reading about your craft but about practicing your craft. The habits described in this book have to be practiced, too. What better way, then trying to explore and experience some of these habits with your mentor?
The first three habits are how to agree, how to disagree and how to differ. Read the corresponding three sections in your book. For the in-depth followers who do not have this resource, here is a brief summary.
- How to agree? It is important that you do not agree or disagree with everything your mentor is telling you. This would be rather irritating. As a mentee who is starting to learn a new skill with a mentor who is the expert, being right all the time in an argument or any situation is not helpful in this relationship. You are trying to explore the craft alongside your mentor with mutual respect and patience. Everyone has their own logic bubble that is formed by perceptions, values, needs and experiences. Seeing where that person is “coming from” helps you see their logic (p. 6). Also, find a special circumstance in which or a certain value for which an idea may make sense. Generalizations also get us into trouble.
During your next session with your mentor try to follow some of de Bono’s guidelines for how to agree (p. 11). For example:
- #7 See if there are any circumstances in which the other person’s views might be right.
- #6 Make a real effort to see where the other person is coming from.
- #1 Genuinely seek to find points of agreement in what the other person is saying.
How to disagree? Being able to disagree helps us tell the truth as well as “investigate any issue objectively and fully” (p. 14). Make sure that when you disagree you are polite. Reasons to disagree are, for example, errors in logic, limited interpretation of data and selective perception. Is the disagreement objective or does it come from emotions, different experiences, sweeping generalizations and extrapolations. De Bono states, “You may be willing to accept something as a “possibility” but very unwilling to accept it as a “certainty” (p. 22). Do not just say you disagree, but state the type of disagreement (see p. 24).
During your next session with your mentor try to follow some of de Bono’s guidelines for how to disagree (p. 26). For example:
- #2 Do not disagree just to show how clever you are or to boost your ego.
- #8 You may want to disagree to show a different personal experience.
- #12 Distinguish between having a different opinion and disagreeing with an opinion.
- How to differ?
One difference is on one opinion being right and the other being wrong. The second difference has to do with opinions about the future which can be right or wrong as time will tell. There are many sources for differences in opinion: personal preferences, values, points of view and different personal experiences. It is best to spell out the difference in opinions and the reasons for this difference. Sometimes we need to accept a difference of opinions and while at other times, terms may need to be clarified that led to a difference of opinion.
During your next session with your mentor try to follow some of de Bono’s guidelines for how to differ (p. 19). For example:
- When a difference arises, try to figure out what this difference is based on.
- Can a difference be reconciled? Which difference and how can it be reconciled?
- Do you and your mentor have a different opinion of the future? How so?
- What are some of the opinions of your mentor? How do they compare to yours?
Task: In your second in-depth post comment on your progress so far and how you were able to incorporate the first three aspects of how to have a beautiful mind.