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DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Mindsight

Written by: on March 15, 2018

In the book The Social Animal: A Story of How Success Happens, David Brooks uses story to bring understanding to the way in which human progress happens and its relationship to the depths of our inner unconscious mind. Throughout the 22 chapters of his book he intertwines economic, political, social and psychological theories as he walks us through the lives of two characters Harold and Erica. He writes “The unconscious is impulsive, emotional, sensitive, and unpredictable. It has its shortcomings. It needs supervision. But it can be brilliant. It’s capable of processing blizzards of data and making daring creative leaps. Most of all, it is also wonderfully gregarious. Your unconscious, that inner extrovert, wants you to reach outward and connect. It wants you to achieve communion with work, friend, family, nation, and cause. Your unconscious wants to entangle you in the thick web of relations that are the essence of human flourishing…Of all the blessings that come with being alive, it is the most awesome gift.”[1]

Chapter 3 focuses on the formulation of our mindsight beginning as a fetus in the womb and how it progress in various stages of human development. It is amazing how our brains work and collect information. In the narrative he tells the story of Julia Harold’s mom and the relationship that began at conception. She was charaterized as a socially free person. One that lended toward a different moral compass than most. When she was pregnant it began a shift in how she related to the world. I found it interesting how he told the story of how our minds develop and how our unconscious mind models love based on our early engagement with our parents. For Julie this was a true learning experience because she didn’t  understand what it all entailed but her and Harold discovered this new life together. Brooks talks about the debated theory of Mirror Neurons. It is the brains ability to recreate mental patterns based on what we experience. It is not that we have special neurons but we were fashioned with the ability at a young age to be able to master the skill of imitating our surroundings.  While I am not thrilled by some of his examples, Brooks used the example of a baby sticking out his tongue as a way of responding to an adult who stuck out their tongue. Without hesitation the baby understood how to respond when they saw an adult stick out their tongue. What I loved about this chapter, although I have yet to birth a child, is the developmental stages he introduces as he tells Harolds story. He give importance to moments that most of our culture may objectify or even overlook. I do not want to assume he gave proper presence to the early stages becaue again I have not lived this reality. What I have come to obsever is that he was attempting to connect modern day human development theory with the storyline. I also acknowledge that he only told chapter 3 from Harold and his mothers point of view. He chose not to insert his father’s impact into his early development to sure up the point he was intending to make. So while I found particular moments engaging, I also felt it was a bit short sided.

To be transparent it was hard to follow this book without reading it all the way through. Brooks wrote it in such a narrative form that made it so that each chapter pulled through the story line from the previous chapter. So to comment soley on one chapter means that you inject yourself awkwardly in Harold or Erica’s story.

With all that said, I do think that our make up as human beings and how we think, live and breathe is a direct influence to how we lead. With that said, this book offers an opportunity to insert yourself into a narrative and reflectively process youw onw life in the process.  I actuallly look forward to reengaging with certain chapters and sitting with my thoughts about how it relates to leadership and my life. I will say I do not believe all of it is beneficinary to the discourse of leadership. In saying that I am showing bias in the fact that I can only speak from my own context. What I do again affirm and appreciate is that discuss complex theories in story allows for the masses to find connection points and be able to relate in a way that welcomes openess of understanding without forcing people to remain guarded and unwilling to explore the other side of many philisophical and theoretical discussion.

 

[1] David Brooks, The Social Animal: A Story of How Success Happens (London: Short, 2011), 16.

About the Author

Christal Jenkins Tanks

12 responses to “Mindsight”

  1. Mary says:

    Christal, I thought using story to make his points was interesting, too. I couldn’t identify with either character, but I thought of you as the corporate business woman achieving many things. Of course, as a Christian you might have different motivation – not just for you but serving God also?
    I hadn’t connected those dots when I read the book, but I like the way you pointed out that discussing “complex theories in story allows for the masses to find connection points and be able to relate in a way that welcomes openess of understanding without forcing people to remain guarded and unwilling to explore the other side of many philisophical and theoretical discussion.” Are you suggesting that maybe it is a way for us to examine ourselves in a non-threatening way?

    • Christal Jenkins Tanks says:

      Mary, Yes that is what I am implying. I think that it can be hard for people especially leaders to not feel judged or defensive when behavorial theories are presented as a means to reflect a mirror upon our lives. Story is something that we find ourselves not only engaging in but inserting ourselves into. It is a way for us to connect to the narrative and yet become more self aware.

  2. Lynda Gittens says:

    Christal, I thought his point on mother’s effect on children is essential to their development. They imitate what they see. So are we the cause of the young people’s issues? Now I will admit that I have seen the effect of a mother views imitate by the child but only a small percentage.

    I refuse to accept that my children’s bad habits were copied from me. lol Of course my father ue to say of all my habits why to you all pick my bad ones.

    • Christal Jenkins Tanks says:

      Lynda I laughed out loud when I read your comments because every parent I think says that. I honestly think whether we know it or not we do influence children in a way that makes “carbon copies”. A lot of the things I still do is a result of my parents. That is good or bad. If anything it is a reminder to us that we create patterns that children will imitate and follow. 🙂

  3. mm Katy Drage Lines says:

    “I do not want to assume he gave proper presence to the early stages because again I have not lived this reality.” Actually, you *have* lived this reality of the early stage of life between a mother and child, albeit from Harold’s (the baby’s) perspective. Thought it’s now buried in your unconscious mind, Brooks would say. 😉

    • Christal Jenkins Tanks says:

      Katy you make a great point! I was thinking from the perspective of a mother having a child. Yes I was once a child. My mother and I shared some similar experiences as Julia and Harold 🙂 I am sure it is somewhere in my unconscious mind!

  4. Stu Cocanougher says:

    “I actuallly look forward to reengaging with certain chapters and sitting with my thoughts about how it relates to leadership and my life.|

    I encourage you to check out the audiobook. While this method has shortcomings, this book’s narrative comes to life in the audio version.”

    • Christal Jenkins Tanks says:

      Stu that is a great idea. I think it would be great to hear this book in its entirety being told to me as a full story. I will try to do that! 🙂

  5. Jim Sabella says:

    “I do think that our make up as human beings and how we think, live and breathe is a direct influence to how we lead.” I agree, Christal. The more we know about ourselves as leaders the greater the possibility of our leading well. Enjoyed your post!

    • Christal Jenkins Tanks says:

      Jim self awareness is key! I think it is hard for us as leaders with everything that we have on our plates to take time to reflect on our lives and how they impact the way we lead. I think we all agree that it is something we must do but we need to make the time to do 🙂

  6. You highlighted Brooks talking about our unconscious mind, ‘it has its shortcomings. It needs supervision. But it can be brilliant.’ This part stood out to me as well – the point in a nutshell: a lot of shortcomings, but the potential for brilliance.

    • Christal Jenkins Tanks says:

      Chip yes! I think that statement challenges many of us. To take the risk of knowing something may have shortcomings but the result could be brilliance. I think the question is “whether or not we are aware of our unconscious minds impact, how many of us are willing to allow it to play out knowing it may have shortcomings in order to expose the jewels of our brilliance? “

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