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

SCRABBLE

Written by: on March 15, 2018

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Reading David Brook’s book, The Social Animal, was similar to playing Scrabble. You get so many letter tiles at the beginning of the game and your objective is to create as many words (legitimate) with them. This book gives so many scenarios and your objective is to connect them in the form of points.

This book shared the life of two individuals who married. I kept rereading these chapters to find the points of leadership and global perspective. I read reviews of the book to formulate the purpose for reading this book. One said, “This is the story of how success happens. It is told through the lives of one composite American couple, Harold and Erica—how they grow, push forward, are pulled back, fail, and succeed. Drawing on a wealth of current research from numerous disciplines, Brooks takes Harold and Erica from infancy to school.” [1]  Upon reading this, I decided to reread it to see their views. I then found a video with Brooks speaking on the Social Animal.

His personality is one of knowledge blended with comedy. He shared stories as a lead into his points.  For example, he spoke about when he met “Mitt Romney and made fun of his son’s names. He addressed how he introduced himself and that he gave a name to each person he just met. His journey meeting politicians and observing their mannerism brought him to this question: ‘Why are the most socially-attuned people on earth completely dehumanized when they think about policy?’” [2] He concluded that “we’ve inherited a view of human nature based on the notion that we’re divided selves, that reason is separated from the emotions and that society progresses to the extent that reason can suppress the passions.” [3]

He spoke on how children play off the emotions and vibes of their mom. How moms raise the kids by their choice of food, schooling, and social life. He referred to the parent as “uber-moms, who are highly successful career women who have taken time off to make sure all their kids get into Harvard.” [4]  Through his research on human minds, he had three key points:

1. The conscious mind writes the unconscious mind does the work

2. Emotions are at the center of our thinking – emotions are the foundation of our reason

3. We are not primarily self-contained individuals; we’re social animals, not rational animals. [5]

Listening to him was inspiring and encouraging. So, reread the book for the fourth time. I found points through his story on Harold that reminded me of me. Harold had street smarts and “impressive social awareness, yet he had issues in the classroom settings” (117) That’s me! His high school teacher, Ms. Taylor, invested in his future by giving him a book by Edith Hamilton, The Greek Way.  She encouraged him to write an essay using the knowledge of the book and compare it to his high school life. Her approach was written in steps.

Step One:  She encouraged him to read books on the Greek life. These books were to the key to his desire for knowledge. (127)

Step Two: Praise them for the hard work they do. (129)

Step Three: To help Harold tacit knowledge of Greek life to the surface.  She advised Harold to keep a journal of his thoughts.                                                                    Her basic rule was students should be 75 percent finished with a paper before he sits down to write it. His mind should connect                                                                things in different ways and allow insights to pop into his head. He should journal so that he could retrieve the knowledge that                                                                was buried inside and convert the intuition he developed into a language. (133)

Step Four: Take time to encode information before beginning their papers, make an argument and bring it all to a point.  Harold                                                               followed her guidelines but still had a problem with writing the story. Harold had not mastered his data but it was mastering him. (137)

 

He had so much information formulating in his mind that he had shut out those things that did not relate to what he was writing about. He wrote notes and arranged them in some order to assist him in formulating his thoughts and knowledge. He decided to sleep “which scientist says help one’s brain consolidate memories, organizes the things learned that day and reinforces the changes in the brain from the previous day’s activities.” (140)  When he awoke, the ideas began to come together, he had solved his problem, had a theme for his paper and knew the solution.  ‘Robert Burton referred to that feeling as a mental sensation that happens to us.’” (141) Harold finally” rose to success (thumos).” (145)

David says we were the “children of the French Enlightenment believing that reason is the highest of the faculties. We believe that success is measurable by grades, degrees, etc. He points out that: gifts are mindsight – the ability to enter into others minds and learn what they have to offer; and some have metis – called street smarts (a sensitivity to the physical environment).” [6]  He mentioned Greek gifts in the book and how Harold began “mastering the core knowledge, marinating that knowledge in his mind, placing them in order, consolidating and merging the data, then heading to the finished product.” (144) He ended the chapter saying “this would be his path to wisdom and success.” (145)

“The Greeks say we suffer our way to wisdom. Hofstadter understood through his suffering how deeply interpenetrated we are.”  This is similar to the points of author Chand’s book, Leadership Pain, “Growth = Change; Change = Loss; Loss = Pain, thus Growth = Pain;” [7] and authors McIntosh and Rima book, Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership, “the dark side can pawn bad or good, joy or pain, potential or problems.” [8]     

 

            [1] Book Browser, post to “The Social Animal,” accessed March 13, 2018, https://www.bookbrowse.com/bb_briefs/detail/index.cfm/ ezine_preview_number/6057/the-social-animal.

            [2] TED, Ideas Worth Spreading, Daniel Brooks, accessed March 14, 2018, https://www.ted.com/talks/ david_brooks_the_social_animal/

             [3] IBID.

            [4] IBID.

            [5] IBID.

            [6] IBID.

             [7] Samuel R. Chand, Leadership Pain: The Classroom for Growth, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 2015), 5.

            [8] Gary L. McIntosh and Samuel D. Rima, Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership, (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2007), 100.

About the Author

Lynda Gittens

7 responses to “SCRABBLE”

  1. Lynda Gittens says:

    sorry the system kept rearranging my format.

  2. mm Jennifer Dean-Hill says:

    Lynda, you captured the ethos of the book with: “His personality is one of knowledge blended with comedy. He shared stories as a lead into his points.” I enjoyed the subtle humor too, as well as the points he weaved throughout the story. It was an interesting and entertaining way to learn new information. It was like he provided visuals along with introducing his concepts. I also found it confusing at times as to what exactly his point was.
    I’m impressed you read it a few times!

  3. Mary says:

    Wow, Lynda! Four times! I enjoyed the book too, but not that much!
    Your summary of how Harold learned to learn is really great. Brooks indicates that that is why Harold succeeded.
    I wonder though what makes some students choose to put all their effort into something like that and other students to go home and watch TV or play on their devices? Brooks didn’t really answer those questions for me. What do you think?

  4. Lynda Gittens says:

    Jen, I work best with the TV on. It’s the noise not the content that keeps me alert.

    I read and skimmed throught the book. ugh

  5. mm Katy Drage Lines says:

    Your retelling of Harold’s paper-writing process reminded me of my high school history teacher’s advice to study hard for days leading up to a test. The day before the test we should stop, not study a bit, and let it all rest. I’ve referred to that as letting our thoughts “marinate.” It’s a good way to allow our minds to settle.

  6. Jim Sabella says:

    Lynda, you have captured some interesting nuances of the book. “Harold had not mastered his data but it was mastering him.” I feel a lot like that recently. Thanks for a great post, Lynda. You read the book four times!

  7. Lynda,
    Good, well-researched post. You highlighted Brooks’ third point: ‘We are not primarily self-contained individuals; we’re social animals, not rational animals.’

    I really resonated with this point especially. While each of us, of course, have individual, personal relationships with God…. so much of our faith is relational and communal.
    When we only focus on ‘me and Jesus’, we miss a lot of the plan.

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