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As I Opened My Mind, People Rushed to Me

Posted June. 11, 2005 06:48,   


The low profile Lee Myeong-hee, the president of Shinsegae Group, said in an interview with a daily newspaper last month, “My shoulders hurt when I read a book, so I ask somebody else to read a book for me. But I read good books like ‘Creating Minds’ by Howard Garner on my own.” Right after the interview, the book became a best seller within a month, selling 1,500 copies outright. The book came out translated in Korean with the title, “Passion and Temperament” in July 2004, but it was not spotlighted until President Lee mentioned recently, and it just recorded 2,500 copies sold.

At a time when interest in Howard Gardner is heated, we now have another new translated book of Gardner’s titled “Changing Minds,” which is identical to the original title.

Psychologist Howard Garner is a professor at Harvard University as well as an associate professor of Neurology at the Boston University School of Medicine. He has been evaluated as a scholar who waged a revolution in psychology with his prejudice-breaking theories on intelligence, creativity, and leadership.

His words saying that being a genius has noting to do with IQ gathered huge attention as the translated book “Passion and Temperament” released in Korea. According to Gardner, anyone who has an IQ over 120 (which is an average score) can excel with tremendous creativity. And he holds that there is no one single intelligence, but multiple types, and that the difference between genius and a common person is the level of their focus and selection of those intelligences.

He developed his theory of multiple intelligence and categorized them into nine kinds: linguistic intelligence, logical-mathematical intelligence, musical intelligence, bodily-kinesthetic intelligence, spatial intelligence, interpersonal intelligence, naturalistic intelligence, spiritual intelligence, and existential intelligence.

Skilled technicians have a superior bodily-kinesthetic intelligence; architects and sculptors have spatial intelligence; religious leaders and politicians have interpersonal intelligence that is well tuned in catching people’s desires; animal and plant researchers show superior naturalistic intelligence. He added that spiritual and the importance of existential intelligences would receive more emphasis in this modern society, which are related to the capabilities of questioning and thinking of fundamental issues such as “Who am I?” and “Where would I go when I die?” In a nutshell, he provided a good framework for understanding all kinds of modern human beings with different perspectives that characterized the meaning of “being heterogeneous and diverse.”

Then is what determines success and failure dependent on each individual’s focus and selection of intelligence? “Passion and Temperament” spent more pages on the internal aspects of individual human beings, while “Changing Minds” focused more on interpersonal relationships and analyzed how successful people had changed other people’s minds.

Howard analyzes famous politicians, scientists, university presidents, and chief executive officers’ success stories, examines their distinctive intelligences, and introduces how they moved others’ minds.

According to Howard, changing others’ minds is equal to changing the concepts that each individual has. To make it happen, one should acquire the skills and theories necessary to make one’s assertions into stories, use a good combination of “stick and carrot” motivation in managing people, and have the capability to translate one’s own messages into different forms.

Margaret Thatcher, the former prime minister of the U.K., was able to change people’s minds with her simple but powerful stories and her life experiences that were in line with her stories. Ex-President Bill Clinton had a superior interpersonal intelligence in sensing others’ minds. Ex-President of the Republic of South Africa Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi were very good at linguistic and non-linguistic expressions (behaviors), Gardner evaluates. He also points out that the CEO of Cisco, John Chambers, failed to produce change because he relied too much on rhetorical exaggerations.

At a glance, the book looks like an obvious introductory book for success. However, when readers finish the last page and realize that the author himself concludes that the essential factors that can change others’ minds are “sincerity” and “open thinking,” it seems that this is a great message to those who resist various kinds of temptation and try hard to be truthful to the principles and fundamentals of life.

There are other books written by Howard Gardner that have been translated into Korean, including, “Multiple Intelligence” (KimYeongSa), “Good Work” (Trees of Thoughts) and “Leading Minds” (Haenaem).

Mun-MyungHuh angelhuh@donga.com