Is Modesty the Answer to Trumpism?: Part 1

The Keynes CentreContent, How We Think

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Even at this early stage of his presidency, Mr Trump’s behaviour is too demanding and upsetting for many and it is already a matter of ‘tuning him out’ to preserve peace of mind. Otherwise, his opinion tweeting obsession requires economizing on our attention spans – coming to a sustainable position of him so that we need not think about his every turn.  David Brooks, a generally fair observer of the U.S. scene, recently grappled with this dilemma in a New York Times Op-Ed column.

Brooks returned later this summer to pick up on an implication of his earlier piece suggesting MODESTY is the most powerful answer to fanaticism. Modesty he says is a way of knowing the world which opposes ‘conspiracy mongering mind-sets’:

“It means having the courage to understand that the world is too complicated to fit into one political belief system. It means understanding there are no easy answers or malevolent conspiracies that can explain the big political questions or the existential problems. Progress is not made by crushing some swarm of malevolent foes; it’s made by finding balance between competing truths — between freedom and security, diversity and solidarity. There’s always going to be counter-evidence and mystery. There is no final arrangement that will end conflict, just endless searching and adjustment.”

Here is his Opinion article.

Brooks mentions that over the next few months he’s hoping to write several columns on why modesty and moderation are superior to the spiralling ‘purity movements’  of today and says “It seems like a good time for assertive modesty to take a stand.”

Indeed.

This is part one of a series of blog posts which will keep you posted on these columns by Brooks as they arrive.

Meantime, enjoy reflecting on the ideas of one of the more thoughtful of media columnists.

 

The Keynes CentreIs Modesty the Answer to Trumpism?: Part 1

How to Be The Adult in the Trump Era

The Keynes CentreHow We Think

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The question of adulthood and growing up is often lurking around discourses of Trump, often seen and described as an over-grown child. But perhaps there is also a need to mature on our part in relation to how we think and talk about Trump. Such an observation is made by David Brooks, a New York Times Op-Ed columnist and generally fair observer of the U.S. He begins by venting some frustrations :

“For the past two years Trump has taken up an amazing amount of my brain space. My brain has apparently decided that it’s not interested in devoting more neurons to that guy. There’s nothing more to be learned about Trump’s mixture of ignorance, insecurity and narcissism. Every second spent on his bluster is more degrading than informative.”

David Brooks, New York Times Op-Ed columnist, thinking about Trump

But, continuing about ‘listening to his brain for a change’, Brooks elaborates that it would “mean trying, probably unsuccessfully, to spend less time thinking about Trump the soap opera and more time on questions that surround the Trump phenomena and this moment in history.”

“It is clear that Trump is not just a parenthesis”, Brooks says, and after his presidency “things will not just snap back to ‘normal’”. Referring to ‘dying old demographic, political, even moral orders’, Brooks considers that “… what comes after will be a reaction against rather than a continuing from.”

Ultimately, Brooks asks:

“What lessons are people drawing … and how will those lessons shape what comes next?”

Indeed, we must, as reasoning persons, go on to ask what ought we to do? In brief, the answer is: ‘grow up’.

Susan Nieman, in her book Why Grow Up? Subversive Thoughts for an Infantile Age (2014: 6-8), puts the matter very well when she says:

“Growing up is more a matter of courage than knowledge: all information in the world is no substitute for the guts to use your own judgment…”

and continues

“…courage is required to live with the rift that will run through our lives, however good that may be; ideals of reason tell us how the world should be; experience tells us that it rarely is. Growing up requires confronting the gap between the two – without giving up on either one.”

Referring to how common it is “to meet people who are stuck in the mire of adolescence” and, noting the stance that it is brave to face the rot of the reality that there is no place for ideals any more, Nieman counters:

“Such a standpoint is less brave than you think, for it demands absolutely nothing but an air of urbanity. Far more courage is needed to acknowledge that both ideals and experience make equal claims on us.”

We could add that this is the stance of common cynicism–an easy stance to take up, maybe the easiest.

For Nieman, the bottom line is:

“Doing what you can to move your part of the world closer to the way it should be, while never losing sight of the way that it is, is what being a grown-up comes to.”

The gap between is and ought – how we see the world as it is and how we think it ought to be – is the central challenge in forming a sustainable stock of opinions to guide our behaviour. Just as “so much more is possible than the world we know”, which leads to making the “claim about how things ought to be” (Nieman, 2015: 28), we too can enlarge our own sense of the possibility for ourselves as we deliberately and responsibly shape our stock of opinions in a changing world.

Closing the gap between the is and the ought – the way our world is and the way it should be – is about putting things right. How we bridge that gap requires us to make leaps by exercising our power of judgment when combining reason and passion. We make this leap based on trusting that we are a ‘well-made self’ (Barzun) because we know how we have made it ourselves and have practised living with this dualism without running for simplistic resolutions to this dilemma.

As Nieman says, “…if we are ever to arrive at an adulthood we need not merely acquiesce in but can actively claim as our own”, we must operate at the “space between is and oughtthe space where questions arise.”

Questioning is the fundamental operation among people. We can disagree on opinions, facts, and ideas and so on but we can always ask questions of each other.

Again, Nieman spells out the implication:

Since the questioning activity does not end, “growing up is a matter of holding the is and the ought in balance, it will never be a stable position: each will always seek the upper hand. Hence growing up is not a task that ever stops.”

So it is with making, forming, using, and holding opinions (the topic of our previous blog post ). Opinions are answers to questions we ask ourselves and each other. They are not knowledge – our stock of opinions not a stock of knowledge – but rather what we have come to believe is true while not being certain. Because they govern our behaviour and because they are not certain we must continue the search for truth. A commitment to searching for truth as an element in one’s preferred best working attitude is what distinguishes an adult mind from an immature one.

In a word, growing up demands that we think, and think for ourselves, and engage with each other in dialogue.


The Keynes CentreHow to Be The Adult in the Trump Era

Mr. Trump Has Done One Good Thing for Us Already

The Keynes CentreBusiness & Economy, How We Think, Reading for Change, Words Matter

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‘Opinions’ is one of the hot-button topics of today due in large measure to the impact of President Trump’s behaviour as presidential candidate and president of the United States.The combination of Mr Trump and social media has created the ‘perfect opinion storm’ which continuously engulfs the news media and claims attention from all of us. There has been no U.S. president like Mr Trump for the daily impact he has had on us in the way he has changed the ‘climate of opinion’ about opinions.

Photograph Source: www.cnn.com

A major effect of ‘Storm Trump’ is that his behaviour has single-handily legitimated the expression of any ‘opinion’ and his example has validated the sense of entitlement to ‘my opinion’ no matter how outrageous, discriminatory, or ill-founded. He has brought confusion to political discourse and provoked the normally restrained news media into calling him a liar, describing his statements as lies, and characterising his behaviour in the strongest personality terms.

Trump-as-role-model challenges us to think about how we form, hold and use opinions – an unintended benefit perhaps, but one we should not (cannot?) forego. The crisis he has unleashed has also gifted us an opportunity (or forced the necessity?) to bring some clarity to the confusing field of opinion-making.

A Case Example

We can use Mr Trump himself as a case study for us to think about shaping our opinions and, specifically, whether we form the opinion that he lies.

Keeping a grip on truth in the midst of ‘Storm Trump’ demands much effort and diligence, more than most of us can sustain. In time, we can expect that even the rolling audits which various news media and political websites are compiling on the truthfulness of his words and deeds will become demanding.

Many people will have an opinion about Mr Trump’s behaviour such is his impact worldwide and this poses the question as to how this opinion was formed or acquired. And, if we do not have an opinion already about the status of his endless flow of claims we decide, one way or another, where we stand on Mr Trump relationship to truth in a way that we have not had to do about most U.S. presidents.

We have two options: opt out or engage our minds.

For many, even at this early stage of Mr Trump’s presidency, his behaviour is too much and it is already a question of ‘tuning it out’ to preserve peace of mind. Alternatively, his opinions behaviour requires economizing on our attention – coming to a sustainable assessment of it so that we need not think about his every turn.


The Keynes CentreMr. Trump Has Done One Good Thing for Us Already

Happy Birthday, George Bernard Shaw!

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George Bernard Shaw was born on this day, 26 July 1856. In this letter exchange, John Maynard Keynes shares with him his hopes for his (now) masterpiece ‘The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money’ (1936):

Do know that we are one of the few universities in the world, and the first in Ireland, to house his Collected Papers on Microfilm?

This collection has letters from and to more than 4,000 correspondents which offer a unique insight into the development of Keynes’s thinking. We also hold the 30-Volume digital collection of Keynes’s Collected Writings.

 Both collections are available for consultation. Access is by appointment. More info, click here.


The Keynes CentreHappy Birthday, George Bernard Shaw!

How Do We Hold to a Stock of Old Opinions?

The Keynes CentreHow We Think

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© MIKE O’DONNELL

American philosopher and psychologist William James describes the ‘observable processes’ of how people settle into new opinions by starting with the fact that any individual has a “stock of old opinions” (p.23-4).

A person’s current stock of opinions is put under strain when she or he meets a ‘new experience’, such as

somebody contradicting their opinions
finding that their opinions contradict each other
becoming aware of facts with which their current opinions are incompatible, or
new desires arising which the current stock of opinions does not satisfy.

James suggests that these types of confrontations with the existing stock of opinions give rise to an ‘inward trouble’ to which, until then, the person’s mind had been ‘a stranger’. Consequently, the person seeks to escape from this unease by modifying her or his ‘previous mass of opinions’. People do this, according to James, in the following way: a person saves as much of the stock of opinions as she or he can – “for in this matter of belief we are all extreme conservatives” – so that a person

“…tries to change first this opinion, and then that (for they resist change very variously), until at last some idea comes up which he can graft upon the ancient stock with a minimum of disturbance of the latter

that is, some idea is found that

“…mediates between the stock [of old opinions] and the new experience [challenging the existing stock] and runs them into one another most felicitously and expediently.” (p.24)

In other words, the new idea facilitates accommodating the new experience into the existing stock of opinions with the least discomfort as possible. This new idea, as James puts it, is taken on as the true one, since it

“…preserves the older stock of truth with a minimum of modifications, stretching them just enough to make them admit their novelty, but conceiving that in ways as familiar as the case leaves possible.”

The result is little change in that the “…most violent revolutions in an individual’s beliefs leave most of his old order standing” and fundamental ideas, such as, “[t]ime and space, cause and effect, nature and history, and one’s own biography remain untouched.” (p.24; emphases added)

James continues to explain, first, that the role of the new idea (truth) is to limit disruption and maintain the current position as it is

“… always a go-between, a smoother-over of transitions…”

© MIKE O’DONNELL

Since, in its role, it

“…marries old opinions to new fact so as ever to show a minimum jolt, a maximum of continuity. We hold a theory true just in proportion to its success in solving this ‘problem of maxima and minima’…”

He points out to ‘success in solving the problem of minimizing jolt and maximizing continuity as being a ‘matter of approximation’ because

“[w]e say that this theory solves [the ‘problem of maxima and minima’] on the whole more satisfactorily than that theory; but that means more satisfactorily to ourselves, and individuals will emphasise their points of satisfaction differently.” (p.24; emphases added)

He then addresses, second, the role played by the older truths (current stock of opinions) whose influence he sees as ‘absolutely controlling’. This is because ‘loyalty to them is the first principle’ and, as far as James is concerned, ‘in most cases it is the only principle’ since

“…by far the usual way of handling phenomena so novel that they would make for a serious rearrangement of our preconceptions is to ignore them altogether, or to abuse those who bear witness for them.”(p.24; emphases added)

ECHOES OF JAMES TODAY

“Increasingly, we are snugly wrapped in our worldviews. Conservatives see everything in blue, progressives in red. The internet seems designed to back up our opinions, because when we’re online we make a habit of seeking out the like-minded. We gang up on those we disagree with, rather than listening carefully to contrary opinions.”

David Mikics, What Crime and Punishment can teach you that the internet can’t, New Statesman, 25 November 2013.

The overall outcome of the interaction of the two aspects identified by James is that:

“A new opinion counts a ‘true’ just in proportion as it gratifies the individual’s desire to assimilate the novel in his experience to his beliefs in stock. It must both lean on old truth and grasp new fact; and its success…in doing this, is a matter for the individual’s appreciation. When old truth grows, then, by new truth’s addition, it is for subjective reasons.” (p.25; emphases added)

Therefore, pointing out that “[w]e are in the process and obey its reasons”, James states that the “truest idea” is the one that “performs most felicitously its function of satisfying our double urgency”. First, this idea

i. “makes itself true, gets itself classed as true, by the way it works”

and, second,

ii. “grafting itself then upon the ancient body of truth, which thus grows much as a tree grows by the activity of a new layer of cambium.” (p.25)

In this way, according to James, we revise slowly our opinions and only under strong pressures for change. Incrementally we add thin layers of the new to the bulk of the old. We lean towards the closed feeling for holding to certainty rather than open feeling of searching for truth.

Slowly, reluctantly and with a sense of loss we may move from the past to the future. Otherwise, as Robert Pirsig famously said, in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, we are in ‘stuckness’.


The Keynes CentreHow Do We Hold to a Stock of Old Opinions?

Capsule: Instant Opinions

The Keynes CentreFacts Change

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Andrew Marr and Diane Abbott

As the 2017 UK Election campaigns intensified, and within a week of the bombing atrocity at the Manchester Arena, the Shadow Home Secretary Ms Diane Abbott (Labour) made a statement on the Andrew Marr Show (BBC1 TV, Sunday 28 May 2017) in response to questioning about her change of views on terrorism. She said:

“…what I’m saying to you is this. It was 34 years ago, I had a rather splendid afro at the time. I don’t have the same hairstyle and I don’t have the same views. It is 34 years on. The hairstyle has gone and some of the views have gone.”

Repeatedly questioned by the interviewer, Abbott did what politicians like to do, she repeated as follows:

  • “It was 34 years ago and I’ve moved on and the hairstyle is gone, the views have gone. We’ve all moved on, haven’t you Andrew?”
  • “It was 34 years ago. I’ve moved on.”
  • “It was 34 years ago and I’ve moved on.”

Following on the Abbott interview, Marr interviewed the Home Secretary, Ms Amber Rudd, who commented on the Abbott segment as follows:

“What I would say to Diane Abbott is that I’ve changed my hairstyle a few times in 34 years as well. But I’ve not changed my view about how we keep the British public safe.”

Press response was generally negative to Ms Abbott’s comments and, in particular, to her reference to her hairstyle changes. Social media participants, as always, reached for the usual instant opinions and tirades which are a feature of that medium.

For example, The ‘Steerpike’ column of The Spectator Website, which carried the relevant interview segments, and (inaccurately) quoting both interviewees, interjected that:

“Happily, Amber Rudd was on hand to put Abbott’s hair comments into perspective;”

before quoting the comment above.

Two related questions arise as to whether Ms Rudd’s ‘response’ really put Abbott’s hair comments “into perspective” and whether the general condemnation on grounds of trivialising a serious matter by reference to changing hairstyles was valid. The presumed answers should be tested.

There is another way of looking at this interchange in which Rudd’s position, generally accounted the ‘winner’, as these things are presented in the media, is less clear and, indeed, may come out on the wrong side.

John Maynard Keynes. © MIKE O’DONNELL

If we start with a statement and question attributed to John Maynard Keynes:

“When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?”

then Rudd’s position does not look so tenable and Abbott’s position looks less untenable.

The facts of terrorism have changed, and changed very dramatically over three decades. The nature of terrorism threats to the UK – from the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) – is fundamentally different now. Indeed, in themselves, the use of ordinary vans to murder people by running them down, suicide killers and no warning bombings, are obvious indicators of the change.

Despite the great changes, Ms Rudd is saying that she has not changed her view about how to keep the British public safe over 34 years. This is hardly encouraging. Without being an expert in terrorism or counter-terrorism, it is not believable that the same methods as were used thirty years ago would work to protect against today’s entirely different threats.

On the other hand, Ms Abbott, implicitly acknowledged that situations changed over three decades – the facts changed – and, accordingly, she changed her views, presumably to correspond to the new facts (threats), just as Keynes held was required (Her unfortunate use of ‘changing hairstyles’, metaphor, although giving the press and social media something with which to whip her, is neither here nor there so far as the issue of terrorism threats is concerned).

In so far as the important matter of how to hold opinions is concerned, the Abbott position is correct and the Rudd position is wrong.

The Keynes CentreCapsule: Instant Opinions

Insightful Reading: Benefits of Reading with Goodwill in a Hurried Age

The Keynes CentreReading for Change

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© MIKE O’DONNELL

We’ve just returned from a great one-day symposium about Close Reading, organised by Billy Clark and Paul Cobley of Middlesex University. Here are some of our thoughts on its benefits for Personal and Professional Development:

Repeatedly we are reminded about the importance of reading. There has been much research pointing to the benefits to physical and psychological health. Sue Wilkinson, CEO of The Reading Agencynotes that reading can help prevent conditions such as stress, depression:

“people who read for pleasure regularly report fewer feelings of stress and depression than non-readers. Large scale studies in the U.S. show that being more engaged with reading, along with other hobbies, is associated with a lower subsequent risk of incidents of dementia.”

A recent survey of 1,500 adult readers found that 76% of them said that reading improves their life and helps them feel good. Josie Billington, at the Centre for Research Into Reading at the University of Liverpool, adds that it has also been shown to improve empathy and increase social support:

“In addition to enhancing willingness and ability to communicate with others, reading helps promote respect for and tolerance of others’ views. “

“Readers find it easier to make decisions, plan, and prioritize, and this may be because they are more able to recognize that difficulty and setback are unavoidable aspects of human life.”

The benefits of reading go beyond health and social issues. These benefits can also be a powerful tool for Leadership Development. Top entrepreneurs and key political figures make reading a major part of their daily lifestyle: Warren Buffett, for instance, devotes about 80% of each day to reading. Bill Gates reads a book a week while Elon Musk, when asked how he learned to build rockets, he said “I read books”.

Barrack Obama is also an avid reader and recalled in a recent interview that his interest in public service and politics merged with the idea of storytelling as it enabled him to “learn how to listen to people’s stories” and “find what’s sacred in other people’s stories, then you’ll be able to forge a relationship that lasts”.

These intelligent readers are not just isolated examples. A study of 1,200 wealthy people found that they all have a dedication to reading in common. They do not just read anything. They are highly selective about what they read and prefer to be educated to being entertained or reading for killing time. They see books as a powerful gateway to learning and knowledge. 

Indeed, when surveying what scholars and practitioners have to say about the benefits of reading for Leadership Development, we found that it can serve two functions. At a personal level, books can expand awareness of world around us and enhance our understanding of our own life. At a society level, they may help us in questioning the roles of our institutions and of those people who administer them and how we, individually and collectively, should find and create meaning for ourselves and our fellow humans. These are questions any worker, in any sector, face today. In summary, reading can:

  • Sharpen intelligence and broaden perspectives
  • Allow us to examine how people think, judge and act.
  • Make people better communicators or conversationalists
  • Improve emotional intelligence
  • Expand mind and create a new path for self
  • Enhance our thoughts and actions
  • Build and deepen relationships through shared learning
  • Give us (and our organisations) a sense of place in the expanse of human history
  • Offer a lifelong learning toolbox to think about ourselves and the world

You are how you read

As important as acquiring a healthy habit of reading carefully selected books is attending to how we read them. This is particularly key in times when ‘power-reading’ is highly promoted across the web (think about the many articles with tips on how-to-read-so-many-books-a-day-or-week-or-year) and when there is a growing attention-deficit disorder, making us more susceptible to information overload (often of fake news and half-truths).



So we may start to read more, but how well are we reading? And what is the reading doing for us?

Is it purportedly providing a list of quick-fix formulas or is it helping us think about our own thinking and the thinking of others?

At The Keynes Centre we work with a type of reading – and we actually extend the term ‘reading’ to other types of ‘texts’, including films – that is both ‘slow’ and ‘close’. We call it Reading with Goodwill, following John Maynard Keynes who believed that:

© MIKE O’DONNELL – COURTSKETCHER.COM

“A reader should acquire a wide general acquaintance with books as such, so to speak. He should approach them with all his senses; he should know their touch and their smell. He should learn how to take them in his hands, rustle their pages and reach in a few seconds a first intuitive impression of what they contain. He should, in the course of time, have touched many thousands, at least ten times as many as he really reads. He should cast an eye over books as a shepherd over sheep, and judge them with the rapid, searching glance with which a cattle-dealer eyes cattle. He should live with more books than he reads, with a penumbra of unread pages, of which he knows the general character and content, fluttering round him…”
(‘On Reading Books’, broadcast on the BBC Radio on 1 June 1936)

How to Read with Goodwill?

© MIKE O’DONNELL

Reading with Goodwill requires entering in two types of dialogue: one with yourself and one with the author. A third type of dialogue, with peers, may come in when you are reading as part of a Reading circle or even a Book Club.

There are many ways of engaging in these two types of dialogue and one particular method we like is Close Reading.

Also called ‘Close Analysis‘ and ‘Explication de texte‘, this method is commonly associated with New Criticism within Literary Studies. It experienced great popularity in the period between 1930s and 1970s. For us, it should never go out of fashion.

Since then, there have been various debates ranging from its efficacy in meticulously analysing elementary features of a text to its failure in taking into account historical context. We will not get into these debates, but you can get a sense of these here and here. Suffice it to say how we have been using Close Reading in our Personal Professional Development programmes:

For us, Close Reading is more than a literary technique – it is an etiquette of reading, an (ethical) attitude for engaging in a dialogue with yourself and with authors. It is a tool of genuine dialogue which has the below features:

  • Taking responsibility for the reading encounter – understanding that both yourself and the author are ‘meaning-making systems’, i.e. you are both trying to make sense of the world
  • Slowing down the mind while reading – read with a pen/pencil in hand, annotate, “break down the book”
  • Observing your reactions to the ideas as you engage with the thinking of the author – use the power of journaling to capture and record these observations and the subsequent reflections and evaluations
  • Posing questions and working out answers – this is a crucial way to read to understand (not read to ‘critically’ react to) an author’s point of view or argument – he/she might be working out their ideas – stay with him/her, be patient!
  • Practicing using the author’s ideas – Once the author’s main ideas are really understood, you can decide whether you want to make them your own and use them for better thinking, judging and relating to other people

Ultimately, Close Reading is about attending to your own reading and thinking and discovering what happens when you think and engage with another ‘thinking’ being. You will then see that the learnings from your reading encounter translate to ‘the business of life’ as Virginia Woolf noted in her great book A Room of One’s Own:

“since a novel has this correspondence to real life, its values are to some extent those of real life”.

There is a truthfulness involved in reading with goodwill, or close/slow reading – a relationship of agreement, if only temporary for the duration of the reading experience , between the reader and the book– as we attend to both our reading and the author’s writing.

For this reason, in all our programmes, we think of our approach to Close Reading in terms of a metaphor taken from the book of a friend, Garrett Barden, called Towards Self-Meaning (1969):

“If you are trying to teach someone how to drive a car there comes a point when you have to vacate the driving the seat and let the learner take your place. Eventually the learner has to teach himself. Certainly he can profit from the hints that the experienced driver gives him, but in the end he must drive himself.”

Our approach to Close Reading, then, is something like the hints the experienced driver can give.

Off you go driving…


The Keynes CentreInsightful Reading: Benefits of Reading with Goodwill in a Hurried Age

Happy 134th Birthday John Maynard Keynes!

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john maynard keynes, lydia lopokova

© Mike O’Donnell

John Maynard Keynes was born on this day, 5 June 1883. He went on to become one of the most influential thinkers and international statesmen of the 20th century.

Keynes was a firm believer of the power of theories in guiding how we think and relate to people.

His life was an exemplary journey of transformation as he escaped from powerful (old) ways of thinking about problems and worked out a new way of thinking which revolutionized how we think about major issues.

The journey of this real ‘Thought Leader’ illustrates what our Transformative Thinking approach stands for and underpins all the work we do here at The Keynes Centre:

To change our world we must move from thinking through the minds of others into thinking for ourselves and taking responsibility for creating our own Leadership Minds.

Visit our award-nominee Interactive E-book John Maynard Keynes: The Lives of a Mind to explore the many facets of John Maynard Keynes’s life:



The Keynes CentreHappy 134th Birthday John Maynard Keynes!

Congrats to our Reading for Change 2016/17 Group!

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Best wishes to our Book Club group who finished their Reading for Change programme last night! For eight months
participants read six mind-stimulating books, engaged in thought-provoking facilitated dialogues, and journaled about their experience. We hope you found the learning as insightful as we did!

Congratulations to Fergus, Martha, Gerard, Evan, Clare, Con, Kevin, Niamh, Garret and Daniel! We look forward to working with you again.

Dr Assumpta O’Kane and participants discuss Leadership Growth through Adult Mental Development.

Many thanks to The Keynes Centre Team for their dedication and hard work and to Tim Clarke, from Waterstones Cork, for the great partnership for a second year.


Interested in Growing your Leadership Mind in a unique way?

The next Book Club series begins in September 2017. Expressions of interest are now being taken and early booking is advised as limited spaces available.

To secure your place, click here. For more details on this unique Leadership Programme, click here.

We are also running a shorter reading programme this Summer called The Assumptive Dive. Explore with Professor Connell Fanning the sources of opinions and beliefs which silently shape our thinking and behaviour about key matters in human affairs. Programme starts in 20 June.

For more details, click here. To book your place, click here.


The Keynes CentreCongrats to our Reading for Change 2016/17 Group!

The Power of Metaphors for Communicating

The Keynes CentreWords Matter

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Metaphors are essential for conveying the intangibles of life – feelings, ideas, beauty. Great leaders understand this and it is part of their effect on people – how they affect people and induce them to share their vision.

David Brooks

© Mike O’Donnell

Most of the metaphors we use in our daily lives are dead. We hardly ever notice them. They have become clichés and we treat them (unconsciously) as literal.Hence the deadness of most communications.

So, when a fresh metaphor comes along, we sit up. It helps us understand something in a new way and think about it differently thereafter. Many today are looking to understand President Trump – how he thinks, how his mind works – and to convey that idea to others.  Few do well at it.

And David Brooks, Op-Ed Columnist of the New York Times, has now given us one of the best so far about Trump’s thinking.

When he says that Trump’s thoughts are “often just six fireflies beeping randomly in a jar” we see President Trump in a different light.

Could we do better to convey the feeling of that mystery of mysteries?


The Keynes CentreThe Power of Metaphors for Communicating