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Intellectual Capital and Mental Literacy: the Keys to Corporate Success?

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  1. Intellectual Capital and Mental Literacy
  2. The Awakening of a Sleeping Giant
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All your life you've been taught what to learn, but not how to learn. However, if you possessed this one fundamental literacy — literacy of the brain — you would be able to master all other literacies with ease. Learn more about mind mapping, mnemonics, and memory loss.
This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

In the middle of the modern era in which we still exist, computers did not. They burst into existence, and within a few decades, have multiplied faster than the human race itself. Computers have taken over the world's business operations systems, its information systems. Calculating at billions of operations per second, computers have made significant contributions to many of humankind's most prized intellectual disciplines.

So powerful and important has all this become that business spending on knowledge management, information technology (IT), and leadership development is becoming the largest item in many capital-spending budgets. This trend is predicted to increase for the foreseeable future.

Imagine, now, that within the next few years computer research comes up with the next generation supercomputer, which by comparison would make the best computers we have today the equivalent of a pea in relation to the size of our planet.

Imagine that this new supercomputer could, in addition to being fundamentally competent in mathematical calculation, learn three languages fluently, each language with a vocabulary of 25,000 words (equivalent to Shakespeare's vocabulary in English); memorize multiple gigabytes of knowledge in general (rather than only in specific) areas, and recall them by random rather than linear access; learn from its own experience, thus self-developing its own programs; program other computers to a high level; operate those same computers; read books and incorporate the newly assimilated knowledge into existing and relevant data bases; think creatively, in a goal-directed manner, without external input; and organize its own work schedule on the basis of its externally and internally generated goals.

Imagine that this supercomputer could also communicate in its various languages with human beings; could move independently, safely, and with purpose in a local office environment; and could move similarly in a national or international environment.

Imagine even further that this incredible new computer operated on a mere 1012 chips aligned in multiple parallel; that this configuration allowed it to function normally in most of the sense areas of sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch, and kinesthesia; imagine that it could operate independently of an electrical power source; and finally that its multiple parallel processing system gave it the ability to generate functionally infinite patterns of thought for instances of intelligence.

What would be an appropriate name for your masterwork? The human brain!

Why, then, with over six billion copies of the super-bio-computer "in production," is the sum total of its interactions so grossly inadequate, and why did each one, as surveys over the last 40 years have confirmed, experience in some deep degree the following problems:

  • Memory

  • Concentration

  • Communication: presentation skills (public speaking)

  • Communication: presentation skills (written)

  • Creative and innovative thinking

  • Reading speed

  • Reading comprehension

  • Decision making

  • Thinking

  • Organization

  • Planning

  • Problem solving

  • Boredom

  • Analytical thinking

  • Strategic thinking

  • Time management

  • Stress

  • Fatigue

  • Assimilation of information

  • Decline of mental ability with age

Intellectual Capital and Mental Literacy

The answer to the above conundrum lies in the nature of what we have been taught, how we have been taught, and what we have not been taught.

In their academic careers, those who have become business executives have spent, on average, between 1,000 and 10,000 hours each on the learning of literature, mathematics, the sciences, economics, geography, history, and languages. In other words, their brains have been confronted with what to learn for tens of thousands of hours.

What about "how to learn"—the development of intellectual capital and mental literacy?

To our race's credit, we pour hundreds of billions of dollars worldwide into completing our mastery of literacy—the verbal and the numerical alphabets. To our discredit, we ignore the most basic and most important "alphabet" of all—the alphabets of the brain, both physiological and behavioral. If we possessed this one fundamental literacy, we would be able to master all other literacies with ease.

Exercise 1 Mental Literacy Quotient


In your entire school career, were you taught more than two hours about




The number of your brain cells and how they function?




The difference in your memory functions while you are learning and after you have learned?




How to apply your creativity to any subject?




How your thinking affects the growth of your brain cells?




How to "ride the waves" of concentration?




How to raise your I.Q.?




The relationship between physical and mental health?




How to apply learning theory to your own learning?




The different functions of your left and right cortexes?




The rhythms of memory?




Your eye–brain relationship and how to control it for improving the intake of information?




How to take notes that increase both your memory and your creativity?




Do you think that




Memory naturally declines with age?




The brain loses brain cells with age?




Children learn languages faster than adults?




Each alcoholic drink costs you 1,000 or more brain cells?




Have you ever caught yourself saying any of the following?




I'm not creative.




I have the world's worst memory.




I'm not very good at mathematics.




I can't sing.




I can't do art.




I'm stupid.




Circle the correct answer:





The percentage of the brain we consciously use is approximately

1 percent

20 percent

50 percent

Most of us are by definition both literate and numerate, but what about our mental literacy? Consider the following as a guide to your MLQ (Mental Literacy Quotient):

Exercise 2 Creativity Exercise

1. In 1 minute, jot down all the possible uses you can think of for a safety pin.

2. In 1 minute, jot down all those things for which you cannot use a safety pin.

You would be truly mentally literate if you answered yes to questions 1 to 12, no to questions 13 to 22, 1 percent to question 23, and you found eight or more uses for a safety pin and zero ways in which you cannot use one. A score of even 30 percent on these questions would place you in the top 1 percent of the mentally literate!

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