What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos

1

Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers

2

Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge

3

Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more
Close
With rendition switcher

Transcript

Question: What are you working on now?

 

Nancy Koehn: I’m working on a very small book about Abraham Lincoln, which is a bit like saying I’m hailing a taxi cab on Madison and 54th at 5:00 in New York because everyone is writing books about Lincoln. But I’m writing a little book about Lincoln and what he learned at critical moments along his journey, and why those lessons matter today.

 

Question: Why do the lessons of Lincoln matter today?

 

Nancy Koehn: I realized that some of the lessons her learned – lessons of detachment, and forbearance, and compassion, and patience – were lessons that are relevant both at an individual level to each of us today, and to many of us today, but also relevant on a social or even on a global level. And Lincoln learned interestingly enough – and in this sense the book is unusual, I think – through stumbling; through as he said once in the middle of the Civil War, “through falling to his knees” because he had no other place to go.

And so I’m reconstructing Lincoln’s stumbles and time on the kitchen floor, if you will; or time on the cabin floor, if you will, in order to try and understand how leaders – all of us as teachers, and parents, and citizens – can be made into better citizens, and parents, and teachers, and leaders rather than being born.

I think we suffer a little bit in our moment right now from, “Leaders are born. Where are they?” You know, “How did they get the Oracle at Delphi?” And we’re paying less attention to how we’re made step by step – two steps forward, one back – into better and more effective leaders.

 

Recorded on: June 12, 2007

 

 

Nancy Koehn on the Lessons ...

Newsletter: Share: