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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.

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Question: Do you have a personal philosophy?

Rosabeth Moss Kanter: My personal philosophy … Do I have a personal philosophy? I have many personal philosophies. I am constantly quoting things to myself. I learned this when I was writing my book “Confidence", and I was studying how great athletes and great sports teams achieve winning streaks. And I learned about self-talk, that athletes engage in self-talk. They're always saying things to themselves. So I have a lot of self-talk. At the moment I'm saying to myself, “Don't push the river. Go with the flow. So I'm going back to Zen statements stemming from my formative years. And I'm doing that because I'm working on some very difficult projects, including a project to bring a new kind of education to Harvard. And I'm working on projects with companies that have some thorny problems to solve. And I'm impatient. I wanna have it done right away. And you have to wait for people to get back to you. You have to wait for coalitions of people to form. Meetings keep getting rescheduled. So I say to myself, “Go with the flow. Don't push the river. But I also know how important it is not to give up. So I repeat to myself, “Everything can look like a failure in the middle. Kanter's Law. I think persisting is more important than almost anything else. You have to listen to negative voices, but I say to myself, “Don't let the voices and the negativity drag you down. So most of my personal philosophies have to do with action … with getting it done.

Recorded on: 6/13/07




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