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Five New Minds for the New Year

Five minds brainPerhaps you have heard of Howard Gardner, best known in educational circles for his theory on multiple intelligences.  Gardner asserted that there are eight intelligences: linguistic, logic-mathematical, musical, spatial, bodily/kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalistic.  As coaches, we tap into these to help clients discover new perspectives.   For example, body-centered coaching is quickly becoming an area that many coaches are interested in developing.

But did you know that Howard Gardner recently outlined 5 “new minds” that will be required for the 21st century?  These new minds, as defined by Gardner include:

  1. The Disciplined Mind – A mind that can concentrate, hold attention, and understand in-depth.  In the digital world, the temptation is to take in snippets of information rather than to learn deeply.  However scholarship is a prerequisite to new ideas.   As Gardner stated, “You can’t think outside of the box until you know what the box is.”
  2. The Synthesized Mind- A mind that can blend and compare concepts. Cognitive flexibility.
  3. The Creating Mind- A mind that can create new ideas. The willingness to make mistakes en route to new discoveries. Imagination!
  4. The Respectful Mind- A mind that can understand the perspectives of another especially those who are from a different culture.
  5. The Ethical Mind- A mind that does not confuse resourcefulness with cheating.

When I learned of these new intelligences, I was struck by how important each of these is to coaching and the coaching relationship.  Hence, I have reworded these new intelligences in the vernacular coaches typically use:

  1. The Disciplined Mind- As coaches, can we listen deeply?  Concentrate?  Hold our attention for the client?
  2. The Synthesized Mind- Can we dance in the moment with the client?  Blend ideas?  Be flexible?
  3. The Creating Mind- Isn’t coaching all about discovering new territory?
  4. The Respectful Mind- We are called as coaches to take the perspective of the client without judgment.  The less we have in common with the client, the more we need to be mindful of this.
  5. The Ethical Mind- As coaches, we operate under a code of ethics.


Coaching truly is a 21st century profession.  As we begin 2013, how will you use these new intelligences in your practice?

Written by Ann C. Holm for MCA Minnesota

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