Not many commentators, and certainly not the author of LEAP!, would argue that actor Harrison Ford’s revered “Indiana Jones” character is a great role model for dolphin-thinking traits.

But who could forget that landmark scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark when Marion has been captured by the Nazis and Indy is rushing to save her? Suddenly, a fierce-faced Arabian swordsman confronts our hero, bladed weapon raised menacingly. Knowing he has no time to waste in a sword fight, Indy just pulls a pistol and shoots the guy. Problem solved.

Metaphorically speaking, dolphinthinkers do things like that. But what else do they do that might help you recognize that you are in the company of someone who thinks this way?

Here are some qualities of thinking or behavior that may cause you to suspect that a dolphinthinker is close by (and that you might even be one yourself):

Crisp, concrete, down-to-earth explanations of difficult, complex issues. Sometimes, a dolphinthinker sounds like a mystic, but only because of the intuitive strength often found in his or her gut-hunch appraisals of how the world works, what makes sense and what can be reliably depended on and expected.

An unrelenting questioning of where basic causes lie and what can be learned from mistakes. In the dolphinthinker’s ethos, there is little interest in blaming or attempting to shame or justifying one’s own actions (or, for that matter, asking for forgiveness for having taken a risk in the first place).

Little effort to “toot one’s own horn” unless it helps to serve as a catalyst for triggering a needed result or advances worthwhile matters in other ways. One reason it is sometimes difficult to single out users of the dolphinthinker’s belief structure is because they don’t typically play to an audience unless playing to one is how they make their living or helps to advance their personal vision or mission. They are their own best acknowledgers—and their own most observant and demanding critics.

A highly functional understanding of what it means to be personally responsible Dolphins may be observed picking up nails that they spot in parking lots, turning off lights that others have left burning or scooping up other people’s litter—not because of a sense of duty but because they choose to in the interest of just taking better care of a world often in need of someone who understands, as the character in the movie Mindwalk did, that “healing the universe is an inside job.”

A respect for weighty projects but little interest in creating empires of authority and control. Dolphinthinkers say, “I am here for the duration”—meaning that as long as it makes sense, he or she can be counted on. But the moment competency wanes, promises are broken, the pledged resources don’t materialize or the project ceases to offer a challenge or a desirable outcome, dolphins tend to let go and move on to something more promising, productive or satisfying.

New freedoms from compulsions. To have it is to enjoy it, but there is little that dolphins genuinely require other than the basics with which to make good choices and get good results. If something is judged essential, they will usually find a way to get it, but there is little craving for non-essentials. Compulsive have-to’s are pretty much out; creative make-do’s are nearly always in. Fears, guilt, sorrows of the pedestrian kind—these emotions are quickly processed and left behind or transmuted into something positive and useful in the dolphin method of information processing.

An uncanny sense of what is important for the big picture and the long haul. Seeing the metapattern just comes naturally. Seeing the interconnections, making the associations, looking for the whole, and not getting lost in the parts. Understanding how nature—or the butler—might have done it. And understanding how the new elements of the new global economy interrelate and what will help to suffice in a new kind of world.

An innate joy in seeing others succeed. And an unusually selfless nature, as long as a basic fairness is maintained and—to say it again—as long as events, actions and outcomes make sense. For the dolphin, nonsense, generally, is out.

Above all, dolphinthinkers enjoy breaking through and being in the company of like-spirited individuals. This is why the pursuit of positive-sum outcomes and the encouragement of non-zero-sumness are so indisputably a part of the dolphin’s natural habitat.

If dolphinthinkers have a motto, they probably borrowed it from the late Hugh Downs and ABC’s 20/20: “We’re in touch, so you be in touch.” Their networks of colleagues, friends, clients and acquaintances are genuinely global, and their capacity to unearth useful information and allies is impressive. Paraphrasing Will Rogers, they seldom meet a deal they don’t like—if it makes sense. If it makes that much sense, eventually they will find a way to make something worthwhile happen. Whatever is happening at the moment, largo or fortissimo, they tend to view it as a treatable condition, one to reward with a breakthrough if possible, one to muddle through on, if necessary. The attitude can be described as a blend between the late Gilda Radner’s Saturday Night Live character’s “It’s always something” outlook and Morita therapist David K. Reynolds’ reality-based admonition to “do what needs to be done next.”

Because of all these “brain” calibrations, dolphinthinkers tend to show up more in certain places than others. Though they aren’t guaranteed to turn up a dolphin, these natural waters include, but aren’t limited to, entrepreneurial startups, places where cultural cross currents run swift, mentoring opportunities that augur unusual payoffs, leadership roles where you can write your own operating manual and experimental frontiers of new knowledge-finding where the unknown isn’t so much overrun as it is “schemed” into being. In such circumstances, good that you know what a dolphin acts and thinks like. I hope this Cliffs Notes-like review has proved helpful. And if you want to know more about how to find the next right, smart, good thing or make a dolphin move, there is, of course, that certain book that spells it all out in far more detail.

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