There is a common misconception that most people are either right-brained (creative, intuitive) OR left-brained (logical, analytical). But this isn’t true. We are born with two brain hemispheres. It’s just that our society tends to place a higher value on left-brain skills such as language, logic and math. Unfortunately, this left-brained focus can squash our creative, right-brained attributes and limit our success in life.
Experiments show that most children are highly creative (a right brain function) before entering school. But only ten percent of these same children rank highly creative by age seven. By the time we are adults, high creativity remains in only two percent of the population.
What a shame.
We require BOTH brain functions to optimally succeed. It’s not an either/or thing. Take Albert Einstein for example: most would assume that Einstein was genius because of his left-brained reasoning. However, an examination of his notebooks finds that he credited his greatest scientific insights not to left-brained logic, but to his right-brained creative daydreaming instead.
How can we innovate enough new products or services and create enough new startups to achieve economic expansion if our society, our schools, continue to curb our imagination and punish our daydreaming? Creativity is the fuel that the left-brain needs to power the necessary actions. The right brain gives us the “why” and the left brain gives us the “how.”
Those who cease to daydream can’t see opportunities even when they’re right in front of their nose. You’ve heard me say this before and I’ll repeat it again: Big changes start with a thought, not an action.
Take a look at the following list of brain functions. Can you see how success is limited when only 50% of our brain gets regular exercise?
|Left brain functions:||Right brain functions:|
|Forms strategies||Presents possibilities|
|Sees the parts, specifics, details||Sees the big picture – relationships among the parts|
|Breaking apart||Putting together|
|Present and Past||Present and Future|
|Numbers, Written language||Pictures, Insight|
Do you dislike your job? Are you feeling stuck in a rut and powerless to do anything about it? Perhaps you know what you want to do but your big but problem gets in your way. Is your logical left side telling you “this will never work”? If so, remember that analysis and judgment (left brain functions) can get in the way of creativity, insight and imagination. That’s why when you brainstorm, it’s crucial that you suspend judgment while generating ideas.
I urge you to join me and re-ignite your imagination. Here are a few ways to give your oft-neglected right hemisphere a little love:
- Take a few minutes and do this fun, enlightening and magical exercise: Find Your Zingers
- Get inspired by listening to an audio interview with Sir Ken Robinson, witty author and advocate for increasing creativity in education and the workplace (interviewed by The Kathleen Show – check out her other interview content too, it’s terrific)
- If you like what you hear from Sir Ken Robinson, his books should inspire you further: The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything and Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative
A toast! To our right brains!
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