So many of us live primarily in our heads. We think — hard and long. We look for and depend on data, validation, or confirmation from outside sources before we take action.
We are afraid to take risks, and are often desperately afraid of failing. We believe that all that thinking, analysis and searching for confirmation will protect us from the possibility of failure. And certainly, if we remain in our heads and search for more and more assurance, we never make many attempts that could fail — but could also succeed.
This is a classic way we stay stuck — all the while telling ourselves the comforting story that we are simply being thorough, or doing our due-diligence, or getting fully prepared before taking action.
All of this thinking is leaning hard into the left hemisphere of our brains. That’s the side that is logical. The side that seeks data and facts. Some of us even think of ourselves as “left-brained” types. But, the fact is that while the left hemisphere is super-important, it is only half of our brain. And, we all have access to all of our brain-power — right and left.
Why do so many of us settle for using only half of such a critical resource?
The right hemisphere of our brains is marvelous and is often under-tapped as a resource. People in fields like science, law, math, medicine and engineering often feel wary of right-brain attributes, as they rely so much on facts, logic and evidence. They think that right-brained people are artists, and they are uncomfortable about having anything to do with art.
This is a huge misconception. The riches of the right hemisphere are remarkable and valuable for all of us — and they are accessible to everyone.
Here is how you can begin to tap into ALL of your wisdom:
Connect to and trust your intuition
The right brain is the place that our intuition lives, and our intuition is a huge source of our intelligence. When you have a “gut feeling” that’s your intuition talking to you. Pay attention to the messages from your body, too! In fact, your gut is considered a second brain. I urge you to actively check in and listen for what it is saying — because there is enormous wisdom in your gut feelings. When you over-ride intuitive messages with logic, you will invariably find that your intuition was right. Trust it!
Emotions are connected to the right hemisphere of the brain, and connecting to your emotions is amazingly valuable. Emotional intelligence — being able to read people’s feelings, and your own feelings — is one of our greatest resources, and is crucial for effective leaders.
Some people are scared of their emotions, and that is not so surprising when you consider the impact of strong emotions like anger or grief or fear. But when you cut emotion out, you are disconnected from important messages that help you make sense of things, experience things, and assess things. You are unable to communicate and respond effectively, and you are less able to feel empathy for others. All of this missing knowledge hinders you in big ways. (And strong emotions tend to come to the surface in spite of your efforts to suppress them, leaving you feeling overwhelmed, confused, and even out-of-control. Ouch!)
The right hemisphere of the brain is the place of idea generation, imagination and creativity. And, our gut (our second brain) is the other seat of tremendous creative energy. It goes without saying that creativity is vastly important — in every aspect of your life.
The thing I have found, over and over, is that huge numbers of people have an absurdly limited idea of what it is to create. They are sure they are not creative, because they associate creativity with being Michelangelo, or Mozart, or Baryshnikov.
The truth is that there are infinite ways to create, and all of them are remarkable. And, all of them are available to you.
First and foremost, start to think of yourself as a creative being, and consider what you can and want to create in every moment.
- You can create with food — in the preparation of food, the presentation of food, the combinations of flavors, and more.
- You can create with color — using pencils or crayons for fun, or using color to make your ideas clearer for other people to understand, or choosing colors for an environment that will inspire or soothe or stimulate you, to name just a few examples.
- You can create with words — in poems, in conversation, when journaling or writing articles or proposals. Or knock yourself out and start writing a book if you’re so inspired.
- You can create with music — by playing an instrument, or singing to process emotions, or by choosing the music to play during a gathering with friends, to set the mood you want.
- You can — and do — create when you bring any new concepts and ideas together, and when you set a vision. Consider these creative opportunities, expand your thinking.
- And here's what you may never have considered. You can create when you deliberately choose a creative mindset. Every time you create a response and choose your course of action, rather than reacting, you are creating in your life. You can create what is right for you, what will align with your values and lead to what you want, in every moment.
Can you think of yourself as a creator now?
Test it — and start today
There’s no time like the present to start thinking about how you can embrace all of your intelligence and bring more of it to everything you do, both at work and in your personal life. Pay attention to what changes, or shifts, or expands as you exploit the benefits of leaning more into the gifts of your right brain!
I welcome you to share your experiences and ideas and results, or questions. Comment below, or email me, so we can compare notes, learn from one another, dig deeper into this topic.