Okay, we keep hearing more and more about “left brain” or “right brain” people.
Left brain dominant individuals are more orderly, literal, articulate, and to the point. They are good at understanding directions and anything that is explicit and logical. They can have trouble comprehending emotions and abstract concepts, they can feel lost when things are not clear, doubting anything that is not stated and proven.
Right brain dominant individuals are more visual and intuitive. They are better at summarizing multiple points, picking up on what’s not said, visualizing things, and making things up. They can lack attention to detail, directness, organization, and the ability to explain their ideas verbally, leaving them unable to communicate effectively.
Daniel Pink’s book – A Whole New Mind – continues to be a great resource for understanding the changing emphasis in our workplace.
“For nearly a century, Western society in general, and American society in particular, has been dominated by a form of thinking and an approach to life that is narrowly reductive and deeply analytical. Ours has been the age of the ‘knowledge worker,’ the well-educated manipulator of information and deployer of expertise. But that is changing. Thanks to an array of forces – material abundance that is deepening our nonmaterial yearnings, globalization that is shipping white-collar workers overseas, and powerful technologies that are eliminating certain kinds of work altogether – we are entering a new age. It is an age animated by a different form of thinking and a new approach to life – one that prizes aptitudes that I call ‘high touch’ and ‘high concept.’ High concept involves the capacity to detect patterns and opportunities, to create artistic and emotional beauty, to craft a satisfying narrative, and to combine seemingly unrelated ideas into something new. High touch involves the ability to empathize with others, to understand the subtleties of human interaction, to find joy in one’s self and to elicit it in others, and to stretch beyond the quotidian in pursuit of purpose and meaning.
“Today, the defining skills of the previous era – the ‘left brain; capabilities that powered the Information Age – are necessary but no longer sufficient. And the capabilities we once disdained or thought frivolous – the ‘right brain’ qualities of inventiveness, empathy, joyfulness, and meaning – increasingly will determine who flourishes and who flounders. For individuals, families, and organizations, professional success and personal fulfillment now require a whole new mind.”
Perhaps we’ve been too quick to categorize ourselves and those around us as being locked into one side or the other. (Here’s a quick and free inventory to see if you’re primarily left or right-brained.) I think we can observe our natural tendencies and then develop skills from the other side as needed. No one comes out of the womb fully equipped to deal with the adult world of work. We all learn what it takes to be successful. As I am fielding interview questions about Wisdom Meets Passion I find that many people think we are stuck with what we have. Not so! We develop our passions, our wisdom, our skills and our right or left brains as needed. Enjoy the trip into new territority.
No one has half a brain – although in some cases evidence may suggest otherwise. We all have both sides. If you need more of what the other side provides – go after releasing it’s benefits.
Do you think either left-brain or right-brain people have a unique advantage in today’s workplace?