The eradication of doubt

The Creation of Adam Michelangelo Sistine Chapel God and man

Section from ‘The Creation of Adam’ by Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475–1564) in the Sistine Chapel, Rome.

Most people find it hard to sell themselves. How often have we come across people (including ourselves) who say ‘I can sell someone/something else, but when it comes to selling myself I can’t do it’. When the spotlight is forced on them by themselves, they’re riddled with self-doubt and lack confidence in themselves and their abilities. It’s interesting to notice what kind of people do find it easy to sell themselves compared with those who don’t, and what it is about themselves that they are actually able to promote.

So why is this and what can we do about it?

In my experience, the main category of people who struggle to sell themselves are the many different types of artists: painters, musicians, designers, dancers, performers and writers, and the thing they struggle selling is their art.

The main category of people who are able to sell themselves don’t have a particular name so let’s call them ‘salespeople’. They have in common a projectable self-belief that is not connected to any product, artifact or art that they have made, but is linked to confidence in something external and/or their ability to deliver a potential service in the future.

So now we can see a clearer difference. The ‘artists’ judge themselves and their self-worth on what they have created in the past, their ‘art’, which as time goes on, has less and less value in their eyes. They then project this lack of self worth, index linked to their fading glories or past failures, into the future. This pressure lowers self confidence in their abilities so much that they fail to be able to communicate the value of their work and fail to sell (or even pick up the phone or knock on the door).

The ‘salesperson’ does not really care about the past. They communicate with people in the present about the future. Their self-belief is index linked to an ideal service they may deliver in the future. This creates an unlimited potential in the future which builds confidence, enabling the person to sell their services.

So in part it’s a difference between products and services. A product already exists and can be judged, but a service has yet to be delivered so might well be perfect.

But there’s something more than that. The product that the artist is talking back is intrinsically linked to them. The salesperson may be able to easily sell someone else’s product precisely because it exists and is tangible. It exists to the salesperson in isolation and therefore can be linked to their own confidence about their own ability to communicate its benefits as a service.

The artist who created the product can’t do this because the product is too close to them, it is still part of them. The very fact that they are an artist means that their own feelings and emotions went into the creation of the art. This is unlike a bricklayer creating a wall to a set plan, possibly laid down by someone else. They might put their all into the construction, and may even be able to describe themselves as a highly skilled artisan or craftsperson,  but when finished, the wall is not art and not linked to the individual in the same way as art. Instead, it’s the product of a service rendered.

So for the artist to sell themselves and their art they have a few stark choices. One is to portray their art as a future service. This is how successful designers learn to think. The other way is to portray their art as products. This is how successful painters learn to think.

But there is another thing to consider and that is the power of a team mind. Obviously it’s easier to sell your product or service when you have a real physical team of people supporting and working with you. But when you’re on your own there is a secret way of being a team too.

Our consciousness gives us the benefit of an internal voice, the voice in our head. It lets us weigh up options and figure things out. It works as a stream of a conversation in which we are both the speaker and the listener. Many people have tried to investigate how and why this works. It’s related to the fact that we actually have two brains, two hemispheres. We often call them ‘right’ and ‘left’ and relation them to the different world views of abstract visual emotional concepts (right side) and logical sequential verbal mechanics (left side).

Another model that takes these basic concepts further is to think of one of our brains (the active dogmatic left side) as the Apprentice or Emissary and the other as the master (the unconscious holistic right side). The conversations we have, happen between these two beings, the Master and the Emissary.

A route to self confidence can begin by accepting this model and listening to the voice of the Master, who always has your best interests at heart, and allowing him/her to guide you to the best decisions. Now you’re working as a team. You’re also creating your art as a team, having internal conversations as a team. Many artists describe the creative process as a collaboration between a part of them carrying out the physical art and another part giving the instruction, often externalised, sometimes described as divine instruction, coming to them. John Lennon described his songwriting process as him as an antenna, picking up signals from a higher source.

If we, as artists, accept this model we may well just find that our internal team will also support us in the selling of our products and services, which, now, are not only our sole and lonely creation. Plus, safe in the knowledge that our Master will not let us down, we can rely on him/her in the future too, so can base our self confidence on that certainty.

This, I believe, is the secret to the curse that stops us selling ourselves and our art. This is the secret to the eradication of doubt.

For more on these ideas, read this excellent book: The Master and his Emissary by Iain McGilchrist.

Ayd works with people and businesses to explore and unlock their creative ideas in ways they may never have thought possible, to inspire innovation.

Book Ayd to speak about the Power of ‘What If?’ and Inspiration for Innovation at your conference, or in your business. A great way to open your event or as an after lunch energiser.

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The anatomy of a dinosaur business

anatomy of a dinosaur business right brain thinking

The meteor that will wipe out dinosaur thinking in today’s world has already hit. And just like the crisis that befell the dinosaurs 60 million years ago, whatever it was, it didn’t wipe them all out overnight. There was an extinction phase during which a few species waddled on before finally becoming extinct and known only to us in the fossil record.

We are living in a new extinction phase now. How can we survive and thrive in this rapidly changing landscape? How can we stand out, add more value, cope with different expectations and be remarkable?

To survive, our creativity needs to be unlocked and applied in new and challenging ways. Only the agile and the warm-blooded innovators will make it. Those that are inflexible and dogmatic will not. We all need to step out of the imagined boundaries that keep us small and embrace our true creative potential.

But what is a dinosaur business? Here are the main characteristics shared by both the extinct giant reptiles and the soon-to-be-extinct businesses:

Dinosaur businesses are:

Designed to perform only one task, to hunt in one particular way.

They’ll never be able to truly embrace social media, new technology, relationship marketing and selling.

Lack of vision: Unable to see the big picture.

They may have great systems, but the constituent parts don’t always work as a coherent whole, all working together for a common aim. There’s no inspiring vision or direction. They’re focused solely on the bottom line, never looking up to see how their purpose may need to change.

Low I.Q. due to small nerve centre.

Decisions are made by a small group of people, usually all the same type of people from the same type of background who come up with the same ideas. They don’t seem able to inspire ideas from the rest of the workforce, let alone trust and implement any of them.

Cannot hear advice and unable to process and respond quickly to new information.

With operation systems being so inflexible and out-of-date, they’re unable to make changes due to new data, cultural changes, economic changes, market or attitude changes.

Incapable of manipulating situations and people in a delicate and personal manner.

They can’t inspire people to do their best, don’t share in a vision and treat people as a ‘resource’ that is nameless, stripping people of their personality and individuality. In return they get a bland workforce who work to live rather than live to work and couldn’t care less about the business, watching the clock to see when they can get away to do something worthwhile.

Needs to consume a lot of resources just to stay alive.

They’re so heavily loaded with personnel, buildings and plant that it takes a fortune just to keep the doors open. They probably waste a lot of resources too. Lean is not a word they have heard of.

Slow moving.  Unable to change direction quickly.

The momentum of their operations is so old fashioned and set in stone that they struggle to modify anything even when they see the need to.

Can’t regulate internal temperature, not totally self governing. Reliant on external bodies.

They’re often reliant on banks, investors and shareholders who can limit their movement and changes. Often a change in a law can throw a massive spanner in the works.

Powerful and strong but ungainly and cannot function without causing damage to the environment.

From massive energy usage, having to heat and cool large offices, fuel for large fleets of vehicles, unnecessary round the world shipping right down to departmental waste and individuals not caring about spend, they waste resources and create massive environmental footprints.

Cold bloodied, lack of care or compassion

From the extremes of environmental pollution and slave labour to careless health and safety measures, they caee about the bottom line over and above everything else, including people and communities (and often the law).

Cannot function without being destructive and competitive. The only strategy is to attack and consume.

Collaborate and share are words they don’t recognise. Their purpose is the be the last one standing and don’t care who or what get’s in their way. It’s war.

Don't tell the dinosaurs - right brain marketing for business

You may think those attributes are found only in massive and long established businesses. But you have a think. Do any of them apply to you too? If so, shake off the dinosaur and embrace the quick thinking vitality of the creatures that will very soon inherit the Earth, making it a better place in the process.

If you’re in a business, you might like to take a look at this masterclass about this topic, available as in-house training as well as for CEO groups.

Ayd works with people and businesses to explore and unlock their creative ideas in ways they may never have thought possible, to inspire innovation.

Book Ayd to deliver an innovation workshop in your business or CEO group or to speak about the Power of ‘What If?’ and Inspiration for Innovation at your conference.

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The two types of creative people – which are you?

When it comes to creativity, there are two types of people. Let’s call them Type X and Type Y.

Type Y: They don’t think they’re that creative. Or sometimes they do, sometimes they think they are a genius but then something happens. When they look back at the thing they’ve created they can only see fault in it. Sometimes they even destroy their own work, it’s never quite good enough. Sometimes they have so many ideas, but when it comes to taking action, they don’t know which to pursue. If they pick one it suddenly becomes less than it was, with all enthusiasm evaporated away. They always think that someone else is probably better at doing whatever it is they do. They try to keep that fact a secret, sometimes by hiding away, sometimes by hiding their work away, sometimes by not doing anything at all. And yet some days they are so prolific and everything they touch turns to gold.

If you asked them to write a book you’d get three half finished manuscripts and a list of further ideas as well as a treatment of how one of those ideas could be made into a film.

If you asked them to solve a problem you’d get a weird answer straight away, they’d start at the end and work backwards or their answer would raise more and bigger questions than the original problem.

Type Y people ask the question, ‘why?’. The Y stands for the openness of Yes. The symbol of the Y shows an upright line, splitting into two, reminding us that Type Y people increase yield by turning one thing into two things.

Type X: They think they’re highly creative. Or at least they tell everyone that. Or they will tell everyone that they’re as creative as they need to be. Or they’ll tell everyone that creativity isn’t really that important. If they doubt themselves and their work, they never show it. Their bravado increases the closer they get to Type Y people who they look down on. They show no pride in their work, but neither do they deride it. They have more interest in completion of an activity rather than the process itself even though they may have spent more time defining the process than the process needs to proceed.

If you asked them to write a book, you’d either get nothing, or a hundred bullet points in a list of unconnected data.

If you asked them to solve a problem it will take them ages while they go through a massive preamble of nitty-gritty that isn’t really relevant, but a straightforward obvious answer will appear on schedule.

Type X don’t ask questions. They make the close down statement of ‘No’ and put a cross to prove something has been judged wrong. The X can also be used to give approval, again as a binary ‘on-off’, black or white decision. The symbol of the X shows that two things can be brought together, processed and passed through their systems, still as two uncorrupted things. Type Y can be caretakers but generate no yield.

So which are you? Or which are you in certain situations? Have a think about the particular situations below and mark with an X or a Y.

When solving problems I am …..

In my relationships I am …..

If I have to make or build something, I am …..

At work I am mostly …..

At home I am mostly …..

I’m happiest working with people who are …..

When it comes to cooking, I’m …..

When I think about money, I’m …..

I’d like to be more like …..

Ayd Instone works with people to explore and unlock their creative ideas in ways they may never have thought possible, to inspire innovation in their lives, and their business.

Book Ayd to speak about the Power of ‘What If?’ and Inspiration for Innovation at your conference, or in your business. A great way to open your event or as an after lunch energiser.

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Brain over capacity (Another reason people don’t innovate)

If you’re a regular user of Twitter you’ll have noticed that occasionally you get met with an error message that says ‘Twitter over capacity’. It means that too many users are trying upload too much data in too shorter time.

I think this has happened to my brain.

If you’re interested in things it’s worse. I’m interested in lots of things. I used to have to go searching for information on my interests. Now, the universe seems to just serve it up daily. I used to hunt down the next great book to read, now they’re stockpiled on my shelves along with unwatched DVDs and four months worth of Doctor Who Magazines to catch up on (I’ve never missed an issue since issue 1 in October 1979).

I’ve got dozens of links to websites and YouTube videos that would be interesting but I just don’t seem to have the time.

But when it comes to procedural, administrative and systematic tasks, time is found and the tasks are done. It’s the creative tasks that get left out. They have one thing in common; they are all big picture holistic ‘right brain’ tasks. And the one that matters most to us in our businesses right now is: innovation.

So what’s going on and what can we do about it?

The new world of instant gratification has turned us all into brilliant multitaskers, living in a heightened state of alert. We used to get on with a job and stopped when it was finished. Now we get distracted, bored and restless if the results and rewards take more than a few seconds to arrive. If we do have to wait for anything, we don’t stop to think, we whip out our dumbphone like some sort of pacifier to give our brains something to fiddle with lest it have time to pause.

For millions of years humans got on with a task such as making a tool or building a dwelling or stone circle. Then something that might distract them came along, like a storm, a wild animal or an invasion from another tribe. So the task would be paused and the new threat dealt with.

Now, we swim in an endless sea of data which appears to our minds to be just as important as the storm, the sabre-toothed tiger or the invaders. We haven’t evolved an ‘off switch’ or an information priority filter, so we deal with and process the incoming news with as much attention as everything else, giving those interrupts a level of attention far beyond what they deserve. We can’t help it. Emails, phones ringing, text messages and Friendface alerts all shout ‘emergency! emergency!’ and switch us into our ancient flight or fight behaviour.

Is it any wonder so many of us are on edge, stresses or tired out?

We’re suffering from a condition that has only recently come to light, where we feel we have to respond to interrupts and take action on everything: Attention Reductive Systematic Execution.

There is only one cure, and it’s a paradox and counter intuitive as it uses up the one commodity that we feel we need more of: time.
“If only had a bit more time” we all say. But that would never work. If we had more time, we’d just surf the internet more, watch more inane telly and mess about on Friendface.

What we need to do is to take a certain amount of time, build a fence around it and only let in ourselves and one task. It could be a certain evening or a certain day. It could be every morning before 9am. Whatever it is, it needs to be a regular time so it gets catalogued as a procedural, administrative and systematic task by our brain, to sneak past our multitasking brainfever mode.

When you’ve created your protected ring-fenced timeplace, free from mobile phones, emails and tweets, you can then use it to work on just the creative, right-brain activity that has been squeezed out of your daily or weekly routine: innovation. (Innovation by the way, is how to make things better or do better things.)

I use Thursdays. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have written this. I’d be too busy answering emails and making jokes up on Twitter complaining that I don’t seem to have any time.

Get Ayd to come into your business to run a masterclass on innovation.

Embracing your uncertainty

I’ve been watching all the old episodes of TV’s ‘The Apprentice’ – both the US and the UK versions. Watching each episode back-to-back is a different experience than watching it once a week. Apart from driving me mad, the overall impression is about how consistently good the majority of candidates are at certain tasks and how consistently appallingly poor they are at others.

Here’s what they are good at: hard sales, taking action and confidence

Here’s what they are bad at: generating new ideas, presenting, expressing ideas, getting along with and motivating people and seeing the big picture.

It’s interesting that what they’re good at falls into competencies traditionally categorised as ‘left-brain’ controlled tasks and what they are bad at are all right-brain dominated tasks.

Both Donald Trump and Sir Alan Sugar repeatedly make it clear that they’re not looking for another sales person. They’re looking for creativity and leadership. Yet so few people with these skills apply to be on the show (or get chosen to appear on the show).

The reason is perhaps simple, but interestingly not often discussed. Left-brain thinking has a unique characteristic that is not often included in those lists of ‘left’ and ‘right’ brain specialities. Left-brain thinking has confidence and certainty, often even when such confidence is unsupported by evidence. To even apply to be on the TV show you would need to have an unusual level of self-confidence. To actually survive the process and complete the tasks you would need to be able to develop a level of certainty that could drive you through it all. These are strong left-brain attributes.

Right-brain thinking on the other hand, is doubtful and uncertain of it’s own abilities. This is why left-brain thinking always dominates. This is the necessary downside of right-brain possibility thinking, to be able to see the world i flux and as a field of probabilities and uncertainties. It’s this kind of thinking that generates ideas in the first place. It’s this thinking that controls the creative process. It comes at a price, that of self doubt.

This is why so many artists, writers, musicians and performers all at some stage of their careers have periods of massive self-doubt and uncertainty about their abilities. It’s interesting that these are exactly the sort of people that Trump and Sugar need (in fact that ALL businesses need) but these are the sort of people who would never apply to take part is such a process.

What sort of processes do you have to attract and keep these type of people, the creative types who will transform your business?

What sort of processes do you have to nurture your own confidence in your creativity?

Once we become aware that this is how the brain works we can use it to short circuit the duality and use the left-brain certainty and confidence to back up our emotional and artistic sensibilities of our right-brains to empower us instead of undermine ourselves.

Embrace your uncertainty and realise it means you’re onto something. Look at your past successes to help realise you can be more creative, you can use your talents and you can push forward with bigger and better ideas and a more productive life.

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The two types of thinking that we need to think about thinking

There are two modes of thinking that we switch between to be able to be creative and run our lives. The main one is critical thinking which most of us use most of the time to rationalise and run our lives. But there is another mode of thinking too that is quite different, equally as important but often overlooked…

Critical thinking
Critical thinking is what we were taught. It is instilled within our civilisation. It is the essence of the scientific method which as we know is to put up a theory and then attack it. If it still stands up then maybe we have something. That is the scientific method.

Critical thinking is great for our judicial system. Someone puts forward a hypothesis such as ‘we believe this man committed a crime’ and critical thinking takes over to test the hypothesis. The problem with critical thinking is that it needs a hypothesis before it can do anything. In science we need the initial theory before we can begin to examine it, attack it or design any experiments.

This is why many people can’t seem to come up with any ideas as any new thoughts are stifled by critical thinking. If they or anyone around them comes up with an idea has it immediately vetted, criticised and thrown out. This sort of behaviour destroys creativity. In a brainstorming meeting, the person who put forward the initial idea in that meeting may have been onto a winner if the idea had been explored and associations drawn from it rather than knocking it down. But we don’t nessesarily need others to stop us being creative, we’re critical of ourselves and filter thoughts through our critical thinking, therefore never gettig to the big idea. The most ridiculous and impractical suggestions during a creative ideas session are by far the most important.

We associate this type of thinking with the ‘left brain’ because many of its attributes are located in the left hemisphere. Critical thinking is also known as being sceptical or being a sceptic. Most of the time it is healthy to be a sceptic. It means you’re checking facts as you go along, evaluating your beliefs and are able to weigh things up to make accurate value judgements. (Don’t confuse critical thinking or sceptical thinking with cynical thinking. Being a cynic means that you assume the worst and expect failure. We have no time for cynics here.)

Possibility thinking

The other mode is possibility thinking or creative thinking. The vital difference between the two modes are that critical thinking asks, ‘is this true?’, while creative possibility thinking asks, ‘is this useful?’. Creative thinking is interested in possibilities, it looks for meaning and personal significance. It likes to tie facts together and give them context (that is what we call ‘story’). It dreams and imagines what could be rather than looking at what’s actually there. It is unfettered by reality, language or time. We associate this type of thinking with the ‘right brian’ because many of its attributes are located in the right hemisphere. Operating in this mode of thinking most of the time would be unproductive and dangerous. But when coupled with critical thinking in the right measure at the right time it becomes the powerhouse of our creativity.

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Never ever try to think of a great idea ever again

GolfIf I was to play golf, never having played it before, and made the statement, “If I’m going to play this game, I only want to get hole-in-ones'”. What would happen when I teed off?

If I was going to be a photographer, having just equipped myself with an expensive digital SLR camera and I made the statement, “I’m only going to take great photos.” How many photos would I take?

If I was going to train as a research scientist and made the statement, “I’m only going to engage in ground-breaking research.” What new discoveries would I make?

The answers are of course that the odds are stacked incredibly high against being successful in any of the three. I wouldn’t hit a hole-in-one. I’d take one or two photographs before realising that my photos were rubbish and I’d feel a massive sense of under-achievement in the laboratory as I worked on mundane run-of-the-mill tests.

In each of these examples you have to do things badly to start with and then you get better. It’s obvious. So why, when it comes to generating ideas do we expect and somehow think we’re capable, of having great ideas without having lots of not-so-great ideas first? It’s like trying for the hole-in-one, you’re basically relying on random chance – you’re not playing the game.

Never, ever, ever, ever try to think of a good or great idea ever again. Unless you want to waste time and fail, that is. We need to understand that to be creative and generate earth-shatteringly brilliant ideas we need to set off trying to think of IDEAS, not great ideas. There is a subtle difference. By trying to think of great ideas you are starting off with judgemental thinking. To know that you’ve just thought of a great idea means that you’re verifying, critisising and evaluating the idea as soon as it is formed. This means you’re still locked into critical thinking, which we know, doesn’t have access to your full potential. You’re cutting out the creative driver of the process.

It’s hard to cut out critical thinking. We’re programmed to think that way. This means we’ll find it very difficult to just think of ‘ideas’ instead of ‘great ideas’, postponing the evaluation till the brainstorming session is over. To get over this, the secret is to deliberately think of bad ideas. By bad ideas I mean really, really bad ones.

Think of your most pressing problem at the moment. Can you think of 21 stupid, bad, rubbish and surreal ways to solve the problem? Think of ways that could make the problem worse. The aim here is to deliberately be unconstructive. This will help keep judgement and analysis at bay and will also open up the mind to possibilities (giving your mind permission to ‘think out of the box’). Your critical thinking brain will eventually just give up, allowing right brain possibility thinking to take over and start making some really unusual connections. You’ll find this tough too. I don’t think you’ll be able to do it, you’ll be so locked into left brain critical thinking mode.Try to prove me wrong and list 21 really bad ideas. Some people censor their thoughts so much they won’t be able to even attempt this. Remember, I’m not asking you to actually DO them – just think of them.

Then go back over the list. Notice what further ideas are triggered from the bad ones. Perhaps by ‘inverting’ a bad idea it becomes an idea so wonderfully good that you would never have considered had you not freed yourself from critical thinking.

Keep thinking the impossible and the ridiculous. If you think only about sensible ideas and search only for the perfect idea then you’ll also fail to come up with anything new. The route to genius does not lie on the often travelled path. Keep deliberately thinking of stupid, preposterous and truly ridiculous ideas (and write them all down). These open up new routes for your mind to explore and find new answers.

See if you can do it.

Book Ayd to speak at your event.
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Taste the Moment

We tend to live locked-up in our left-brain controlled critical world. Is it any wonder that we find it so hard to let go and experience the world around us and live in the moment?

I noticed when my son was around a year to 18 months old and he suddenly able to move around, stand up and reach out to explore this strange universe he found himself in. When he came upon something to investigate (like the washing machine), he wouldn’t just stare at it. His first reaction was to get his lips and teeth onto it. Smaller objects were even easier to get in his mouth. It wasn’t that he was hungry. It was his desire to taste.

This was really because taste was his primary sense that helped him experience and make sense of the world. Ours tends to be mostly visual, if we bother to look at all that is. He would want to taste, to smell, to touch and see the object. He wanted to understand it, to feel it, to consume and to be part of it.

A child knows how to live in the moment.

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Thinking on the Eastern side of the Brain

Learning Mandarin is very likely to give you an economic advantage in the years ahead. Recent research has shown that it could help you in other more surprising ways too.

A six-year German-Chinese research project has shown that Chinese brains work faster than western ones. The Chinese students were better at processing information intellectually and quicker at memory tests. But when it came to simple reaction time tests, the Europeans were better. The researchers believe that it is because of how the mind has to process the more complex Mandarin and Cantonese languages than the Roman alphabet. Mandarin has about 50,000 word characters. A knowledge of 3000 would be needed to read a newspaper. A well-educated person may know around 5000. To complicate matters further Chinese languages are phonetic. A vocal change can dramatically change the meaning of words. Mandarin has four tones, Cantonese has eight.

It’s also thought that there is less difference between the left and right hemispheres of the average Chinese brain compared with the average European brain. This is perhaps due to the very visual pattern recognition nature of the language which requires a more even balance of the traditional left and right brain specialisms. European languages are much more left brain dominant.

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Think the Right Way

Some people think they’re a left brainer, “I’m a left brainer,” they say, “I deal with computers, I deal with numbers. I get things organised, I turn up on time. I’m always smart. I’ve always got a pen. I’m a left brainer. I’m not an art-farty right brainer, wasting everybody’s time.”

Some people think that creativity is purely a right brain activity. Some think they’re right brain people and say “Well I’m an artist, I don’t have to turn up on time, I’m not interested, I like being in a mess, I do what I like because I’m an artist and I don’t have to wear a suit. Just don’t ask me to add anything up.”

Well they’re both wrong because we use both hemispheres of our brain all the time. If you really did use just your left brain you would be autistic. If you use just your right brain you would be in a mental hospital. What is really going on is that one hemisphere directs thinking for a particular task (not for a particular individual). The left brain dominates logical thinking, the concept of time, names for things and processes in a linear way. The right brain dominates language and meaning, opertaing in a holistic way. But the two always work together – and must do for you to function.

It’s important that we understand the specialisms of the hemispheres so that we know when it’s appropriate to use left-brain or right-brain directed thinking for a particular task. Let’s have a more detailed look:

Left Brain = Linear, Logical and Sequential
Right Brain = Holistic, Intuitive and Random

The left-brain does things in straight lines (linear) with no deviation. It processes in a logical fashion. It does one thing after another (sequential), one thing at a time. This is exactly how a computer works. The left brain is perfect for knowledge based tasks and since we’ve just come through the Industrial and Information ages, left-brain thinking has, quite rightly, dominated business in the west for a century and a half.

The right-brain looks at the big picture (holistic). This is why a large proportion of successful entrepreurs are creative right-brain directed thinkers. You need to be able to think holistically and see the big picture to have a business plan. The right-brain makes unusual links between disparate ideas (intuition). It carries out processes in a non-sequential order. There may be a pattern, but it won’t be A to B to C. In fact the right brain is a pattern generating and pattern recognising machine.

The left-brain is interested in utility, the right-brain in significance. So the left-brain is ‘function’, the right brain is ‘form’. In business this has a wider implication. When anyone is taught how to sell they are told something very important: sell the benefits, not the features. Few people are interested in how ABS brakes work on a car or even what ABS stands for. They don’t care if they have got ABS brakes or not. But when you tell them that ABS brakes stop your brakes from locking and going into a skid, that ABS brakes will save their life in an emergency stop, that’s a benefit. You sell the benefit and leave the technical description of the features to the appendix at the back of the brochure. A benefit is really ‘so what does that mean?’.

This shows that it’s the right brain that we appeal to when selling, in most people. People want meaning and significance in their lives, in the products they buy and in the services they use. Does your offering appeal to this need or are you trapped in left-brain directed thinking all the time and wonder why your service doesn’t connect with people or that you can’t think of new ideas?

Many business tasks need to be directed by right-brain thinking in the new Conceptual Age: marketing, sales, brainstorming, product development, human resources, lean productivity and customer service to name but a few.

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