Expand Your Horizons with Whole-Brain Thinking

The more that we as individuals compartmentalize ourselves with labels, the more we distance ourselves from possibilities that can enrich our lives, expand our circles of influence and bring unexpected results. Our culture has become one of pre-judgment in which we mentally tag and dismiss others based on occupations, income-levels and personal appearance to such a degree that it is difficult to reach outside of one’s social circle, workplace or fitness club to meet those who contrast and compliment our own attributes. In fact, our need and desire to fit in has developed industries, professions and organizations to assist us in dealing with these cultural divisions, while sometimes creating new ones.

Consider psychology, life coaching, dating services, self-improvement programs, religions…even art classes. The human race communicated with art long before we could write. We used drawing, painting, sculpture, singing, drumming and dancing to communicate intentions and emotions, to give directions and tell stories. These forms of expression were not limited to an artsy-fartsy or intellectual clique – they were used and understood by all.

Somewhere along the line, we decided that the right brain, which spawns art and creativity, has less value than the left brain, which controls reason and logic. Yes, we appreciate music, we appreciate art, we appreciate dance and poetry; however, we, as a culture, don’t necessarily condone it as career path or a valuable contribution to society, with some exceptions. It’s too risky. It doesn’t make sense.

Could it be possible that many of our issues as individuals and as a society come from this left brain/right brain split? Could it be that if we were to encourage whole-brain thinking, using creative thought along with reason and logic, we could solve many of our own identity issues while becoming well-rounded individuals with an appreciation of the expression of life in all areas? How many opportunities would open up for us if we were to believe that we could do anything? Of equal importance, think about the expansion potential of your own sphere of influence when you develop a stronger appreciation for complimentary talents and abilities.

Entrepreneurship is a prime example of accessing both sides of the brain, and this goes for any entrepreneurial venture. At the very basic level, there is creativity in sales, promotion – all aspects of marketing – and logic in management and accounting. Both are used in negotiations. Then there is action involved in doing the work of the business, which could be strongly based in either realm.

Whether you are a performing songwriter, a real estate developer, a webmaster or a tour guide, your success does not depend on creativity or logic alone. It is a combination of the two, along with ability to take action, which will decide your future.

Professionals can provide better service to their clients when exercising both sides of the brain. An accountant or financial planner dealing with an artistic client will be more prepared to tailor advice to their needs delivered in such a way that it makes sense to them. A doctor will be less likely to prescribe drugs for depression and instead, encourage patients to do things that stimulate creative thought and promote health such as walking, yoga, or simply writing a journal to make sense of their lives. A businessperson accustomed to certain ways of doing business to increase the bottom line may hold a creative brainstorming session with sales personnel to uncover new possibilities.

People in artistic fields benefit from whole-brain thinking when they begin to appreciate the logic and reasoning behind planning and preparation and put it to use in promoting their work, applying for grants, booking shows and planning for tax season.

In life outside of the box, that is, your time that is not dedicated to your publicly categorized persona, consider expanding your horizons to include activities, books and experiences that stretch your brain. Talk to people who exhibit qualities that are opposite to yours in areas you would like to develop. For example, many people would love to write, but don’t. If you are one of those people, talk to some writers. You’ll find that it is easier than it may seem. If you want to do anything creative, but don’t, seek out ways to learn and take steps to follow that urge. There is no right or wrong way to make art, and it doesn’t matter if you show it to anyone. What you are doing is expanding your own horizons by tapping into your potential and increasing whole-brain thinking that will help you in all areas of your life.

Conversely, creative people often struggle with financial realities, business planning and organization. It is admirable to learn about those areas that are the backbone of financial security that also result in stress-reduction. Talk to people who know these things, read books on money management, debt-reduction and planning, go to seminars and use the internet.

Learning is a life-long process. Why not use some of that life to outgrow your present ‘compartment’. Along the way, you may meet new friends, mentors, business partners or collaborators that you never knew existed. You may have an idea for a new invention, information product, event, seminar, business, piece of art or music. You will discover previously unknown parts of yourself and see the hidden potential in others. You will have a deeper understanding of human nature and a stronger connection with the world around you.

Look at what Leonardo Da Vinci did with his life. He was not bound by logic or creative thought, but married the two to invent and create anything he envisioned. We all have genius within us, if only we will develop it and use it.

2009 Heather Loewen