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Are You Right-Brain or Left-Brain Dominant?

By Deborah J. Sparks

Not sure? If you want to become more effective and successful, it may be worth your while to find out.

Of course, we don't only use one side of our brain; just as people who are right-handed also use their left hand, we use both sides of our brain. However, just as we are more comfortable using one hand over the other, we tend to prefer using one side of the brain over the other.

The left side of our brain is detail-oriented, logical, organized, dealing with facts and figures. The right side of our brain is associated with "big picture" thinking, creativity and intuition.

The right side is for leadership. It creates the "what". It's the vision we use to design our dream home.

The left side is for management. It formulates the "how". It's what we use to build the house.

It's important to develop the non-dominant side of your brain. Having a design for a home is great - but won't get the house built. Similarly, building a house without first having a design would be a disaster.

To be truly effective, we must not only have the vision, but be able to translate the vision into reality.

In his 2006 New York Times best-selling book "A Whole New Mind: Why Right-brainers Will Rule the Future", author Daniel Pink explores why right-brain thinkers are more wired for 21st century success. As Pink points out, there are many jobs that can be outsourced to less-expensive (sometimes overseas) workers, but you can't outsource creativity. Pink himself is extremely left-brained, but stresses that we can all learn to develop our right-brain muscle.

While Pink's focus on developing the right side of the brain is fascinating, perhaps the most balanced and effective people are more "whole-brained".

How can we become more "whole-brained"? By recognizing our right or left-brain preference and then developing the other side of the brain, allowing us to become better leaders, managers, employees and, well, individuals.

Looking for a classic "whole-brain" example? Think Barack Obama. While he obviously has very good left-brain abilities, he also used his right-brain abilities to step back and look at the big picture of how the world had changed. He tapped into that during his campaign, with history-making and inspiring results.

Use the right side of the brain to set your goals. Setting S.M.A.R.T. goals is an important element in most of our professional skills development programs. People often set goals based on what they believe to be possible or achievable. This limits them. Instead, use the right side of your brain to set exciting and challenging "stretch goals" - those that drive you into action and help you achieve things you never thought possible. Think Terry Fox.

Use the left side of the brain to achieve your goals. Once you've set your goals, let the left side of the brain kick in to carry out the tasks that will result in the goals being met.

Explore which side of your brain is dominant. It can help you to determine how you best learn, think, relate to others and organize your time and surroundings.

So, if you're interested in developing your leadership, management, goal-setting, time management and other capabilities, you may want to start by unleashing the power of both sides of your brain!


Take a right-brain/left-brain quiz.

Watch the incredible video of scientist Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, a brain researcher who was chosen as one of TIME Magazine's 100 Most Influential in the Word 2008, who describes observing her own brain shutting down while suffering a massive stroke and explains the roles of the right and left hemispheres of the brain.



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© 2009 DJH Training & Application Solutions Inc.

WOULD YOU LIKE TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR NEWSLETTER, EZINE OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it: An entrepreneur at heart, Deborah J. Sparks established DJH Training & Application Solutions Inc. over 20 years ago, realizing her dream of creating a company known for providing high quality computer software training, application development and support and exercising her passion for teaching. To learn more and to register for DJH's free newsletter, Innovations, please visit www.djhsolutions.ca.