I was working with Jeff for some time now. He was an entrepreneur, husband and a father and at that session, we were talking about his recent fight that caused a rift with his wife and daughter. He felt alienated by them, angry and alone. I aimed to give him another perspective of the situation and I did it through an analogy. I love working with stories or analogies because to me, they make sense. They help view a charged situation in a less charged way. I could see very quickly that I lost him. He couldn’t relate to the analogy. You see, Jeff was a very methodical and logical person and painting a picture in his mind, at that time, wasn’t possible. Both of us had to adjust. I had to use a different route in order to release his anger and frustration at that moment and he, in time, had found it useful to work on his creativity and imagination, as it helped him in his business and also in his relationships with his wife and daughter.
We’ve all heard the right brain-left brain argument: The left side of the brain is where most of our logic functions occur, and those who are left-brain dominant are great at details and analytics (think accountant or engineer). On the other hand, right-brain thinkers are more intuitive, spontaneous and creative (think artist or musician). While science has indeed shown that we all use both sides of the brain to function, the personality traits we’ve associated with each of stuck – and we’ve seen this played out in the boardroom, on the playing field and in our everyday lives, leading to misunderstandings and a lot of frustration.
Whether you feel you are right brain or left brain dominant, as an entrepreneur, if you want to succeed you will find a huge advantage if you learn to find a balance between the two. This involves exercising both your creative and critical thinking skills and learning how to strengthen those areas where you have struggled in the past. Here are a few right-brain/left-brain exercises to get you started.
“Creative thinking is not a talent, it is a skill that can be learnt. It empowers people by adding strength to their natural abilities which improves teamwork, productivity and, where appropriate, profits.”Edward de Bono
- Choose one creative thing to do each day. To start flexing your creative muscles, you need to put some creativity into your daily routine. Take 10 minutes a day to listen to music, read a book (for pleasure), or even just take a few minutes to meditate at the start of your day.
- Play the “what if” game. We all daydream on occasion. Most of the time it gets our minds off our current situation and actually reinvigorates us. Set aside time on a daily basis to do a little mindful daydreaming on a problem or challenge you are facing. For example, pose this question: “If money were no object, how would I solve this problem?” Or, “If I had enough time (or resources, etc.), I would…”. The key here is to not start injecting the “yeah, buts” into the equation. Just record all the ideas that you come up with in 5 or 10 minutes. You’d be amazed at how this simple exercise can rejuvenate you and start your creative juices flowing!
- Take time to smell the roses. With our busy schedules, it is sometimes difficult to even think of taking a break. We get so focused on plowing through the project or acting as chauffeur to our kids that we think we don’t have “room” to take a break, go for a walk or even have a light, fun conversation with our co-worker, spouse or kids. The thing is, if we don’t take those breaks, we tend to get tunnel vision and then get frustrated or bogged down with problems – never seeing the solutions. By taking a break, your brain will continue to process the situation subconsciously, you’ll feel refreshed and the solution may come a lot easier (how many of us have gone to sleep with a problem on our minds and woken up at 3AM to discover the answer was staring us right in the face?!?)
“Critical Thinking has the potential to be a deeply creative process.”Pearl Zhu
- Ask Questions One of the most important components of critical thinking is the ability to ask questions. Take the time to evaluate a situation from different angles by asking simple questions: “why do we approach it this way?” “What would be possible if we just changed one step?” “How will this affect our clients, family, etc.?”
- Actively Listen In our fast-paced world, we don’t always take the time to listen to what the other person is saying. We’re either distracted, thinking of our response to the conversation, or we just assume that we know the answer. To really flex your critical thinking skills, be aware when you are in your head instead of listening. Listen to the conversation, take a breath, gather your thoughts, and then respond to what you heard, rather than what you think the right answer is or what you assume should be done
Another good practice is to repeat what you understood from the other person and make sure you heard him right.
- Be a detective. Whether you are evaluating the pros and cons of a new product, or analyzing the benefits of switching from one service provider to another, it is important to take the time to do your research. Critical thinkers try to evaluate a situation from all angles, carefully weighing all their options and choosing the one that best fits the outcomes desired. This is the second component to the “what if” game mentioned above – it’s time to put some parameters to your solutions and evaluate what truly makes sense and is the most viable solution or idea.
Whether you consider yourself a creative or critical thinker, you do need to develop both sides of your brain and be mindful of your tendencies to lean one way or the other. It will take time and effort to develop these skills, but by building them you’ll experience significant transformation not only in your business but also in your personal relationships and life in general. You will be unstoppable!
Are you ready to begin your transformation? Let Dali, the Unstoppable Growth Coach, get you there! Send her an email here to set up your exploratory session.