Have you ever taken one of those tests to see if you’re more left-brained or right-brained? I used to have one saved to my desktop. I would play with it, testing myself over and over again.
- With my first cup of coffee, with no conditioning activities, my “control group” brain score was dead-center.
- After completing a logic puzzle, I score Left brain.
- After writing a poem, I score Right brain.
- After using Excel or Access – Left
- Word or Powerpoint – Right
- Writing SQL or HTML – Left
- Writing in Spanish or French – Right
Essentially, I can pick which side of my brain I hang out in. I think this is true for most people, though for many it’s a skill that has to be learned – a muscle to be stretched.
I enjoy flexing this connection. I deliberately chose a career that requires me to use my whole brain and not just half of it. I am as comfortable tossing around statistics and graphs as I am floating in a state of manic pixie dream girl. My day job includes trusting my intuition and testing theories almost as much as it does data analysis and trending. My night job – as a writer – is not so far different. I have to be able to think expansively in the world of “what if”, and yet the events have to follow through to their logical conclusions.
What’s funny about all of this is how I’m perceived by others. The people who are used to Analytics-AK are surprised by Artsy-AK, and vice-versa. The people who are more comfortable camped in one side more than the other tend to identify me as one of their own. These people who I see as tremendously creative or incredibly analytical expect me to have a similar personality type as them, and I guess they are both right.
See the “and” not the “or”.
I’ve been saying that phrase a lot lately, the fact that I see things as “and” instead of “or”. I’ve been spotting a lot of false dichotomies in the world around me lately. I think brain-sidedness is one of them. We are all left- and right-brained. We are all selfish and incredibly giving.
In his book about habits, Dean goes into creative habits, and they are two opposites that require a strong “and” between them. The most creative thinkers practiced (a) expansive, big picture, what-if thinking and (b) very detailed, every day pants-in-the-chair hard work.
For expansive thinking the people had to take breaks, step away, dream and noodle a little bit. They had to give themselves time and space to zoom out the lens of their thinking and look at the situation in the abstract. They had to be able to see opposites and analogies where no one else had seen them.
Then, once the idea sparked, they had to sit down and do the work. They had to switch from dreaming to doing.
What are your and/or dilemmas?
The cool thing about ands and ors is that if you look at them, if you zoom out the focus far enough to see the truth of the “and”, you can often resolve conflicts you didn’t realize existed.
- Do you pigeonhole yourself as “creative” and limit the ways your mind could be used analytically?
- Do you spend too much time in the work, and not enough time noodling?
Oh, and in my next story, I think my character’s conflict will be focusing on the “or” when they need to see the “and”… it’s a nice personal angst-generator and fantastic for internal monologue.