My dad was one of the most creative people I knew. He was also left handed, which is a sign of right brain activity. My mother was far more analytical and right handed, a sign of left brain activity – This is not to say she wasn’t creative, but that she preferred to live in the left brain. While everyone uses some level of both sides of their brain, we tend to have one side more dominate than the other. The right brain controls the left side of the body and the left brain the right side.
I took two free online tests this morning to see what the systems thought of my dominating side. Both tests revealed I was right brained. The one test suggested I was 75% right brained, while the other 69%. I figured that since most statistical analysis is accurate within a +/- 5%, I could trust the test.
What was interesting is that the one test gave a breakdown of areas of dominance and how I process information. It was also the longer of the two tests. For instance, one of the ways I process information allows me to fully understand something if I see it. This does not suggest I have problems understanding intangibles, but that I have to see it in my minds eye first to understand it.
During a recent talk I boarded an intangible concept on friendship using symbols and diagrams. It allowed the audience to see and understand something that is typically vague and allusive of meaning. It became concrete for them. While several of the people were amazed at how I could do something like that off the top of my head, it came natural to me because I always see the visual in my minds eye so I can understand the complex and vague.
A psychologist once told me that the reason I struggled with reading as a kid, was because I was still memorizing 50,000+ symbols. While some people are able to understand a word based on each individual letter that makes up a word, my mind sees the word like a logo as one image. Therefore, I had to memorize what it looked like before I could properly read it.
When I give directions or write a story, my natural inclination is to describe it visually or as I see it in my minds eye. I understand the complex based on a series of images and remember things in that same fashion. It is the same ability that allows me to see how an entire motion picture will look before anything is filmed. And yes, it does mean that I can create and watch all kinds of movies in my mind for my own entertainment.
Access to the right and left brain is different than the determination of the dominant side. Most women can switch back and forth between both sides of the brain all within a split second or during the middle of a sentence, while men struggle to transition to the other side of the brain, but they can do it. Those who are center brained, like I am (according to a Bell Labs test I took a dozen years ago) can easily move back and forth at will. This ability gives me great insight into both sides of every situation, but the down side is that I might second-guess myself often.
Intuition, which was my highest score, has its life in the right brain. This allows you to determine an answer to things with your gut that is amazingly accurate. I recall a time were my logical friend was working on an intense computer program that had taken him about 36 hours of troubleshooting and he still hadn’t arrived at an answer. I asked him to share with me what he was trying to accomplish to see if I could help.
After laughing at my foolish request because I didn’t even know the programming language he was using, he humored me and spent a few minutes explaining it. A thought immediately popped into my head and I suggested that he consider… He was intrigued and dove in. Within a few hours he had completely solved his problem based on my recommendation.
My friend and I experienced numerous scenarios together as he would use my insights for troubleshooting. It didn’t take long for him to decide that I was accurate 99.99999% of the time, leaving room for human error. These experiences always caused us to laugh, as I was able to solve numerous problems that I didn’t understand.
These moments typically happened after he spent hours of research struggling to find an answer, but had less than 80% of the information necessary to solve the problem. It wasn’t magic or spooky, just a combination of innovative, intuitive and creative mental processing abilities functioning as I was made to function. However, he was made very left brained and couldn’t even begin to comprehend how I could do what I did, since it was “impossible” without the right information.
But consider that the right information for the left brain is different than the right information for the right brain. I know numerous people who can read the non-verbal communication that people give off when they greet someone they haven’t met before. Within a few minutes I can tell you more about them than most have summarized after a dozen meetings. Right brained people just use different tools to come to the same conclusion.
There is far more going on about the left and right brain than what a blog can handle. Numerous books have been written on the subject and various tests are online for educational and entertainment purposes. I suggest you take time to find out which side of your brain is dominant and what area or type of processing you use most.