In society, they often seem directly opposed. The “intellectual” left brain finds no legitimate purpose feelings. It wants to know the “how” of it all. Having a tendency to focus heavily on left brain function myself, it often revealed itself as thinking that an art show was cool but pointless. When I heard an artist talk about their inspiration, I rolled my eyes and searched for the nearest exit.
Flip that and the “creative/emotional” right brain sees no purpose to understanding how something works without knowing what feelings it creates. It wants to know the “why” of life. As a teacher and chiropractor I see the look in those right brain leaning people’s eyes when I begin my explanation of how our body works. They might think it’s cool. But what they really want to know is how the global outcome and purpose.
Working from a differing point of view it’s easy to cast aside the other as someone who “just doesn’t get it.” Left brain make decisions and arguments based on rationale, observation, and measurement. Right brain people are living from gut instinct and intuition. The Scientist looks at the Artist and says, “it’s the processes of life that make you live.” The Artist regards the Scientist by responding, “it’s life and living that drive and give purpose to the processes.” Opposition ensues and so does misunderstanding.
Obviously I’m making a grand generalization here. Yet, I’ve been witness to many conversations that have had similar scenarios played out just like the one I described. Sometimes they’ve taken place in my own head. Some have resulted in heated arguments and stubborn retreats. Others have seen a beautiful merging between the ideas and found deeper insight on both sides of the brain.
What it takes for that to happen is a personal willingness to almost literally, see the topic from the other side. Commonly known as seeing someone else’s point of view. This requires engaging the other side of your brain, whichever that may be for you personally, and sending signals through the corpus callosum to integrate both logical thoughts AND gut feelings.
Here’s what I find really fascinating about this. While we may put scientists and artists in different brain categories (a very left brain practice!), they both use the other functional aspects of their brains more than they probably realize.
A scientist has to be extremely creative in the design, implication, and understanding of their experiments. They have to find ways to study aspects of nature that have never been studied. If no one’s ever done it, how do you know what to do? You don’t. So you have to create it which takes right brain approaches to left brain understanding.
Artists usually have the global picture of their art and its end result clearly in their mind before they ever put a brush to canvas. But now all across the United States people are taking one evening classes where other artists are walking them through a logical sequence of creating the overall masterpiece in three or four hours. They are breaking down the whole to recognize the progressive steps. Right brain merging with left brain.
We do this all the time. Yes, some people are going to be more directed one way or the other. My friend, Jay Wright, is a brilliant entrepreneur. He sees the big picture months or years down the road from a single, small project just getting off the ground. He quickly accesses and moves with his right brain to see the global idea and end result. Using a deep sense of awareness that he has cultivated through years of reading and self-examination, he has become incredibly efficient at seeing that big picture move through its progressive parts (more left brain). Now his business has a specific end goal that Jay already knows, plus a blueprint for how it’s going to get there. He’s followed this path with many businesses and has been incredibly successful.
So how are you going to work both sides of your brain? Will you find a way to be creative while analyzing something at work? Perhaps you can find a way to organize some abstract thoughts. Either way, by connecting and utilizing both sides of your brain, you'll gain more data and insight that will propel you ahead in work and in life.