My good friends at Red Sage posted a fun quiz on Facebook this week- Are you right brained or left brained? Intrigued by all things personality related, I partook in the quiz, which told me I was 78% right brained. Going on the premise that your dominant brainside is the opposite of which hand you write, I have always considered myself a confused-brainer. I write with my right hand, but ask me to do anything else with my right side like throw a ball, shoot a ball or slalom ski and your out of luck. My left side wins.
My late mentor, who was a management professor at the University of Alabama, had a wonderful presentation that he gave frequently about the need for the world to think right-brained. In this presentation, he stated if people wanted to be competitive as individuals, if colleges wanted to turn out competitive graduates and if the United States wanted to remain creative, something had to be done to stimulate and cultivate the creative,innovative side of the mind. His premise: this kind of thinking is what produces long-term competitive advantage. The logical, methodical left-brain mindset does not.
But while taking this quiz, I was sitting with my husband who was watching Moneyball (again). To my Red Sage friends, you will love this movie if you haven’t seen it- he makes reference to the island of misfit toys.
This is this the story of Billy Bean who takes Nate Silver’s (@fivethirtyeight) advice and turns the world of selecting baseball players upside down by employing the logic of economics instead of scout’s intuition to select players. The premise: look at one number- on base percentage- to select players. And they win with it, with players the league has completely undervalued.
So I ask, is this left-brained or right-brained thinking? The bent towards logic and numbers would lead you believe it’s left-brained. However, I would state the idea was very right-brained. It is a true example of outside the box, challenging conventional left-brained structure, choatic thinking. However, the method to implement it, creating complex formulas and crunching numbers, is very left-brained and structured.
The point? Successful leaders use both sides of their brain with ease. After all, we have one organ as a brain, not two. I imagine the great creator designed it for both sides to work together in a way that optimizes human performance and results. Using the right side of your brain to come up with ideas may require the left side to implement.
Challenge both sides of your brain by engaging in activities that stimulate both sides. However, in a world that still seems to gravitate, or place higher value on the conventional thinking of the left side, I’ll defer to my mentor. Maybe we do need to work harder to get more out of our right side in order to fuel long-term competitive advantage. Billy Bean did.