A Call for the Return of the Intuitive Mind

leftrightbrain2.jpgA topic we frequently focus on at Axialent is the balance of soft and hard skills, the dance between business strategy and people strategy and meeting leaders who have a left brain focus with a very right brain approach to transformational programs. The nomenclature of people being “left brain” or “right brain” first came to be in the 1960′s when severe epilepsy was treated by surgically separating left and right brains. For the first time, neuro-scientists were able to study separated brains where the left and right sides worked without communicating with each other. They discovered the left brain largely controlled analytical functions like reason and language, while more abstract and broad thinking occurred mostly in the right brain.

The result? Generations of people believing that they are either one or the other, analytical or creative, rational or emotional, reasonable or abstract; with generations of the business and science worlds valuing the rational brain over the intuitive mind. Psychiatrist and writer, Iain McGilchrist, in a powerful TED talk (see animation below) explains how the separation of brain function just isn’t true, both sides in fact can and do work together. He also argues that we are forgetting our intuitive mind and paying too much attention to the rational. Nowhere is this easier to see than in the corporate world where bottom lines are inherently rationally based.

Much of what we teach is how to use the broadness and creativity of the intuitive left brain to narrow in on a rational solution that also shows compassion and understanding. In other words, it’s about recognizing our world and how reality is shaped with both halves of our complex brain working in tandem.  We have to continue to see the gift of our ability to collect and process information AND connect and empathize with our fellow human beings. As our society moves into the Conceptual Age from the Information Age, to survive and thrive, we will need to use both halves equally to fully actualize the true potential of our mental and emotional capacities in service of our purpose and collective success.

TED TALK – Iain McGilchrist: The divided brain 


About the author

Pamela is Axialent’s North America Managing Partner. With more than 15 years of experience in international relationship management, consulting and entrepreneurship, she is a leadership consultant and coach, course designer, and conference speaker. Read more>

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