1.3 Left Brain vs Right Brain?

Posted by Mike Kaaks

14 January 2019

1.3 Left Brain or Right Brain

Here is a classic pair of alternatives; Left Brain vs Right Brain. For most of my life I understood this to be literal but with the wonderful knowledge we are building of how the brain works it is now seen more as a metaphor that expresses a preference. What is your preference? How do you see yourself?

Do you feel free to create, to put your thoughts and ideas out there, not limited by feeling “I’m not a creative person”. I felt this way for a long time and then I realised that I had conversations with myself (often the best aren’t they!) about things I felt I hadn’t encountered anywhere, only to discover when I followed up with a little research that there’s a whole world out there engaged in that stuff already.

At first I felt this meant that I was not creative. To be creative I had to invent something never seen before. Now I see that an original thought in me is indeed creative. Whether it got there in something akin to a Big Bang or not is not the point. My former definition of creativity reinforced seeing myself as left brain. I now see that there’s plenty of right brain going on as well.

It can also consider this topic in terms of my work. Many of the things I have done in my working life rely on left brain qualities. Accounting, processes, structures, these have been some of my most used tools. Coaching and leading which emerged further into my journey are not typically associated with left brain. The choice is not just about being artistic or bland, free of spirit or bound up in logic. Time and self awareness are in play as well. As we become more comfortable with knowing ourselves we find freedom to act across a broader spectrum.

My point is that each of us – you included – are unlikely to have been described as being at one end or the other of this continuum. It’s more likely that you’re somewhere in between, yet still more comfortable with the label of one side over the other.


Right Brain

  • Creative
  • Intuitive
  • Belief
  • Artistic
  • Risk
  • Possibilities

Left Brain

  • Logic
  • Facts
  • Practical
  • Process
  • Safe
  • Order

Leaning to one side does not mean we lack capabilities in the other, it's just a preference.

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