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Smart in all the wrong ways: Being right-brained in a left-brain world

I’ve learned through my life and especially as a coach that most of us assume that what is natural and easy for us is that way for others. I use surveys and assessments with my clients. I call them “tools of self-awareness.” As they explore and discover their natural talents and abilities, they often also find out that what they think is easy isn’t easy for others.

We live in a culture that recognizes and rewards us for having a linear, logical, literal mind. Thinking in that way is how we get from A – B – C. Those of us who tend to think in a very connected, creative, open, intuitive way can have difficulty seeing and understanding what is obvious to others. Example; I have a colleague who loves spreadsheets. If she makes a list, she does it in a spreadsheet…all those little boxes. I make lists by drawing mind-maps. They are often circles with spokes coming out of them with bubbles with labels, and the circles can even overlap. It’s how I see things…all connected. I also used to assume everyone saw that way.

As a special education teacher, I tried seeing the world through my student’s experiences. I tried doing things from a wheelchair, or wearing dark glasses to make it harder to see, and doing fine motor tasks with ski gloves on. I wondered what it was like to be accommodating constantly in order to be “successful”. I developed more empathy and understanding for other’s experiences and gratitude for what came easily for me.

As I continue listening to clients, colleagues, and friends, I am struck by how we often struggle with what we are supposed to be doing; what talents, strengths, and capacities are most recognized and rewarded, and how important it is that we learn to value what we bring, not just what the world seems to tell us matters.

It is a risk to show up fully as who we are, wherever we are.

A wise person once told me, “Rebecca, in order to attract the people who are looking for you, you need to be willing to repel the ones who aren’t.” I also have a close friend who, when I said, “I want to be nice…I want people to say I’m nice”, she said, “No you don’t.” I protested…”Yes, I want people to think and say I’m nice!”. She offered this: “You are more interesting than that.” Hmmm.

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