A year ago we might have said something like, “The world is changing at lightning speed!” Now, in 2021 and beyond, we’re asking questions like, “How do we even navigate the future?”
Here’s where it starts: with leaders who navigate with creativity and agility.
The greatest need is for leaders who can guide teams into completely unknown territories to create something new — for this new world.
We need leaders who aren’t afraid of pushback and obstacles, who can stay the course even when circumstances are chaotic.
WHAT HAPPENED TO CURIOSITY?
I’ll let the life of a Sea Squirt illustrate my point.
The Sea Squirt is a fascinating animal. They typically are found grouped together in tidal pools. If poked, they will squirt you in the eye. Yes, they have a built-in squirt gun.
In its juvenile state, it has a brain and uses it to search for a great rock in the best location. And once it finds what it is searching for, it will attach to that rock for life. What happens next is truly remarkable. With no need to search, no need to be curious, no need to explore, its brain becomes a bit useless. And so it digests its own brain.
It then spends all of its limited energy just existing, sucking in whatever plankton and organic material that floats by. No thinking required.
As I compare the sea squirt experience to ours, is it really that different for humans?
Early in life, we are curious, searching, exploring. We use the full capability of our right brain, characterized by curiosity and out-of-the-box thinking (as opposed to the left, which is for analytical and methodical thinking).
As we age, we often lock onto a “rock” of an idea/belief/job that gives us the certainty, safety and security we’re looking for. As a result, we no longer have much use for the curious half of our brain. And while we may not digest our right brain entirely, it does atrophy from lack of use.
Here are three tell-tale signs that your right brain may be parked in storage:
- You immediately jump to a solution when faced with a problem. Our left brain prefers to pattern-match what it’s seeing now compared to what it has seen before, quickly connecting to an already-utilized solution. The left brain hates problems it hasn’t seen before.
- You get overly anxious when faced with uncertainty or the unknown. In times of chaos or change, our left brain doesn’t offer much help. It is built to be an optimizer that incrementally sorts, sucks in and spits out the plankton and organic material that floats by in the routine of day-to-day.
What if the plankton stopped coming? It’s highly unlikely the left brain would question the rock it has attached itself to. I would just as well ride it out versus question the rock.
- You become defensive or resist confrontation when your ideas are challenged. Like the sea squirt, if you quickly respond to a challenge by using your squirt gun to push back, you are probably over-indexing on left-brain thinking.
The left brain is quick and effective at keeping the status quo the status quo. In truth, the industrialized workplace has made left-brained leadership the preferred approach as it prizes efficiency and conformity over originality and creativity.
In today’s disrupted VUCA world, an over reliance on left-brained thinking and “way of being” creates a fragility. Imagine you are frozen in place -- stuck on your rock. What will come of you when the rock crumbles or the tide changes and the plankton isn’t floating by your stuck position anymore?
It’s time to awaken the right brain. Thankfully, it is possible.
For many — if not most — companies, the rock of the past is crumbling or has crumbled. The old ways of thinking were useful for a time, but they don't apply anymore.
Learn those pro tips for rebuilding the muscle when you check out my next article Right Brain Rebuild 101.
When you work to build an adaptable mindset and practice key methods, you’ll become “unstuck.” You’ll find yourself embracing the unknown and craving creativity.
Start your right brain rebuilding today when you download and start working through the free resource 5 Big Questions Checklist & 5-Part Video Series.
Have you started answering the 5 Big Questions? Be sure to leave a comment and let us know what you’re discovering. We’d love to hear from you!