Are you a realist, or a dreamer? Do you organise, or do you prefer to socialise? Dr Kobus Neethling, president of the SA Creativity Foundation and developer of Neethling Brain Instruments, says the ability to understand how you think is a critical skill for the entrepreneur.
“It has long been acknowledged that each hemisphere of the brain has its own specialist functions,” says Neethling. “Most of us prefer the functions and processes of one of the two hemispheres to the other. The key is to understand how you and your team think so that you are aware of how you communicate, how you act towards other people, how you learn, teach and solve problems, and how you do business.
The Eight Dimensions
The left and right brain processes can be divided into two definitive categories, effectively separating the brain into four quadrants, two on the left (L1 and L2), and two on the right (R1 and R2), each of which is further divided in two.The two dimensions identified within the L1 quadrant are the Realist (who prefers clarity of thinking, exactness and thoroughness) and the Analyst (who wants to discover the essence of things and dig deeper).
In the L2 quadrant, there is the Stalwart (who prefers traditional approaches and appreciates rules and regulations) and the Organiser (who prefers to plan, to sort out and classify).
In the R2 quadrant there is the Socialiser/Networker (who likes to network and meet people) and the Empathiser (who likes to assist and reach out to others). Lastly, in the R1 quadrant we find the Strategist (who predicts and strategises) and the Fantasiser/Imagineer (who thinks in pictures and imagines impossible ideas). “If you’re selling a car to an L2, you’ll focus on proven methods, practises and values,” says Neethling. “An L2 will buy the car and read the manual from cover-to-cover, whereas an R1 will own the car for five years without ever taking the manual out of its cellophane wrapping.”
Whole Brain Thinking
What is the significance of whole brain thinking in business? “Quite simply, organisations which are able to put all eight dimensions of the brain into action – what we call whole brain strategising – can optimise organisational performance,” says Neethling.Successful entrepreneurs are often found in the R1 quadrant. “They start off in the imagineering dimension, playing loosely with ideas. From there, they begin to strategise and think about tomorrow, which is when planning becomes important. Next, they enter the dimension of the realist or analyst, putting their plans onto action and then ensuring that they monitor and assess results. That done, the truly innovative entrepreneur will start to dream up new ideas, and so the cycle continues.”
Neethling notes that many highly creative people become extremely frustrated because they are unable to turn their ideas into reality. However, this is not an irredeemable situation. People can be trained to turn their ideas into reality through a profound process of change.
“One of the greatest stumbling blocks for the entrepreneur is negativity,” says Neethling. “It’s a subtle disease that sends the brain into problem-mode thinking. Others around you realise it and are influenced by it, to the disadvantage of everyone and the business. And when times are hard, people are even more likely to express negativity – every day we are told how bad the economy is, and eventually that becomes part of our belief system.
Neethling and his team have developed a 29-day habit-changing programme that helps people to overcome unconstructive, pessimistic behaviour. “It takes three to four weeks to redesign your thinking processes and get rid of bad habits – whether it’s smoking, eating the wrong food, or thinking negatively. If you stick with the programme for 29 days, the old habit dies and you develop a new one that comes to you spontaneously and without effort.”
He suggests trying out this method in the traffic. Choose a route that is always busy and taken by lots of taxis, and then force yourself to practice patience and acceptance; watch how, over time, your aggressive response becomes one of tolerance.
Write it Down
Neethling recommends keeping a negativity diary. “R2 dominant people, who are sensitive and passionate, tend to give up because of bad self-talk. L2s, on the other hand, find it more difficult than others to change established routines because they are so much more disciplined and organised.”He suggests writing down what the result is of your particular bad habit, and then noting the alternative. If you list five negatives (I cannot do this task because …), be sure to list fives positives (I can do this because I am …).
“Over time, the negative thoughts begin to recede into the background as you train yourself to focus on what you are capable of achieving. We have done this exercise with groups of up to 600 people and seen the evidence as positivity translates into energy, creativity – and increased sales.”
The Eight Quadrants of the Brain
L1 – Realist
L1 – Analyst
R1 – Strategist
R1 – Imagineer
* Authoritative leadership style
* Stands firm on issues
* Doing it “right” is more important than doing it together
* Identifies priorities and work with certainties
* New ideas, alternative ways
* Visionary leader
* Open to new ways of doing things
* Informal leadership style
* Comfortable with sharing authority
L2 – Stalwart and Preserver
L2 – Organiser
R 2 – Empathiser
R2 – Socialiser
* Leads by following proven methods and practices
* Prefers employees with skills and experience
* Likes rules and regulations
* Sets high standards for planning and productivity
* No deviation from procedure
* Likes checklists, supervision and evaluation
* Values the person above the task
* Motivates, encourages and inspires
* Open-door policy
* Sensitive to atmosphere
* Team-focused leader
* Likes to communicate
* Encourages feedback
* Involves other in decisions
Unleashing Potential and Optimising Performance.
Whole brain strategising puts all eight dimensions of the brain to work.
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