Four Standout Skills You Didn't Know You Had

The Right Brain is creative, everyone knows that. But just how it is creative is key to understanding its value to you as a professional.

Your Right Brain supplies many of your most valuable skills. In addition they are ways of looking at the world differently which over time lead to higher quality results.

The following four Right Brain skills fall under the acronym O.A.R.S.:


Your Right Brain can simply observe the world around you, without judging or evaluating it. We miss many opportunities when we are busy jumping to conclusions: "That person is of no use to me, so I won't waste time with him."

When we leave the world of judging something for its usefulness, we can be more observant of details, behaviors, clues that we might otherwise miss, leading to a more thorough sense of the problem, and a better understanding of the resources available, such as a co-worker's unique strengths that aren't readily visible to others.


Change is inevitable, but adapting to change is hard. Even when we say we want a change we can put up all sorts of subconscious and self-sabotaging blocks. That's because change feels unsafe.

The Right Brain is better at adapting because it doesn't judge. The label "unsafe" comes from the Left Brain. The fear of loss, fear of being out of control, fear of disruption that comes from change all come out of a self-protective Left Brain (connected also to the amygdila or "Lizard" Brain, which regulates the fight-or-flight response.)

The Right Brain can mirror

The Right Brain can mirror

The Right Brain can mirror. It can reflect other people's emotions, and respond to complexity without seeing any of it as difficult or threatening. Like water taking the shape of whatever vessel it is in, the Right Brain is adaptive to its surroundings, without feeling threatened by them.


Communication is essential in business, everyone knows that. But just how to communicate in a way that is at once clear, winsome, and influential? That's harder. Like the first two skills, the reason it is hard is because the Left Brain isn't very good at it.

The Left Brain can sequence, bullet-point, and rule-speak. It can command and control. It cannot relate. The Right Brain knows how to merge with the other, so instead of talking at a person you are talking with her. True relating causes people to feel heard, and to trust, two factors that are essential to all influence.


It's scary how quickly Sherlock Holmes can put together disparate pieces of information together, that no one else would have observed or connected. But imagine if Sherlock Holmes lived inside your head. Your Right Brain is like Sherlock Holmes. It can put all the details that it has observed together into an integrated whole. Once you have spent time carefully looking and listening to other people and to your environment, like Sherlock you can make connections that weren't apparent before.

This is where the powerful results of the Right Brain skill set are made manifest, as all of the observing, adapting, and relating you've done begin to coalesce into a vision, a road map, and a concrete action plan. 

Call To Action: Putting Your OARS in the water

The best way to start applying this learning is to pick one specific objective in which to apply OARS.

Example 1: Your business isn't getting enough revenue and you've identified that you are not reaching enough people in your target market. To engage OARS you need to conduct a planning session (with yourself or with your team) that would answer the following questions:

  1. How can we better OBSERVE our market? What set of behaviors do they have that we might be missing? What is a powerful reality for them that both grounds their thinking AND motivates them? How can we get beyond the usual ways we have tried before to do market assessment?
  2. In what ways can we ADAPT better to our market? How are we not adapting (doing what is important to us and not to them?) What systems are out of step with current market needs? What systems would help us be more adaptive?
  3. How do we RELATE to our market more winsomely and in a way that is consumable by them? How do we make them feel individually special, part of something important, or unique?
  4. How do we SYNTHESIZE everything we've learned? What data have we gathered, and what still needs to be gathered? When and how will we intentionally process this data and synthesize it into a story? How will we define clear objectives and actions? What new objectives have presented themselves from our observation, adaptation, and relating?

Example 2: Your team is not performing at peak. You're not sure why, since everyone is doing their job, but you know they could be more innovative. You sense that a lot of potential is going untapped. You suspect it has something to do with the institutional framework you are in. Constraints are there in the form of regulations, rules, and habits of mind that keep everyone repeating the same behaviors.

To engage OARS in this context you need to combine decision-makers (upper-level, senior management) with middle and lower-management, along with the team members who will be affected by decisions, and answer the following the questions honestly:

  1. What rules, systems, procedures or habits do you OBSERVE that are not working, are outdated, wasteful, unnecessary? What rules or procedures are demoralizing or demotivating? What rules or procedures place a damper on creativity and innovation? (Careful, generous listening needs to happen here on the part of the upper management. Often the people closest to the problems, that is, the rank-and-file workers themselves, are the ones who will provide the best feedback about what is and is not working. The OBSERVE skill in this case is one of careful, generous listening.)
  2. What are one or two ways we can change (even if only by 5%) to ADAPT to this received internal feedback about our systems?
  3. How can we better RELATE to this team in the future? What dialogue and feedback systems do we need more of? What builds trust with this team?
  4. Beyond short-term procedures and tactics, how can we SYNTHESIZE this process with our overall paradigms? What specific paradigms do we have that have led to these issues? How can we begin working to change those paradigms?

In the first example, the OARS engagement is focused outward, toward the market. The second example focuses inward, toward team effectiveness. In many cases you will need to conduct both of these efforts simultaneously (just remember, the Right Brain loves complexity!)

The importance of a framework

Whether you are trying to address your market externally, or focus on more internal organizational issues, you can use the Observe, Adapt, Relate, and Synthesize questions to help provide a framework.

Not only will this process help you be more "idea" creative, it will generate specific feedback and tangible results, that you can then use to re-engage the process and gain momentum.

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