I owe a lot to my high school art teacher.

Her name was Mrs. Renner. She introduced me to Betty Edwards' Drawing On The Right Side Of The Brain.

 So much more than drawing...

So much more than drawing...

That was when I first learned that there is an actual shift between hemispheres, one that you can feel and practice and get better at. That was when I really learned to draw, but more than that, I learned that anyone can learn this shift.

I also picked up a phrase that has stuck with me: "The right brain loves complexity." Whenever we would panic over having to draw something that seemed difficult and complicated, Mrs. Renner would say that, borrowing from Betty Edwards. It would remind us to lean in to the complex, because it was what the creative side of us really needed to grow.

Repeat after me...

If you modify Mrs. Renner's phrase you can make it into a mantra. 

My Right Brain loves complexity.

Think about the implications of that, way beyond drawing. If we approached complexity with excitement and a sense of wonder, rather than fear and loathing, what could be different? If we taught our co-workers and family members to feel the same way, what could we accomplish?

My Right Brain loves complexity.

Whenever things get messy, complicated, hard to sort out, and I'm feeling kind of scared about the whole thing, I remind myself, "My Right Brain loves complexity." It helps me be less reactive and more pro-active. It helps me embrace the situation and look for adventure in it, rather than dreading the mental work it may take.

My Right Brain loves complexity.

It is worth writing down, it is worth repeating as a mantra. It is true of all lasting creative endeavors, whether in the arts or in business, whatever the cause and whatever the objective. We will inevitably run into complications. How will we face them?

3 Ways To Respond

Your Right Brain can help you deal with complexity in many ways, but here are just three to get you started:

  • Observation. The Right Brain just gets excited to explore and observe. Your Left Brain is the part of you that says "OMG this is difficult." The Left Brain is required to put a label on everything. When it sees something complex, it says "SCARY! HARD! AVOID!" These are just labels. They do not necessarily describe the situation accurately.
  • Flow. That stressed-out feeling you get when you wake up in the morning and know you have a tricky day ahead with lots of fragmented tasks? Your Right Brain can help you flow through and around all of that like a stream over rocks. Getting into your RIght Brain will help the day go by in a more graceful way and with less stress.
  • Integration. When you have information overload, when you just can't fit one more fact or number or word in, that's when your Right Brain takes over. Especially if you give it space, rest, and time away from the tasks at hand. Your Right Brain can integrate all the complex bits of information that the Left Brain has analyzed. Your Right Brain will put the information through a kind of funnel, and come out on the other end with a newly synthesized, single idea, one that is clear and communicable.

If you give yourself time to adapt and process the complexity, you can handle it. More than that, you can come up with a truly creative response, one that hasn't been thought of before, if you will give your Right Brain the space it needs to handle the problem.


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