Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Olympics for the right brain

Kat Copeland wins Gold in the women's lightweight double sculls
(the emotion in her eyes was something I just had to attempt to capture in a sketch)

In a world where information has long been currency, creative ideas are suddenly turning into hot tickets. We live in an era of abundance, globalisation and technological advances that are shifting the balance. When I first read A Whole New Mind by Dan Pink I gleefully took on board his theory that right-brainers will be ruling the future.

Pink writes that as the number crunching and analysis is taken over by computing or cheaper overseas labour, it paves the way for those with stronger right brains whose inventiveness, empathy, creativity and pattern-forming crafting will be the foundations for success.

Some of us lean this way naturally, but the good news for all is that we have the tool we need to be in thick of the new world. It just needs a little exercise!

As I've watched Team GB rack up the medals in the last week or so (18 of them Gold at the last count!), I've heard tales of the dedication it takes to be a winner. It's all about practice and asking the right questions of yourself. Being creative is just like running, playing tennis or zipping around a velodrome. We get better at it the more we do it and the better we think and strategise.

I think that sometimes we pick up a paintbrush after years and get disheartened when we don't create a masterpiece with our first attempt. We forget that it's OK not to get things right first time and that failure is as much a part of practice as is repitition. It's how we learn and over time our failings develop more style, an extra edge until suddenly they aren't failings any longer.

Do you think about exercising those right brain muscles as much as you do other ones in your body?

A gold-medal-winning Olympic rower once told me that he and his team mates never stopped on their quest to improve - right up and even during to the final medal race. For Ben Hunt-Davis, it was all about making the boat go faster.

So, how do you exercise your right brain? What questions should you be asking yourself? How can you test and strengthen your abilities?

For a start, just do something creative! Pick up a your nearest drawing instrument and doodle. Stick on some music and let your pen flow to the rhythm. Try looking at every day things a bit differently. Look for shapes in the clouds or puddles on the road. Let your right brain absorb what it sees and make the kinds of connections that maybe you're just not expecting.

Me and Ben Hart-Davis (I'm the shorter one on the right!). Ben won gold at Sydney in the men's 8 rowing.
And, yes, I am holding the Olympic torch in one hand a gold medal in the other... not bad for a rainy day out in Birmingham!

"A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it,
bearing within him the image of a cathedral."
Antoine de Saint-Exupery


  1. I love the eyes - you really have captured her emotion. The Olympics have been fantastic so far - we are not great sports fans or TV watchers, but we have been glued to the set much of the time, and (horror of horrors) eating our meals in front of the TV. Great fun.

  2. Love the photo, I see two people sharing a moment of bliss and pride!! Wonderful post, and a great reminder to exercise our creative skills!!

    Hugs Giggles