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If a man’s wit be wandering, let him study the mathematics.

Bacon, Francis

—Francis Bacon (Public domain)

…By my God-given nature, I am a “right-brain” person. According to cognitive psychology, the right brain controls creativity, intuition, and human emotion. As a visual learner, I gravitate towards graphs, charts, and illustrations.

I know other people who are left-brain dominant. They naturally gravitate toward the sciences, mathematics, and linear thinking. I often marvel at the ease with which they tackle complicated equations, yet I have seen these individuals fumble awkwardly through simple social interactions.

There are two trains of thought with respect to embracing and accepting which side of your brain dominates your life. Do you “play to your strengths,” making the most of what God has blessed you with, or do you relentlessly tackle your weaknesses in order to strengthen your skills in new arenas. The answer lies somewhere in the middle.

While ruminating over a challenging business decision I had to make a few years back, my wandering eyes made their way to a book on mathematical equations sitting in a dusty corner of my bookshelf. Needing a mental break, and deciding it was too early to crack a beer, I pulled out the book, along with my notepad and pencil, and delved into some equations. After about ninety minutes of getting lost in the analytical world of math, something drew my attention back to the pressing business challenge. Quite suddenly, new ideas for and answers to the challenge were coming to mind. It wasn’t simply that I took a break from my problem, it was the fact that I had engaged the other side of my brain during that break!

I have successfully used this method numerous times since my “breakthrough,” and then I came upon this wonderfully simple quote by Francis Bacon, one of the brilliant minds which helped to form the Age of Reason. Francis Bacon, much like his relative contemporary Benjamin Franklin, excelled in both the left-brain scientific realm as well as the right-brain political and social arenas. Perhaps it was their willingness to bounce between diverse subjects that helped them excel in multiple fields.

So, continue to develop and use your natural talents to move forward in life, but don’t be afraid to tackle something outside of your comfort zone. It may lead to unexpected results.

MSH, Penn Wealth

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