The Myth of the Right Brained Thinker

right brainleft brain

Recently I posted that, in spite of our conventional wisdom, creativity doesn’t necessarily equate to the arts. Creativity is more universal than the gift and skill of artistry. Yet this false belief is pervasive. I heard it again this week.

The entire association of creative/artistic/right brained is rooted in a false dichotomy of the left brain and right brain.  A 2013 research study of over 1000 people aged 7-29, found no evidence for categorizing left vs right brained people. (Even the assumption that we can verify our identity through empirical evidence is messed up. This is a topic for another post.)

In my work in the church, most mentions of the word creativity seem to come in relationship to worship and the arts. These can benefit from creativity, to be sure, but the potential for innovation in church life goes far beyond worship. Innovation happens wherever there is creative thinking, applied.

The myth of the right brained thinker isn’t helpful because it suggests that we’re either hard wired for creativity or we’re not, and also because it suggests that the only kind of creativity is that which is related to artistic expression. Creativity is just as possible in electrical engineering as it is in songwriting or the culinary arts. Every one of us is capable of creative ideas.


Here’s the action step.

As a leader, give all of your people—including yourself—the freedom and encouragement to dream of better ways. This includes the maintenance team of your organization, or the accounting people. Schedule time for this to happen.


Ahout the Author

Len Wilson

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Christ follower. Storyteller. Strategist. Writer. Creative Director at St Andrew. Tickle monster. Author, Think Like a Five Year Old (Abingdon).