True Genius

by Lou Solomon dated December 19, 2010

Recently I heard Hugh McColl, Jr. speak with candor about growing up in Bennettsville, South Carolina, his career successes and his mistakes. Those of us in the audience listened and laughed as though we were in the company of a dear friend.

Extraordinary people have way of appealing to the common sense buried in us all that recognizes the knowing of the heart.  We love that rare moment when someone breaks through the surface-speak in the boardroom and says something deeper. Everyone knows something real has happened. It gives other people permission to speak from the truth of their own experience.  Full self-expression can be infectious.

Many of us have this outdated idea that speaking from the heart is about getting sentimental and sugar-coated.  But speaking from the knowing of the heart takes courage.

Chances are, at some point in your life, you’ve contemplated a job, move or partnership and said, “Something just doesn’t feel right.”  Perhaps you over-ruled yourself and went ahead and did it anyway— and sure enough, it was the wrong move.  The person was a crazy-maker.  The job actually was too good to be true.

Why are we not encouraging business people to call upon the resources of their imagination, gut knowing and the knowing of the heart?  Because the computer-like, cognitive aspects of the brain still rule in the “serious” disciplines.  No doubt, these aspects are exquisite.  But they are not the sum of our genius.

In 1981, neurologist Roger Sperry won the Nobel Prize in Medicine for his work in identifying the “Left Brain” to be the home of calculations, math and logical abilities.  The “Right Brain” is responsible for imagination, vision and creativity.

We have over-identified with our Left Brain. The most formidable human beings among us have the whole brain, gut instincts and the knowing of the heart working together like a grand symphony.

The oldest Chinese symbol for “mind” is a drawing of the heart.  At the Institute of HeartMath, researchers have identified two major neuronal networks in the body in addition to the brain.  Certainly the largest network is the brain.  But there are two other sizable clusters of neurons, in the intestinal track and in the heart chamber. There is a physiological connection for gut knowing and the knowing of the heart.

The good news is that people are waking up. Noted researchers, educators and authors are leading the way.  We are beginning to understand that it is our life-long assignment to draw from all centers of knowing to experience the height of our giftedness.

Note:  This is a reissue by request of the same article that ran last holiday season. 

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Lou Solomon

Lou Solomon is the founder of Interact. She is a TEDx speaker and a member of the adjunct faculty at the McColl School of Business at Queens University of Charlotte. Her articles have appeared in Harvard Business Review, Entrepreneur.com, CEO.com, and Fast Company.