November 5, 2012

Tap Into Your Genius Brain

After leaving college, I took my first acting class at the famous Second City in Chicago. It was an improvisation class, and my first experience with improvisation.  I thought it was a waste of time. What I didn’t understand at the time was how improvisation forced me to tap into my “genius brain”.

I later realized that my first experience with my genius brain happened long before that class at Second City.  It happened almost every day, during lunch in high school. My friends and I would meet in the school cafeteria and for thirty minutes, I’d hold court. As we went back and forth in conversation, I’d come up with one liners and “zingers” that had everyone laughing.

I’d get into a funny zone that amazed me as much as it amused my friends. One time, after the bell rang and we were all heading back to class, I remember thinking to myself, “That was amazing. I was so funny. But what is it? How do I do that? ”

Have you ever been in a zone where you were just hilarious? You were at a party or with a group of people, just having fun, and for some reason, at that particular moment, you were the one who kept coming up with the funny punch lines and zingers. You weren’t trying to be funny. It just happened.

If you’ve never personally had that experience, have you ever been around someone whose constant creativity and out-of-the-box thinking amazes you? When we think of people who are able to connect the dots in outrageous and unpredictable patterns, we think of them as geniuses. Robin Williams is a famous example.

These people are able to tap into their genius brains on demand. They know how to look at a problem from a completely different angle than everyone else does, and to come up with a solution that is non-linear, creative, and yet often very practical.

In my experience with working with over 800 students and coaching clients, everyone has access to their genius brain through improvisation exercises. If you want to be spontaneously funny or to find a creative solution that sets you apart from everyone else, you need to tap into your genius brain.

I use the phrase “Genius Brain” to describe what happens when your right brain leads and your left brain follows. It’s what happens when both hemispheres of the brain work together in perfect harmony, yet the right-brain creativity has dominance. Your genius brain will surprise you with what it comes up with.

We’ve become a society of left-brain dominant thinkers. That’s not good or bad; it’s just the way it is. If you’re trying to get complex tasks done, you have to be organized and sequential. You have to be able to stay on task and filter out distractions. Your left brain specializes in sorting through everything you see, feel and experience and placing it into the proper file folders. Without your left brain, you’d be late for meetings, forget to look at your to-do list and put your car keys in the freezer.

It’s like your right brain comes up with the ideas and your left brain figures out what to do with them. Another way to think about it is that your right brain is the creative, spontaneous child and your left brain is the responsible adult. While the child is playing and having fun, the adult is watching to make sure the child doesn’t wander too far or get in trouble.

When you are in your genius brain mode, the left brain is there for support rather than its usual position of dominance. In my Story Theater Retreat, I use genius brain improvisation exercises to force students to think so fast and change direction so often that their left brain can’t keep up. What happens then is that the left brain sits back and watches as the right brain takes center stage.

You’ll notice that the logical left brain doesn’t go away; it simply waits for the moment to insert itself into the conversation. That moment occurs when the left brain detects a pattern or an opportunity to connect the dots in what appears to be seemingly random thoughts.  The left brain comes up with a surprising tie-in, which is often creative, hilarious, or both! When this connection emerges out of the chaos, that is your genius brain in action.

For most students, the end result is a revelation. They discover that can be really funny. To their amazement, they discover that their right creative brain is alive and well, and their left brain is all too willing to play. Without improvisation exercises that cause the right and left brain to work together in a new harmony, most people don’t know that their genius brain exists.

You have within you the capability to be wonderfully creative. You can be funny, really funny. For most people, however, that level of creativity and humor is not easily accessible. Your genius brain has been layered over with years and years of task-oriented left brain activity. All day long you work within defined parameters. If you don’t keep on top of it all, it all falls apart. Thank goodness your left brain is there to help you. You couldn’t function without it. However, for most of us, our left brain has over-shadowed our right-brain creativity.

If you want to develop your genius brain capabilities, come to my Story Theater Retreat or take an improvisation class. This will exercise your brain in ways you’ve never thought of, and it is lots of fun!

Call for your free 20-minute phone consultation with Doug Stevenson.

Call 719-573-6195 and ask for Deborah Merriman, the VP of Everything.

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