Leading and managing people is a form of art. It’s a creative process that draws on every aspect of your personality.
“How the creative process works” has been the subject of a great deal of study. For one thing, it draws on two ways of thinking: the intuitive, subconscious mind and the logical mind. In this blog, I want to take a look at how those aspects of our mind work together. And what it means for people who want to be the best leaders they can be.
First, the logical mind, as we all know, is very good at thinking through options, figuring out implications, and trying to reach conclusions. The logical mind is the voice in your head, reminding you what you need to do, walking you through alternatives, and trying to help you find the right path.
On the other side is the intuitive mind. It taps into our subconscious – and so by definition, we are barely conscious of it. Things pop into our minds when we wake up from a deep sleep, or swimming laps or looking at a piece of art. You don’t hear the subconscious mind in the same way as the logical mind. It’s a wisp of something we catch in midair.
I tap into both of these minds when I write a song – which is my creative outlet. It can begin subconsciously. I’m fiddling with the piano or guitar and suddenly discover an interesting new chord progression or melody. And a surprising thing happens: a song is born. Not fully formed, of course, but enough where I see the potential.
When my intuitive mind runs out of ideas (and it can!), I turn to my logical brain to see what it can do. I might try to get a verse or two written. If it all comes together, great! If not, I turn to something else and trust in my intuitive mind to keep working behind the scenes.
A song can happen in the reverse order, too. It can start with a deliberate intention to use a particular key or chord progression. I test out different options to see which sound better. I may have a particular phrase that I want to put to music. And then, when the logical mind runs out of ideas (or gets bored!), I’ll put it down and let the intuitive mind play around for a bit.
My point is that the creative process is a balance between these two – our intuitive mind and our logical mind.
The logical mind helps us stay on track, reminds us of our goals, and identifies options. Meanwhile, the intuitive mind helps us tap into what we’re really feeling. It enables us to pick up signals that our logical minds may be filtering out because of confirmation bias or other reasons.
Both the logical and intuitive mind is affected by our emotions. Our logical mind is aware of our desires and fears, at least to some extent, as it tries to weigh different options. But our intuitive mind helps us sense our deeper emotions and reveal what we’re truly feeling – for example, a sense of relief in the face of the loss, or a feeling of anxiety when everything seems to be going well.
The net impact of this interplay, when it’s working well, is better decision-making ability. When the balance is working well, it helps you make wiser decisions. You’ll figure out who’s ready for a new role. Or where you should be spending your time. Or what to do about that new initiative that seems to be going nowhere.
The final question I would pose is how do you cultivate this interplay? Because I think we’re trained to use our logical minds more frequently, I encourage people to use their intuitive minds, to spend time on creative outlets. One CEO I work with grows grapes and makes wine. Another cultivates it by painting landscapes. Ask yourself: What could I be doing more of to help cultivate my intuitive mind?
I hope you enjoy!