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Use Your Brains: All Three of Them




Excerpted from
The Other 90%: How to Unlock Your Vast Untapped Potential for Leadership and Life
By Robert K. Cooper, Ph.D.

You Have More Hidden Intelligence than You Ever Knew

The dinosaurs of the future will be those who keep trying to live and work from their heads alone. Much of human brilliance is driven less by the brain in your head than by newly discovered intelligence centers-now called "brain two and brain three"-in the gut and in the heart. The highest reasoning and brightest ingenuity involve all three of those brains working together.

Take Richard as an example. As a young boy, he was dyslexic and "number blind"-unable to perform even simple mathematical computations. By his own admission, he was "pretty hopeless" in traditional learning, and he dropped out of school at sixteen. Yet a recent public survey ranked him as the most intelligent man in Britain.

Excited by life and its possibilities, he never allowed his lack of formal schooling to hold him back. He just applied other forms of brilliance to his endeavors. His first ventures involved no cash and lots of dedication, but he insists they were fun, as he believes all work should be. Today his business empire generates annual revenues estimated at nearly $4 billion from forty principal companies, almost all of which Richard started from scratch. His airline is one of the most profitable in the business, and his venture into the financial services sector has transformed that entire industry. He has provided more than 25,000 jobs for people along the way.

"We are Britain's largest private company, and I still can't work out the difference between gross and net," he says. "I look at a crossword puzzle and I just go blank." Yet Richard Branson stands out from the business crowd in large part because he keeps unlocking more of his hidden potential by using all three of his brains, not just one.

Richard Branson is not alone in applying that kind of multi-brain brilliance. According to a survey that named the four hundred men and women who had the greatest leadership impact on the twentieth century, three out of five of them-including Edison, Einstein, Picasso, Henry Ford, Susan B. Anthony, Mark Twain, and the Wright brothers-had serious problems thinking in traditional ways or learning in school.

Outside the realm of the famous, "ordinary" people trusting all their brains are also changing the world. They are people like Gretchen Buchenholz, whose courageous action on behalf of the most vulnerable children in our society transcends everyday logic and the daunting power of the judicial system. She works to save the lives of babies born with AIDS-and overcame the resistance of the state of New York when it was refusing to identify infants with AIDS because it had decided that a mother's privacy was more important than her child's life.

Consider the story of seventeen-year-old Amber Coffman, who devotes many hours every week to feeding hundreds of homeless people. Who would do this for the past ten years, beginning at the age of eight, based solely on the rational thinking brain and not some added form of intelligence in the gut or heart?

On Saturday mornings, Amber, her mother Bobbi, and dozens of teenage volunteers gather to help others. They could be sleeping in, or going to the mall, or watching television, but their heart-felt commitment to the homeless leads them instead onto the streets of Baltimore carrying food, as they have done since 1993. They call themselves the Happy Helpers of the Homeless, and Amber says, "We have one of the largest families in the world." She plans to start a mentoring program for homeless and at-risk children, with an emphasis on homework and love. Each year on her birthday, instead of giving a party for herself, she gives a party for the homeless. It's unlikely that good thoughts, by themselves, would drive such an exceptional contribution from one individual. What other dimensions of intelligence may be in action here?

Neuroscience Has Turned Conventional
Wisdom Upside Down

The old view of how "brain one"-the brain in your head-influences human behavior can be summed up this way: Whenever you have a direct experience-such as interacting with a person or facing a challenge, problem, or opportunity-it comes to you through the five primary senses and enters the nervous system. In this traditional model, each experience goes right to the brain and you think about it, responding with behavior. Everything happens in your head.

Reality, as we will see in a moment, is nothing like that. In fact, whenever too much brain activity is drawn off into thinking and remembering, not enough brain energy is left for feeling and experiencing the scope and depth of what's new right now. As a result, performance that could be ingenious and practical becomes clumsy and irrelevant.

There are times when reliance on the thinking brain is not only insignificant to the acquisition and expression of caring or expertise; it actually seriously interferes.

Everyday we're learning more about the mysteries of human intelligence and ways to keep expanding and deepening our inherent potential. Here are several highlights of the findings to date: First, we now know that intelligence is distributed throughout the body. When it comes to brilliance or insight, we cannot separate the body from the mind. Whenever you have a direct experience it does not go directly to the brain to be thought about. The first place it goes is to the neurological networks of the intestinal tract and heart.



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