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How to access the full potential of the brain

Updated: Jul 18


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Here is the science as brief as I can make.

Here is the science as brief as I can make. Iain McGilchrist is one of the leading experts on how the brain works and I really recommend reading Iain’s work and visiting his website. His videos are particularly good. As are his books.

What the science says, especially what Iain says, is that in the 60' and 70's it became popular to think that the left part of the brain does reason and the right part does imagination. It has since been found to be untrue.

I never liked the idea that some of us are left brain thinkers and some of us are right brain thinkers. It felt too rigid. I knew my brain was more fluid than that. I know brains can rewire themselves. I know the brain constantly modifies and reconfigures its circuitry to adapt to situations and building expertise.


Iain has improved the theory by showing that both sides of the brain are involved in everything we do. None of us should be left brain only or right brain only. We are all both.


Both parts of our brain are involved in everything. For example, language is a skill of reason and imagination. We need both reason and imagination. To be technical and intuitive. Practical and empathic. To process detail and see the bigger picture.


We need both parts of the brain for everything. For example, to repeat a piece of music we need to know the individual notes and the order they are played, (left brain). But to experience the notes as music, to connect to it, be taken away by it, we need to experience the whole, (right brain). We need the left and right parts of our brain to repeatedly experience amazing music. With team sports the music notes might be our teammates and when the team flows together we make music. In individual sports the music notes could be a mechanical component part of say a swimming stroke and we make music when we connect the parts to create a smooth flowing swimming stroke. The science says that to be at our best, we all need to use the left side of the brain and the right side of the brain for everything we do.


The science is backed up by what the best of the best say

For example, Michael Jordon once said “talent can win a game, it takes intelligence and teamwork to win a championship. To me, MJ meant talent is the left brain. Intelligence and teamwork are the functions of the right brain. The science is backed up by what the best of the best say.


If we want players to access the full potential of the brain it makes sense to coach both sides of the brain.

If we want players to access the full potential of the brain it makes sense to coach both sides of the brain. The right brain of connection and flow is a moment, a feeling, between people and the world around us that can’t be put into words. Or if we try to put it into words it becomes a mechanical process of left brain. It stops being the right brain. It's hard to coach how to use the right brain. It is easy to coach the left brain. Coaches use words to describe standardised mechanical steps that they help everyone to correctly follow in what is often called a performance pathway. This is why most coaches coach the left brain and why we are coached to learn and follow left brain mechanical processes.


We know from the science of how the brain doesn’t work that when the left brain is overcoached and overused the left brain inhibits access to the right brain and connection and flow are lost. When we are only coached to use our left brain we only use half the brain. We don’t use the full potential of the brain. When we only use the left brain we tend to fixate on learning more about what we already know ... about what we already know. We often get stuck when we what we know stops working. We can’t imagine there are other ways. We can’t see what we don’t know we don’t know because we only do what makes sense and what we don’t know doesn’t make sense.


We don’t try to coach the right brain. We stop the left brain inhibiting access to the right brain and then coach players to use both sides of the brain.

We don’t try to coach the right brain. We use the process of playing sports and games to create opportunities to stop the left brain from inhibiting access to the right brain. When players can ACCESS the left and right sides of the brain it becomes possible to coach players to use BOTH sides of the brain.


We help players access the right brain by playing sports and games in spaces that are dynamic, fluid, and changing where everyone is encouraged to try things they are not sure will work and see mistakes as opportunities to learn what they didn’t know they didn't know. The fact we care less about mistakes makes it harder for the left brain to inhibit access to the right brain making it easier for everyone to experience the joy of connection and flow and see the right brain without losing access to the left brain. This gives players access to both sides of the brain.

We, coach players, to use both sides of the brain by showing them how to build their own unique unplanned sequences of micro-decisions to sometimes use the left brain to be mechanical and correct and sometimes use the right brain to connect and flow. Each unique unplanned sequence of micro-decisions is the brain constantly modifying and reconfiguring its circuitry to adapt to a situation and building expertise. It accessing the full potential of the brain.


Players share experiences of using the full potential of brain.

For example, a swimming stroke becomes a mix of left brain mechanical components which the right brain connects and flows together. In basketball the right brain sees what is unfolding around them, the left brain executes a mechanical skill to respond to what happening and then goes back to the right brain to see what is unfolding. Players execute the mechanics of the game while connecting and flowing as a team. Players share experiences of using the full potential of brain.


We build a belief that we are good enough to be more than we are now. And we laugh.

By sharing experiences of setting each other up to succeed. By helping each other to use mistakes to find what is next and grow ... we build a belief in ourselves that we can imagine other ways. That we are not stuck as we are now. That we know how to find what we don’t know, we don't know. We are good enough to be more than we are now. And we have a laugh.


Any questions are welcome


Jon.Thorne@LifeSkills21.club


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