Sunday, November 30, 2008

Two Brain Thinking

46. Two Brain Thinking

For several years now my wife and I have improved our general effectiveness through what we call, “the two brain system.” It may seem fairly simple and obvious once I’ve explained it, but it can make a big difference in the lives of busy people.
As you may know by now, I’m a big fan of calendars, day planners, and ‘to do’ lists. Frankly, I don’t see how anyone makes it through college without them. So often it’s not enough just to remember what needs to be done, you also have to be able to organize the order in which things get done.
Anyway, early in our relationship as a couple I asked Carla to help remember something for me. Maybe I had no place to write it down. I don’t remember the details. She asked, “Why are you telling me this?”
I responded, “I just figure that with two brains on the job we’re twice as likely to have one of us remember.”
“And if we both forget are you going to blame me for not having reminded you?”
“No.” And this is the crucial point. “I’m not making you responsible for this. It’s my problem, my responsibility. If it doesn’t happen, I can’t blame you, because I forgot it too. Hopefully, you won’t blame me, because I gave you the chance to remember it and you didn’t either.”
Now I can’t say whether ‘two brain thinking’ makes us more gentle with each other or being gentle with each other led to creating ‘two brain thinking,’ but it works. We are far less likely to miss the things we want to do, and we are less angry about the things that get by us. We are sharing information without trying to transfer either the responsibility or the blame.
This same psychology, though most beneficial in a marriage between two busy artists, can certainly be adapted to the use of two or more people in any kind of a shared studio. Tell each other things. Make it clear that you are involving the other person as a memory aid and not as someone to bear responsibility. Often just the act of telling someone else a thing will set it more firmly in your own mind. Encourage them to make similar use of your brain.
This system also works for more than just remembering errands and appointments. A wide variety of problems and puzzles can be solved more easily with a second viewpoint examining the facts. Again you do not surrender responsibility nor spread blame for failure. It’s not their problem. It’s your problem. But perhaps, between the two of you, better solutions will present themselves. You don’t have to face the world alone.
Two heads are better than one, but it’s how you use the brains inside those heads that really matters.

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