Being Right (brained) / by Christina Rosalie

When I started snowboarding, I started with my left foot forward on the board. It’s the standard way to do it. Go to the mountain and you’ll see: almost everyone has their left foot first, and at first I didn’t even think to question it. Except that it was wild to try to get my brain to conform to the movement. For the first two times we went to the mountain I had to perform complex mental acrobatics to be able to get myself down the mountain. I had to visualize every single turn, and it felt strange and unfamiliar, but I couldn’t put my finger on what the feeling meant to me.

At first I thought it was just part of the process of learning this new sport. I’d ride the lift, fall off getting off, stand, clip my bindings and then begin my elaborate inner dialogue. I’d have to talk myself through each and every turn, as though I were translating the action to my brain from another language. And I’d make it to the bottom, baffled and astounded by the difficulty.

I’m not brilliantly coordinated by any stretch; but I am athletic and strong. And it felt strange to me that I couldn’t get beyond my own mind; that after two trips to the mountain I still couldn’t ride without extreme mental focus.

Then I talked to some friends who are boarders and one kindly told me to stand and then pushed me hard from behind.

I stumbled forward, right foot first.

“Ha!” she laughed. “You’re goofy footed. Try putting your bindings the other way around.”

I promptly got my bindings switched and the next time we went to the mountain the process was awkward, but already I could feel my body taking over. After a few runs, my mind grew quiet and my muscles began to lead: my body moving to it’s own remarkable choreography of balance and motion, my mind present only in the sensation.

Yesterday I was carving beautiful arcs down the mountain, and I could feel the way the motion was suddenly natural to me. Half down a run by myself I started laughing because everything suddenly came together for me: of course I’m right footed. I’m also right brained.

And soaking up all the goodness over at the Right Brainers Business Summit has made me realize: I’ve been approaching money and strategic planning and many other elements in my life much the way I was trying to approach snow boarding: from a left brained slant that feels utterly foreign.

Because it is.

I’ve been trying to work within a left brained paradigm. Spreadsheets, for example: they feel almost painfully unnatural to me. Linear organization has always felt lacking. I can’t wrap my mind around rows of numbers without some form of translation. I’m always drawing pictures and diagrams to make things make sense.

And I realize now that part of my unresolved relationship with money comes from telling myself certain left brained myths: that successful entrepreneurs are left brained, MBA, straight talking folk who crush on Excell; and strategic business plans and growing money can only be approached through crunching data.

Pam Slim spoke at the RBBS a few days ago and I found myself relating deeply to what she had to say.

Pam shared that she grew up in a rich neighborhood, but without a lot of money, and reflected on how this shaped her view about money for a long time: "Things are imprinted from a young age. I remember always hearing my mom worry about money. There were some things that were set in my psyche about money early on."

Such as “Good people make teacher’s salaries” and for a long time when she didn’t “want to be greedy” about asking her full worth.

But asking her full worth is what has enabled Pam to become an investor in the causes she is passionate about.

That struck a chord. I want to give more than just being in the trenches. I want to invest.

I also loved this little bit of advice that she gave: “Document your assumptions every month. You forget what your assumptions are and you can’t measure your progress and make adjustments unless you revisit your assumptions regularly.”

So. Here’s to documenting assumptions.

What are yours?