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Which Side Are You On? : Page 2 of 2

Which Side Are You On?

continued from page 1

One of the best tools to use to achieve this 'state of mind' is the Mind Map. In essence, Mind Maps are simple drawings or sketches of associations you hold between things in your mind. They normally start with a central topic, either in words or even better if expressed as an image. You then draw branches off from that image of the concepts that spawn from the central image.

So if you Mind Mapped something relatively trivial like a shopping list you might have a central image of a shopping trolley and branches such as fruit & veg, household, frozen food, beer & wine, dairy and desserts. You can see what my typical shopping list is like. To make it even more memorable, you can use images of products on each branch.

What makes such a trivial Mind Map so powerful is that with a little training, you can forget to take the shopping list along, yet easily memorise all of its contents. I always Mind Map any talk I give on a single sheet of paper and am then able to reproduce all the points I want to get across without any notes or slides.

Where Mind Maps really come into their own is in the area of creativity and especially free-flow brainstorming where previously hidden associations appear like magic.

Our Two Minds

Illustration: Our Two Minds
click for larger view

The left brain is your navigator through life and says to the right brain, "Aha, a map! I like maps, leave this to me, I'll handle it."

While the left brain is thus kept busy, the right brain seizes the opportunity to sneak under the left's radar to unleash its full creativity. Note incidentally, although there are many good software-based Mind Mapping tools on the market, some of the best Mind Maps are done with just pen and paper. The reason being that if you are grappling with the details of how the software works (or doesn't) and which button or menu does what, you get thrown into left brained mode.

So what is happening with a Mind Map is that the left brain handles the detail, semantics and structure of the map while the right brain keeps the whole map 'in mind' and is able to comprehend it as a whole.

The Mind Map simply doesn't care what side you are on as it activates both halves of our brain simultaneously such that 1 + 1 equals 3 or more.

For a detailed exploration of how we are quite literally in two minds, read The Master and His Emissary by Iain McGilchrist. •

Tom Evans Renaissance Man and Imagineer Tom Evans is the author of four books and counting about creativity. More »

8/10/11