The Secret to Higher Performance: Think with Both Hands (Like a Brain Surgeon)

Both Hands2Photo credit: Lisa D. Warren (lisa@lisadwarren.com)
 

The secret to higher performance in life or in business is not exactly rocket science. It’s actually brain surgery.

 

When I was learning how to operate, one of my professors used to ask me to do two things at the same time. Like hold a tiny nerve out of his way using a micro-sized instrument while also using a suction tube in my other hand to clear blood out of his way so he could remove a tumor.

Sometimes I would move the suction tube and I’d have to be careful not to suck out the patient’s brain. While I was concentrating on that task, my other hand would drift a little and the nerve would slide into my professor’s way.

“Pay attention, Lee,” he’d say. “You have to think with both hands if you want to be a brain surgeon.”

I thought of this lesson again the other day when a new assistant was helping me in surgery. He kept moving both hands any time I asked him to do something, and I had to tell him several times to hold his left hand still so the tissue he was retracting wouldn’t be in my way.

When life makes you multi-task, you have to be able to do all of the tasks well or it can cause trouble.

In other words, you have to think with both hands.

Your kids need to eat breakfast, but the phone’s ringing and your husband can’t find his car keys and you’re about to pull out your hair because you’re hosting a webinar with your investors in twenty minutes.

Your boss needs your quarterly sales numbers for a presentation to his boss in an hour, but you’re also supposed to deliver a huge order to your biggest customer at the same time.

When you have more than one thing to do, how do you manage to do them both without letting either one suffer?

How do you help your professor while not killing your patient?

You think with both hands.

High performers manage multiple tasks without letting any of them be mediocre.  

Learn to think with both hands by doing these five things:

  • Think about it: Make sure that you’re consciously aware that moves you make on one front can distract you from another. Keep both tasks in your mind.
  • Check yourself: Keep an eye- mentally or physically- on all the jobs you’re managing even while one of them is drawing most of your attention.
  • Know the stakes: Constantly remind yourself what will happen if you let one of your hands move when it ought to be still, or be still when it needs to move.

The highest performers know that all of their projects deserve to be managed to the best of their abilities.

If you want to become healthier, feel better, and be happier in your life, relationships and business you will sometimes have to multi-task. Learn to think with both hands like a brain surgeon, and you’ll give yourself a great chance to succeed.

 

 

 

 

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I'm Dr. Lee Warren. I'm a writer and a neurosurgeon.

I help smart people understand how they're wired, so they can become healthier, feel better, and be happier.

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