When I was working for large businesses I became increasingly aware that in order to get something on people’s radar it had to be distilled to one page of A4 and be supplemented by a spreadsheet. This seemed to be part of the reductionist trend, in the west at least, where we have to be able to prove something for it to be valid and valued. To me, this leads us to place a disproportionate emphasis on what we think, at the expense of what we feel, or know in other ways.
Imagine my delight when I came across an approach1 where cognition and intuition have been synthesised together as neuroscience is now beginning to confirm what esoteric and spiritual traditions have known for millennia – that we have three intelligence centres (brains). The Head, the Heart and the Gut.
As Dr Henrie Lidiard says “We have had a great many years of our cultures, governments and organisations focussing on cognition and intelligence at the head level, however the evidence that this hasn't been wholly sufficient is overwhelming and all around us. As the world becomes more volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA), and as the pace of change becomes greater and greater, interest is growing in discovering what defines our most effective leaders, what goes in to making wise, sustainable decisions, what makes people really creative in solving complex problems, what makes them truly compassionate and deeply intuitive and resilient.
The answer? These attributes are found in people who do not function solely from the neck up. They are consistently found in people who have access to all their innate intelligences and who furthermore, who have access to them in alignment.”
My interest is in how we can all be at our best more of the time – whether we’re going to be leaders of nations, of business teams, of a local sports team or of our families.
I did a bit of synthesising of my own and combined the head, heart and gut concept with my practice of Clean Language2 and came up with the following questions to experiment with.
“And when …. (client’s words) what does your head know about …. (client’s words)?”
“And when …. (client’s words) what does your heart know about …. (client’s words)?”
“And when …. (client’s words) what does your gut know about …. (client’s words)?”
I was surprised by how easily people answered these questions, often without even raising an eyebrow – until they realised what they now knew.
I’ve shared the idea with colleagues who have no Clean Language experience and they have used them to great effect when facilitating business strategy conversations. So far I’ve noticed that the head usually knows facts, data and has ideas; the heart knows emotions, feelings and has passion; and the gut knows what to do, or what needs to happen and has energy.
Whilst all the knowledge might have come out without asking the individual questions it seems to be easier for people to be able to generate the information in bite sized chunks and helpful to be able to identify the separate sources.
I found it important to keep it light and move on so that the brains were kept discrete and used for what they were best at. All the information is then brought together with a “and what do you know now” type question. I’ve also experimented with the order and further variations of the questions – of which more in part 2.
I even experimented with asking the moderators of this blog to give me their feedback as answers to the three questions. Their responses were.
“My head likes it. It’s interesting and thought provoking.”
“My heart is happy, as it doesn’t need much editing – apart from two typos.”
“My gut…I don’t know…which suggests I don’t do anything right now although it’s something to explore further at some point.”
Lovely – succinct and distinct feedback which was easy to give.
If you're curious about how your head, heart and gut work, try it. The next time you're facing a dilemma or want to explore something, ask yourself the questions. And notice what happens. I'd love to hear your stories.
1. mBIT multiple Brain Integration Techniques by Grant Soosalu & Marvin Oka as shared by Dr Henrie Lidiard www.nlpinthenorth