Authenticity has become the vibranium of business, promoted as one of the most powerful and transformative traits a leader can yield. Yet, hindrances to developing and sharing our real selves come at us from every angle, often from places we can't control.
It's a reality that Rachel Lyubovitzky, CEO of technology company EverythingBenefits, knows all too well. Born in the Soviet Union in 1974, as a child, Lyubovitzky was forced to switch from using her naturally dominant left hand to using her right. (The prejudicial practice was also common in the United States due to a fear of cognitive deficits.) And while Lyubovitzky managed through the experience, later in life, she grew frustrated. She still did most activities with her left hand, anyway, and she wanted handwriting that actually was legible. And at the same time, she'd picked up Betty Edwards' Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, which made her curious about what she really should do to make her entire noodle fire hard.
Maybe switching back would help her work better and feel like she was in her own skin again.
So Lyubovitzky intentionally put her right hand on the back burner, writing with her left. But she was out of practice, and the effort was agonizing.
"I was very tempted to switch at all times," Lyubovitzky admits. "I used to mark in my diary how long I've used my left hand on a given day to encourage myself to keep going."
And gradually, the hard work started to pay off. Her handwriting became neater, like she wanted. She dove into drawing and even worked with an art instructor for over a year.
And that's where the magic really happened.
Because Lyubovitzky was used to using the fine motor control of her right hand for details, the art training forced her to approach her art with a broader, big picture perspective. She learned to focus on the main task, rather than getting too bogged down in the small stuff. And subconsciously, she started to switch to using her left hand at certain points in business meetings where larger, more conceptual understanding was key.
Invigorated, Lyubovitzky made it a point to cultivate an awareness of big picture thinking into her entire company.
"For example, when someone is answering a support ticket, the objective is not only in having to provide a timely and accurate response to the customer, but to dig deeper to understand the underlying reason why the question was asked to begin with. The insights learned may take us deeper into other areas of our organization including the training (on-boarding areas of the business), user experience (product groups), and clarity of messaging (sales and marketing)."
And that, Lyubovitzky asserts, is key to growth.
The training ultimately let Lyubovitzky open up and be herself, too.
"I do feel that, having gone through the exercise, I am truer to myself and am able to explore/expose a part of my capabilities better than if I had stayed with using only my right hand. This confidence has translated into other areas of my [life, and] I feel that, with a better grasp of both sides of my brain, from the creative and logical perspective, I am able to do more as a leader."
So, Lyubovitzky encourages, while you certainly can experiment with hand shifting yourself, the takeaway is, however you do it, find a way to challenge yourself! Get out of the habit of thinking so much in patterns, as that puts you at risk for applying less creative solutions that don't really fit to specific problems. Get your brain to do something it doesn't normally do and you might just unleash a fuller, more dynamic, real and innovative you.