Leadership

How understanding the way your brain works can help you be more successful

It goes without saying that the way your brain functions has a huge impact on your performance at the office. But what if you could control how you use your brain and, therefore, the level of success at work and in life?

Brain researcher Jill Bolte Taylor claims this is possible. She says that by relying on unique functions of each side of the brain, we can capitalize on what she calls "whole brain living" in our professional lives.

Taylor, who is the best-selling author of "My Stroke of Insight" and whose TED Talk earned over 20 million views, breaks down the role of both hemispheres. Notably, she suffered a stroke in her 30s, which inspired her to write about the subject in-depth and speak about her experience to others.

The human brain is divided into two halves: the right hemisphere and the left hemisphere. Taylor explains in her TED Talk that the right hemisphere is much more present, connected to the human family and streams all of our sensory systems into a collage of the here and now.

Conversely, the left hemisphere works linearly and methodically and is all about the past and the future. The left is designed to take that right hemisphere's collage of the present moment and start picking out, categorizing and organizing its details.

At work, the right hemisphere is much more positive and self-fulfilled. "It says, 'I'm good, I value people around me and I take time to do what I need to do in a kind and loving way,'" Taylor tells CNBC Make It. She says this allows us to create meaningful relationships in our professional lives and establish genuine connections.

Meanwhile, we live in a society that Taylor calls more left brain dominant. "We focus on how much money can I make, how high on the ladder can I get and competitiveness," she says. "That's all the left hemisphere."

Taylor notes that the right brain is not analytical, logical and critical like the left brain. Therefore, we must still tap into the properties of the left in order to function. However, Taylor argues that when using both hemispheres, we should lean more heavily on the right brain, or her term "whole brain living."

"Don't let the right brain serve the left brain," she says. Instead, she suggests people should primarily use the right brain because it helps people realize that "relationships have value and says I am compassionate." She adds, "Then use the skill set of the left brain to be functional and critically analyze the world."

Author Jill Bolte Taylor and educator Sir Ken Robinson speak at the 2008 Freedom Awards, held at the University of Southern California on September 15, 2008 in Los Angeles, California.
Michael Tullberg | Getty Images
Author Jill Bolte Taylor and educator Sir Ken Robinson speak at the 2008 Freedom Awards, held at the University of Southern California on September 15, 2008 in Los Angeles, California.

We all have the power to choose "moment by moment" who we want to be, says Taylor. She believes that we can train ourselves to become more right brain dominant in our professional lives. All it takes is paying close attention to "what gets in the way of yourself," she says.

Taylor notes that in the workplace, those who use their left hemisphere tend to be more critical. She suggests paying attention to the "circuitry that you're running," establishing whether it "does or doesn't serve you" and then tapping into the one that does serve you.

Before exercising her right hemisphere, Taylor says she was very "go, go, go," but once she became right brain dominant everything shifted and she "became more a part of the world."

With that came tremendous success she says. She was chosen by TIME Magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World for 2008 and was interviewed by Oprah and Dr. Oz on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in October of that year.

"I no longer go out and seek things," says Taylor. "I make things happen. I'm very aware and I allow things to have meaning."