Another perspective on intelligence and thinking skills comes from Benziger. Her research suggests that the rational brain, the cerebrum, is divided into 4 main areas, each of which ‘specializes’ in a particular type of thinking. They are:

  • prioritizing:
    • setting and achieving goals
    • engaging in deductive and inductive reasoning
    • analysing data
    • setting personal boundaries
    • managing and observing deadlines
    • willpower
  • maintaining
    • following routines accurately
    • observing rituals and traditions
    • abiding by the rules
    • conserving what you have
    • providing services to society and others
    • looking after yourself
  • visualizing
    • envisioning and anticipating change
    • identifying patterns and trends
    • daydreaming
    • seeing the big picture
    • enjoying spontaneity
  • harmonizing
    • connecting with others
    • processing spiritual experiences
    • recognizing faces
    • evaluating emotional events
    • pursuing harmony in all areas – sound, colours, flavours, people, nature

energiesBased on the unique wiring of our brains, we each have a preferred or dominant thinking style. This preferred style requires the least energy and you will feel most comfortable when it is being used. PET (Positron Emission Tomography) scans have revealed that the brain has higher needs for oxygen, glucose and micronutrients and requires a longer recovery time when engaging in thinking that does not match its preferred style. In fact, if your work requires you to use one of your non-preferred thinking styles for too long you can suffer from Prolonged Adaption Stress Syndrome (PASS), the symptoms of which include:[1]

  • Fatigue
  • Hyper-vigilance
  • Immune system alterations
  • Memory impairment
  • Altered brain chemistry
  • Diminished frontal lobe functions
  • Discouragement and or depression
  • Self-esteem problems

So playing to your mental strengths will not only make you more effective, it will also make you healthier and happier. To find your brain’s ‘bent’ consider some of these questions in relation to specific activities:[2]


To what extent do you:

  • dread the activity because of how it made you feel in the past
  • try to delegate it
  • procrastinate
  • look forward to it
  • feel a tingle of anticipation about it
  • pass on other enjoyable activities so that you can do it

During the Activity

To what extent do you:

  • try and finish it as quickly as you can
  • look at your watch often and feel time dragging
  • find excuses to stop
  • drink more coffee, check your email, eat snacks
  • need to keep reminding yourself of why should continue
  • feel excited or energized within a few minutes of starting
  • lose yourself in the activity
  • feel in the ‘flow’ (more on this shortly)
  • go beyond what is actually necessary

Post Activity

To what extent do you:

  • feel relief that it is over
  • feel physically drained
  • recall it with a sense of pleasure
  • have renewed energy
  • look forward to doing it again
  • seek ways to improve your capabilities

How you answered these questions should give you a greater understanding of the types of activities that require most and least energy for you. What would you write in each column below for yourself?

energy table

Do you see any connections that suggest that a particular thinking style is being used? What can you do to increase the proportion of your time devoted to activities that are in tune with your preferred thinking style?

[1] The Physiological Foundations of Falsification of Type and PASS by Benziger & Taylor

[2] For a more thorough examination, consider Taylor’s Energy-Assessment Tool, available in: Your Brain Has a Bent – Not a Dent by Taylor & Brewer.