Thursday, February 08, 2007

On being Lisa Nowak, female and male

If you haven't noticed, the world is not a ghetto. It's a silo. Silos help us to to tune out distractions, to keep our eye on the prize or goal, and drill down deeply into our areas of competence. All good stuff.

Now the bad. Although silos help us coordinate our skills and functions--the "human doing" part of our personality--with those of others to achieve amazing things, including a successful space shuttle, they prevent us from connecting from the "human being" inside us with that part within others. Left ignored it can cause people to do desperate things such as Lisa Nowak's reckless and wreckful journey.

Women face different stresses and face stress differently than men, for many reasons. One of the most important is that at their cores women are much better and often more motivated at connecting deeply with others in the service of closeness. Men connect with others more often in the service of achieving goals and objectives.

It is not just a whole host of different hormones at play here, but men's and women's brains are anatomically different. One of the main differences is that the connecting pathway between the left (logical) hemisphere and right (emotional) called the corpus callosum is significantly thicker in women than in men. That means that women's left and right brain are better connected than a man's. At its best, it makes women more understanding; at its worst, it makes them indecisive. At its best, it makes men more decisive; at its worst, it gets them locked into an "either or" myopia.

This means that women may become emotional about trivial matters for which they are ridiculed by men, but on the other hand they won't go to war as quickly as men, because they are more in touch with the grief than the anger of losing a child. Women know that retaliating against an enemy (as men are likely to do) will not bring back a dead child and will only prolong the misery.

In the end, men connect women to the world; women connect men to each other...and themselves. Men can provide a house, but only women can turn it into a home.

Can't we just get along?

No comments: