Anthony Meindl is an award-winning writer, producer, director, actor and coach. He is immersed in the concepts of creativity. Those who do not perceive themselves to be “creative types” might well glance at the cover art and immediately conclude that Meindl’s new book, At Left Brain Turn Right, is about what they are not. But if they catch the book’s subtitle, An Uncommon Path to Shutting Up Your Inner Critic, Giving Fear the Finger and Having an Amazing Life, they might be intrigued enough to take a look inside.
Scrolling down the Table of Contents confirms that this isn’t a typical treatment of creativity. For some time now the subject of creativity has been the purview of self-help gurus who have offered numerous variations on the theme of creative thinking as a key to developing successful leadership and performance skills. In this genre, while the benefits of creative thinking and actions have included one’s personal development, it was the business application that mattered most — Meindl vigorously suggests otherwise.
The author’s acting experience clearly influences his writing style. He writes with flourish and dashes of drama and creates a strong page presence from start to finish. Meindl treats his book as a stage, life as a stage and our actions as those on a stage, suggesting that if we can’t play it, we fake it until we make it. While an initial perusal of the book might create the perception that is long on inspiring attitude and short on inspiring action, but that is not the case.
At the end of each chapter, the reader is given assignments and challenges to complete before proceeding further in the book. Meindl recommends allocating 15 weeks for this process to take place. Given many readers’ inclination to race through typical motivational and self-help books looking for quick fixes, this amount of time may seem to some to be unacceptable. After completing the book and the “homework” for week seven, I concluded that his recommendation is appropriate. This homework cannot be pencil whipped. It requires serious consideration and, of course, creative thinking. At the conclusion of week seven, for example, the reader is challenged to contemplate and write about “Who am I?,” “Why am I here?,” and “What is my purpose?.” I’ve encountered this same challenge in inspirational books before, but Meindl’s content charged this task with new energy and urgency. And for readers who want to go deeper the book offers them “25 more ways to get out of your own way in life.”
While the platitudes of many great creative thinkers, along with Meindl’s own worthy insights into the subject, inspire and motivate, it is the strong current of “do it, do it now” that runs through the book that is the most notable aspect of At Left Brain Turn Right. Numerous references to this mantra populate the books pages. For example, in Chapter 12, following a quote from W.L. Murray that concludes with the statement “Begin it now.” Meindl writes “He didn’t say think about it. He didn’t say question it and attempt it later. He didn’t say put it aside and ask for the opinions of other people. He didn’t say sleep on it and re-examine it tomorrow. He said do it. Now.” Appropriately, Chapter 12 is titled “Do It, Then Fix Later.”
I greatly enjoyed Anthony Meindl and his book, At Left Brain Turn Right. What he has to say is intellectual yet accessible. But be warned. Creativity is mercurial. It can be hard to navigate. The directive of “At Left Brain Turn Right” seems simple enough, but I still got lost before getting there; in my case, lost in the creative possibilities.
(Reviewed by Joseph Yurt for Reader Views)