Executives are finding themselves under more and more pressure to make decisions quickly. The ability to remain flexible and adapt to situations as they arise is therefore highly valued by recruiters and business leaders. Decisions often need to be made at short notice and with a limited amount of information. How can we be confident of making the right decision in this rapidly accelerating world?
One highly effective method to ensure that every decision we make remains timely and relevant is to look at how the three ‘brains’ that exist inside our head, heart and gut can be trained to work together to produce a measured, committed and courageous decision. In other words, placing the mBraining approach at the centre of every decision we make.
Read how to overcome Workplace Challenges on decision making and how to become a stronger, more engaging leader
When all three of our brains are aligned, they combine their specialist functions of rational thought and idea generation (head), analysis of values, emotional reactions and connections to others (heart) and finally, self-preservation, courage and motivation to act (gut). This allows us to feel confident in our ability to cut through the chaos and stand by the integrity of every decision we make, both in our personal life and business career.
VUCA: Improving Decision Making In An Unstable World
Decision making, through rarely straightforward at any time, becomes harder to accomplish when it must happen in an unstable environment. Many, if not all organisations experience turbulent periods of positive and negative change when events happen unexpectedly and people are expected to react and decide upon next steps straight away.
During the immediate aftermath of the Cold War, the concept of ‘VUCA’ was coined by the US military to describe exactly this kind of rapid and unpredictable flux [Ref: http://usawc.libanswers.com/faq/84869].
VUCA stands for ‘Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity, and it sums up perfectly the loss of control and sense of being out of one’s depth that an unstable situation can evoke.
VUCA is just as relevant in the business world. Wider issues such as climate change, economic instability and political upheaval are causing concern worldwide and affecting commercial priorities and decisions. Reacting to current affairs as they unfold can cause a great deal of concern, both on a personal level and regarding how they might affect a business going forward. For instance, economic concerns causing delays to large infrastructure projects such as HS2 [Ref: https://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/worries-growing-of-delays-to-hs2-in-the-north-1-9333084] can lead to worries about unfulfilled contracts and financial pressures. Political hyperbole and media outlets with strong agendas to push can also confuse the issue in their attempts to appeal to our emotions and get us to join their side of the argument. Never has it been more important to counteract the ‘VUCA’ state of mind with vision, understanding, clarity and the ability to adapt and change [Ref: https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/spotting-opportunity/201707/how-thrive-in-vuca-world].
MBraining can help us make this change and tackle decision making with logic and intuition. If we align our head, heart and gut, we can tap into our emotions and intuition, or ‘gut instinct’ more readily, and use them to back up our head brain’s immediate reaction to a dilemma or decision. While some decisions are easy to make quickly, more complex issues need longer reflection and input from head, heart and gut. The mBraining process allows us to combine the rational problem-solving capabilities of your head brain and combine them with the slower processing, more intuitive brains of our heart and gut to create a solid base for clear, wise and often far safer decisions.
By listening carefully to our gut, we silence the surrounding extraneous noise and reduce some of the initial panic felt when faced with making a decision in a ‘VUCA’ environment. In other words, we can learn how to take the time to evaluate our reactions, apply logic and reason to them and check that our decision truly reflects who we want to be before calmly making the final call.
So, how do we stay calm and really listen to our head, heart and gut when it’s time to make a decision? It can be hard to align that stubborn instinct that something isn’t quite right when all the logic, facts and figures are screaming the opposite view. Sometimes, there are no facts and figures – or very limited ones, which is when tuning into your gut can be particularly invaluable.
This is when the ability to adapt and be flexible is crucial. Most of us aren’t used to actively taking our gut responses into account when making business decisions and it can take some getting used to. The quiet voice of our gut is not always easy to hear amidst the VUCA chaos.
Learning mBraining techniques that help us ‘unlock’ the prime functions of our gut brain will help increase the volume of its voice. The gut is all about courage, self-preservation and identity – understanding who we are, why we react to situations in a certain way, and why we make the decisions we do. Knowing how to unlock the neural networks to make lasting connections between your logical thinking (head) and your core identity (gut) will help you listen to your instincts and make firmer, more authentic decisions that you are fully happy with.
Three Brains; Three Approaches
The key thing to remember about mBraining is that all three of your brains – head, heart and gut must work together in congruence. Only then can a fully considered decision form. [Ref: https://www.peoplemanagement.co.uk/voices/comment/why-managers-should-use-three-brains-make-decisions?fbclid=IwAR35SAH0kSzfj1AIjeX5rUJca11azJ5i9SiMDSQtbvPAqPKiEwuaiaIZU84]. Moving into in an optimal state of neurological balance will allow you to feel neither too stressed, nor too relaxed to function correctly. What’s more, the three brains work together and there is an impact based on the order in which decisions are processed.
For leaders who inspire, the heart instinctively kicks off the process by offering a compassionate response that connects to others involved, directly or indirectly, in the situation. Then, the process moves to the head to define some sensible possibilities or opportunities. Adding the gut later in the process reinforces the decision, giving you the opportunity to ask yourself if it aligns with your sense of self-preservation and the so-called ‘courage of your convictions’.
Have A Go Yourself…
In practical terms, then, there are many ways that mBraining can help you learn how to use your gut to inform your decision making. Learning how to listen to its quiet voice requires a slowing down of pace. Try to tap into the natural rhythms of your body by gently breathing in and out, feeling your breaths come in slow, repetitive waves. This helps to calm the heart rate, refocus the mind and ensure that your body is taking in enough oxygen to function normally. It also lessens the sensations of panic or alarm that can block messages from the gut. Try inhaling and then exhaling for six seconds while sitting quietly. Repeat the process several times to establish a rhythm and allow your whole body to relax.
Now, try practising using your gut to help you make decisions. Think about a previous occasion when you had to be courageous about a chosen action. Close your eyes and imagine sending the courage and motivation that you experienced back right all around your body until they come to the very front of your mind and your memory.
Notice the deeper emotions that accompany the courage. Now, change your mind’s focus to the decision you’re currently facing. Imagine the emotions that your preferred course of action will inspire. Try to experience those emotions for yourself. Do you feel comfortable with them? Do they align with your core values? Are you completely happy with the decision you have come to, and its wider implications? Or can you think of ways to alter it so that it falls in line as completely as possible with your core identity and values?
Really listen to what your gut is telling you to gain the fullest picture from your three aligned brains. Once you have analysed all the sensations you have felt in this exercise, stand up, lightly stretch to reenergise your body and work out what you need to do to put your new decision into action.