Welcome to the More Than Sound podcast. In this episode, Daniel Goleman talks with Anthony Gell, of Leaders In, about the inner workings of our decision making process.
Anthony Gell- Everybody out there in the world has decisions to be made. And whether you’re managing yourself or whether you’re a subordinate and just managing your own day you’re still making decisions. All the way through to vc guys or ceos making massive multi billion pound decisions. Do you have any advice? In your book, The Brain And Emotional Intelligence, you talk about the neocortex and the subcortex. No matter how big the idea be, should you be making the decision with the gut? What’s your advice?
Daniel Goleman- My advice is both, actually. There’s some interesting data on that. There was a study done of California entrepreneurs who built businesses from nothing, into huge amounts. And they’re asked, “How do you make your decisions?” And they all said essentially the same thing. They were voracious gatherers of data. They had very broad nets, things that other people wouldn’t think might be relevant. They delve into the numbers, they look into everything, and then they’d check it against their gut feeling. And what that means is that the first swipe is cortical: the part of the brain that thinks in words and numbers. And then you check that against your gut feeling and the reason that’s a good idea is this:
There’s a primitive part of the brain, it’s actually in the brainstem, that as we go through life, gathers decision roles. “When I did that, that worked well. When I said that, that really didn’t work.” And as we face a decision point it summates your life experience relevant to the topic, and it sends you a message. The problem is it has no connection to the part of the brain that thinks in words. It sends the message to the gut. The GI tract. So when you say trust your gut, it’s actually literally true. Because you get a felt sense. Feels right. Doesn’t feel right. And all the entrepreneurs said “I check it against that. Even if the numbers look good. If it didn’t feel right I wouldn’t go ahead.”