The Neuroscience of Decision Making Or ‘How do I know if this job is right for me?’

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Being a recruiter often requires coaching skills as we help candidates make a major life decision – changing job.   So how do you make the right decision?  Do you listen to your head, your heart, your gut, your partner, friend, recruiter – or all of them and feel thoroughly confused?!

Did you know that in the daily events of life and interactions with people, our senses are taking in about 11 million bits of information every second but our conscious brain can only process 40 bits per second – a small fraction of all that information.  This means that the analytical and rational brain (one of the main tools of the successful lawyer) may not be the best guide when it comes to making a decision about where you want to work.

Robert K. Cooper, a neuroscience pioneer and leadership advisor, writes in “The Other 90%” that,

“Intelligence is distributed throughout the body.  When it comes to brilliance or insight, we cannot separate the body from the mind.   Whenever you have a direct experience it does not go directly to the brain to be thought about.  The first place it goes is to the neurological networks of the intestinal tract and heart.”

The 11 million bits of information we take in every second have been sensed and interpreted by the gut, heart and other brain regions before it reaches the cortex.  So we actually “think” last rather than first.  

Antonio Damasio, a leading neuroscientist wrote: “We are not thinking machines that feel; rather we are feeling machines that think.“

In order to make the best decisions in our life we have to feel what matters.  As a lawyer, you undoubtedly have a good brain, but don’t forget your heart and your gut.   How do you feel about the firm, company and people you’ve met?   What was your gut feeling when you walked in the door? How did your body feel during the interview?

“Without the active involvement of the brains in the gut and the heart, if you try to think your way to a decision or solution, you’ll fall short of the best you can do” Robert Cooper.

Lipson Lloyd-Jones

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