“HOW WE DECIDE”
©2010 by Jonah Lehrer
How We Decide gets a thumbs-up for anyone facing a decision that pits the rational pros-and-cons-list method of decision-making against “But what I really want is….” Lehrer knows how to have a good time with the very serious premise that we often make the best decisions by letting emotion win out over reason, and he backs it up with plenty of easily digestible neuroscience.
He spins fascinating tales, from an edge-of-the-chair, nail-biter intro (“I was flying a Boeing 737 into Tokyo Narita Int’l Airport when the left engine caught on fire”) to vignettes that illustrate how (and how not) to pick the best quarterback in the NFL draft, the tastiest strawberry jam, the most lucrative briefcase on ‘Deal or No Deal,’ the life-savingest escape plan in a raging forest fire, the winningest poker hand, the bestest… well, you get the idea. Lehrer draws examples from a wild array of unlikely places to illustrate what goes on in the little gray cells each time we’re faced with a decision, no matter how large or small.
“I decided to write a book about decision-making,” says Lehrer, “because I couldn’t make a decision about Cheerios.” (Can anyone relate?) Bottom line – less thinking, more awareness of emotion, intuition and gut instinct is what makes for really good decisions, an idea supported by neuroleadership guru David Rock. “Human emotions [which are handled by the limbic system] are messy,” writes Rock in Your Brain At Work. “[Yet] moment-to-moment decisions involve more than just rational processes. Subtle choices need to be made, based on value judgments. Executing those value judgments, such as deciding if a breakfast cereal is good or bad, is one of the limbic system’s main functions.”
I keep How We Decide close at hand for quick reference, use it frequently in conversation, and I recommend it often.
How do you make your best decisions—brainpower or gut instinct?