When people come to me seeking advice about an important decision, I often ask: "Who's steering your ship?"
What I'm really wondering is: are you leading with the right brain or the left brain?
The science behind this is quite complex, but here's the gist for our purposes: Our right brain is the home of creativity, intuition, music, and the present moment. The left supports analytical and critical thinking, separateness, language, math, and past/future.
For all you Star Trek fans, I like to call these two sides of the brain Captain Kirk (right brain) and Mr. Spock (left brain). There is a scene in the most recent Star Trek movie which epitomizes this. I felt like I was watching the Right and Left sides of the brain having a conversation.
Spock leads from the left side of his brain. He is always analyzing data, predicting outcomes, then handing them over to Captain Kirk. In contrast, Captain Kirk, a hot young thing without much life experience, leads from his right brain.
He's making decisions from his intuition, from a raw feeling in his gut. At one point in their argument, Spock says, “I don’t understand why you are doing this? I think it will fail.” and Captain Kirk says, “I can’t give you a reason. I just know it’s right in my gut.”
Ultimately, we want Captain Kirk to be steer our ship. We want to listen to the limbic part of the brain, that part that tells us “it just feels right.” That’s the voice of our intuition. However in order to follow intuition, we have to be able to hear it. The best way to turn up the volume of our intuition and turn down the volume of fear is through meditation.
When we start to de-excite our nervous system, we allow ourselves to release stress and connect to things greater than ourselves. We start seeing things from a place of connectedness rather than a place of stress. By getting to the meditation chair everyday, the voice of our own internal Captain Kirk will get louder until it's dominant in our decision making process.
Now it doesn’t mean that the data is irrelevant. It doesn’t mean that we don’t pay attention to it. We absolutely do. We let Spock give us the information, but then we let Captain Kirk make the final call. Even if it doesn’t make sense all the time. This is something we can practice by consciously integrating it into our decision-making.
So next time you are faced with a big decision try these 3 steps:
1. Stop, take a breath. Remind yourself that this one decision can not make you or break you.
2. Look at the data. Spend a few moments analyzing the probability of different outcomes.
3. Ask yourself, "What do I want to do?" What is the thing that will bring the highest good for me and for everyone around me. Do that.
The more we practice this, the more our intuition will become the Captain of the decision-making ship.