Decisions Are an Inner Game

Decisions Are an Inner Game

Decisions Are an Inner Game

Article published on LinkedIn by Sandra Jitianu

A leader’s life has not grown easier over the past roller-coaster year: pressure on results is still there despite the growing ambiguity, disruption in how we interact socially and the resultant soaring levels of anxiety. They need to constantly think how to adapt ways of working, how to redefine processes to keep up the pace and how to integrate the new tools that promise increases in productivity. The disruption in social interaction has driven down the level of trust, team vibe has withered, people no longer learn from each other the way they did before.

How are you as a leader supposed to weather these unwelcome variations while keeping calm and wise? How can you increase your odds for making good decisions? Turns out that what happens out there is only half of the story. The story we tell ourselves about it and how we react is the other half and it very much predicts how good our decisions are going to be.

When getting angry over a situation how often did it happen that your emotions got carried over to the next situation you were involved in, causing you to overreact? Have you noticed we usually see more optimistic prospects when we are in a good mood and vice-versa? Judgement is often impacted by mood and many psychological scientists now assume that emotions are the dominant driver of most meaningful decisions in life.

Fact is, emotions shape decisions, as a team of researchers from Harvard and three other prestigious universities[1] summed up 35 years of work on emotions and decision making.

What if you could voluntarily activate or reduce your affective, mental, and behavioral responses in order to pursue a goal? This is what self-regulation is all about. It puts you in the driver seat. And self-regulation is a learnable process.

The good news is that self-regulation is a learnable process.

One way to achieve this skill is to train your positive mental ‘muscles’ and then activate them before taking a difficult decision. Think of athletes getting ready for a workout or competition: they will always warm up their muscles before that. It works for mental muscles, too. People will typically react from the part of the brain that is more ‘fired up’ at that point. When encountering a stressful situation once those positive neural connections are activated there is a bigger probability that we will act from a place of clarity and wisdom.

How to ‘warm up’ our mind and regulate our reactions to respond to challenges in a clear-headed and balanced way? This is what Shirzad Chamine, a New York Times bestselling author, researcher and Stanford University lecturer has been studying for the past 20 years. His internationally acclaimed Positive Intelligence program has helped thousands of CEOs and world-class athletes improve their results, deal with their mental criticism, and have better relationships.

As graduates of the 1st coach cohort trained by S. Chamine, together with Matei Stănculescu we made the program available in Romanian, adding new tools to serve the specific needs of leaders. 50 people from business and creative backgrounds have gone through our program so far and we have just launched a new cohort with participants in Germany, France and the UK.

To learn how to work with well disguised mental saboteurs and replace unwanted automatic reactions with a focused frame of mind check out our tech-enabled 7-week program on Mental Fitness Romania.


[1] Emotion and Decision Making, Jennifer S. Lerner, Ye Li, Piercarlo Valdesolo, Karim S. Kassam, Annual Review of Psychology 2015 66:1, 799-823

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