The Biology of making decisions

facebooktwitterlinkedinby featherI recently was examined by a General Surgeon. During the very brief meeting, no more than 10 minutes, the surgeon verified that I needed to have my hernia repaired. The emotions began running hot when the Doctor said he did not recommend Laparoscopic surgery. (I equated laparoscopic with less pain). He favored a direct repair mumbling some statistical research numbers about reoccurrence which I couldn’t catch. My gut said to find the nearest exit. Not because I had reason to doubt the Surgeon, which I didn’t. I felt that the way I was being communicated with didn’t give me a warm and fuzzy feeling. Still I rationalized and made a decision to move ahead with the operation, when I was told this was a two day recovery and no intubation for anesthesia was necessary.

Then the day of reckoning came. Right before the surgery the anesthesiologist presented himself and started measuring my throat. I guess he didn’t get the message from the Surgeon. It was intubation or face potential complications my choice.

Recovery was not two days as the Doctor promised. It was closer to two weeks of extreme pain. And yes my throat was really sore.

Let’s dial back the clock and dream up my fantasy surgeon, Doctor Caring.

First, Doctor Caring would have  organized  key terms for me so I could communicate.

Second, Doctor Caring would have helped me to  understand  these terms, including best practices..

Third, Doctor Caring would have given me the necessary tools to make the right decision  for me.

He would be asking more warm and fuzzy feeling questions like,  How do you feel about this choice?  What is most important to you Mr. Blackman?   I would have been given choices, encouraged to ask questions and made to feel like I was part of the decision process. Dr. Caring would have worked harder to discover my perspective.

There is a corresponding biology to our “gut  feeling and it is not in our stomach. It is actually in the limbic system of our brain.

The Limbic brain controls our feelings, decisions, trust, and has no capacity for language. It is this disconnection that makes putting our feelings into words so hard.   Try putting into words why we love someone, or trying to verbalize why we love a beautiful piece of music.

“Our limbic brains are smart and often know the right thing to do. It is our inability to verbalize the reasons that may cause us to doubt ourselves or trust the empirical evidence when our gut tells us not to.  Simon Sinek author of  Start With Why.

Lesson learned. Trust my gut. Of course the problem with trusting your gut doesn’t quite work when it comes to money. Unless of course there is a process to give your gut a voice. Check out our audio pod cast with David E. Adler, Author of  Snap Judgment, When to trust your instincts, when to ignore them and how to avoid making big mistakes with your money. That’s why it is critical that we be given a process to move our Limbic emotions to the logical Neocortex. Having the right language is the key.

In the end, I discovered that my decision needed to be based on  not how technically gifted he was, but how much he really cared. If I only had the words to express my Limbic during the exam.

P.S.   It is 5 weeks since surgery. I’m writing, coaching, swimming, and dancing. I’m feeling good.

Written by Jaimie Blackman

Jaimie Blackman

Jaimie Blackman — a former music educator & retailer— is a Certified Wealth Strategist & Succession Planner. Jaimie helps business owners maximize the value of their company through education & coaching. He is a frequent speaker at the National Association of Music Merchants, (NAMM) Idea Center and has spoken at Yamaha’s succession advantage.

As a financial literacy educator he has taught at New York University and has lectured at the 92nd Street Y, Marymount Manhattan College and CUNY.

His column is published in The Music & Sound Retailer and contributes to NAMM U online, as well as other industry trade magazines.

Jaimie is CEO of Jaimie Blackman & Company, President of BH Wealth Management, and Creator of MoneyCapsules® and the Sound of Money®.

To register for Jaimie’s live webinars, or to subscribe to his podcasts, visit

The purpose of this post is to educate. Our content should not be construed as advice. If legal, tax or other advice is required by the readers, professional advice should be sought.

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