Being decisive is an important leadership skill. It’s also good leadership to make that big decision tomorrow, rather than right now. Not only will you avoid impulsive decisions, you’ll also get input from your unconscious mind.

Martha Lagace interviewed Harvard Business School postdoctoral fellow Maarten Bos about unconscious thought and decision-making. He defines “unconscious thought as a goal-dependent, deliberative process in the absence of conscious attention. Most people attribute a lot of their actions to a conscious process, but there are scores of processes that operate unconsciously.”

The unconscious mind is powerful. Mine allows me to remember a name or fact only when I stop thinking about it. (I see your head nodding in agreement!)

Writing blogs often involves taking long breaks where I step away from the “great” thought I’ve captured and work on something else. It may seem that I make no progress on the blog during that time. Actually my unconscious mind is refining my ideas while I focus on something else. Sometimes I even find resolution to thorny problems in my dreams. (Rare, but it does happen!)

When you don’t think you’re thinking about the decision, your brain is still working on it without your awareness. So don’t buy that house today or hire that person you just interviewed. When a decision really matters, sleep on it, and engage more of your brain power.


Your unconscious and conscious minds agree. You should contact Humanergy to achieve insight about better decision-making.

Photo from iStockphoto.