decision makingDecisions! We all make them every day. And while we do make them frequently, often we wonder if we made the right one or search for new ways to decide. Do we apply our intuition to our decision making, or is that a bad idea? What approach should we use? I want to tell you about a surprising, scientifically backed approach that might give you more confidence in the decisions you make.

Here is that surprising approach to decision making:  Flip a coin.

The coin flip is used to help us test our gut feel or our intuition. All the while you have been pondering a decision consciously, looking at the data, doing pros and cons lists, and perhaps talking to others, your subconscious has been at work too.  And your powerful subconscious has data and experience that our conscious, rational brain may not be accessing or valuing – it is the message of the subconscious that the coin flip may help us access.

If your rational conscious brain is torn between the choice, stymied and unable to decide, pick up a coin.  Ask yourself the critical question that your decision revolves around, assign the decision to the heads and tails of your coin … and then … flip.

If, after the flip, you seem pleased or relieved with the result, go for it.  But if after the flip, you immediately think, “maybe I should go best two out of three” or you question the validity of a coin flip for such a decision, perhaps you should pick the other choice. Either way, the coin flip is a test of your “gut feeling.”

I said this approach was based in science, and it is – but rather than dive into the inner workings of your brain – let’s just say this: our subconscious brains can access our feelings in tangible ways.  When we flip the coin, one of two things happens:

  • Our conscious (the flip) and subconscious minds (our intuition) agree, and our brain gives off a reward response. It isn’t just logic, but it actually feels good.
  • Our conscious and subconscious minds disagree, and our brains send us a threat response – so our gut doesn’t feel so good – even if you can’t explain it.

Intuition, of course is best when it is based on lots of experience. Friederike Fabritius and Hans Hagemann write in The Leading Brain: Neuroscience Hacks to Work Smarter, Better, and Happier, “Although there’s a common misconception that intuitive decisions are random and signify a lack of skill, the exact opposite is true. Intuitive decisions are often the product of years of experience and thousands of hours of practice. They represent the most efficient use of your accumulated experience.”

Decision making, especially in business, is dominated by the logical, the rational and the data.  Of course, all of that matters and should be considered. But denying your intuition is the experts say is “most efficient use of your accumulated experience” doesn’t make sense either.

The next time you are deliberating over a decision and your options seems about equal, access your intuition with a coin flip.  You have nothing to lose, and perhaps significant insight – and better decisions – to gain.


Two free webinars, both meant to help remote teams and teammates be more effective. Which one to attend? You can flip a coin, or, if appropriate for you, attend both! Details and registrations can be found here.

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Kevin Eikenberry is a recognized world expert on leadership development and learning and is the Chief Potential Officer of The Kevin Eikenberry Group ( He has spent nearly 30 years helping organizations across North America, and leaders from around the world, on leadership, learning, teams and teamwork, communication and more.
Twice he has been named by as one of the top 100 Leadership and Management Experts in the World and has been included in many other similar lists.

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