top of page

“Head Only” Decision-Making VS. Discernment

"We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them." — Albert Einstein

Typically, when I talk with leaders about big business decisions they need to make, they are very quick to call up the sales data, point to the industry trends, look at their budget projections, and get really clear about what is or isn’t working in their current strategies.

Honestly, it's pretty awesome to watch. I am regularly amazed at the high levels of intelligence these men and women bring to their leadership. It’s rare that I come away from these encounters without learning some new, nuanced insight about strategic thinking.

But—like I wrote in my previous post—as alluring as it is, that style of “head only” leadership is just not cutting it anymore. It simply doesn't have the capacity to deal with the levels of complexity and challenge we’re facing in the world today. To find meaningful solutions to the problems we’re facing now, we need to make the shift from a “Head Only” Decision Making paradigm to a more wholistic Discernment Approach—one in which we engage more than just our head intelligence, but also our heart intelligence, our body intelligence, and the deep wells of wisdom available to us both in community, and in the more transpersonal dimensions of life that we might call spiritual intelligence.

Discernment is a more inclusive, more global way of making decisions. It requires a little slowing down, a little more spaciousness and room for reflection. But the pay off is Wisdom, which is “the ability to contemplate and act using knowledge, experience, understanding, common sense and insight.” In other words, using more than just your head to find the best way forward.

To help you get a sense of what the discernment process is like, I’ve created a simple exercise you can download below, and use with any real-world challenge you’re facing right now. Remember, while the process is simple and straightforward, this isn’t the kind of thing you can do in a rush, or when you’re pre-occupied with other distractions. To give it a fair shot, you’ll need to slow down, to get quiet, and to ease into a more open, reflective, and listening posture.


ACG Discernment Exercise S
Download PDF • 72KB

Like Einstein said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them." How prescient his words are for our times...and for our leadership. The world we live in now is no longer familiar to us in the ways it once was. To navigate it successfully, we have to let go of our familiar, well-worn approaches to leadership, and embark into a new and deeper understanding of what it means to lead—not just with our heads, but with our whole selves.

P.S. If you use the exercise, please let me know what you think!

74 views0 comments


bottom of page