Blood Sugar Levels. Making better decisions in the heat of the moment.   3


At work, we are precisely as good as the sum total of the decisions we make.

Unfortunately most of these decisions are influenced if not driven by a whole raft of factors, which we are generally unaware of. In this series of thought pieces I unveil a number of these influences and suggest how to make better choices in real time.


Blood Sugar Levels

It is helpful to realise that we are not as consistent as we would like to believe. Emotions play a large part in our thinking and decision-making, as does our physical state. Understanding emotions and what helps us to focus will improve the decisions you take and the results you produce.

A fantastic example of this was published in research* which looked at the different rates at which Israeli Judges granted parole to prisoners throughout the day.

By any standards, Israeli Parole Judges are considered somber, consistent paragons of consistent decision taking. However, parole rates varied from around 65% at the start of a session to an average of 5% before each break. On average 1 in 3 prisoners were released, but these odds could double or more-or-less vanish entirely depending on how tired and hungry the Judges happened to be.

This is an astonishingly stark example of how we tend to think of ourselves as taking decisions based on expertise build up over years of working in our particular field, but in reality, our decision making is influenced by external factors to a far greater degree than we would tend to admit. What’s more, our decisions if anything get more inconsistent the more “expert” we become, as we tend to become more confident in our abilities and thus to compare decisions less.

We are now beginning to understand how emotions and fatigue in particular affect our thinking. A better understanding and Intelligent Emotions will improve the decisions you take and will help you to be more effective.


Taking more consistent decisions

 I wouldn’t presume to tell you how to manage your own blood sugar levels, other than to say it’s worth thinking about!

What might be sensible though is to spend a minute thinking about how you feel and writing down what your mood is before you go in to significant meetings. Keep in mind that unchecked, this mood will impact upon the input you make, how receptive you are and your decisions.

For big decisions it may be worth postponing them where possible so that you can sleep on things in order to review your thinking the next day.

Finally I would say consider giving more weight to the importance of breaks and sleep in particular. There seems to be a sunami of research taking place showing that how long and how effectively we sleep is positively correlated to cognitive performance and long term health.


Executive Coaching  

An Executive Coach works with high performers to explore the assumptions and drivers hidden beneath our thinking. This helps us make better decisions in the moment, improving performance and making work more rewarding in every way.


* ”Extraneous factors in judicial decisions” 2011: Shai Danzigera, Jonathan Levav, and Liora Avnaim-Pessoa