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The lazy brain

If there is one single rule of neuroscience that should influence your understanding both of yourself and of your team, it is this. Your brain seeks to follow the most efficient and least resource-intensive route possible. In fact, although it could certainly be characterized as an awe-inspiring calculation machine, your brain could also be viewed as a bit of a couch potato. It consumes an inordinate amount of your body’s energy and tries to get away with doing as little work as possible.

The conscious stuff we do is undoubtedly the most advanced. The cortex and specifically the prefrontal cortex are what distinguish us from most of the animal world. Unfortunately, it is also what makes us inefficient as creatures. No one is advocating that we revert back to the thinking patterns and procedures of our ancestors. But when the opportunity arises to tap into the more powerful and energy efficient aspects of our brain, we should take advantage of it.

In three key and somewhat related types of thinking – intuitive decisionmaking, aha moments, and overall creative thinking – our prefrontal cortex takes a back seat to other regions of the brain and consciousness gives way to unconsciousness. When it comes to pleasing both your peak performing self as well as your lazy brain, unconscious thinking is often the best course of action.