Need a simple decision-making model that you can use in all kinds of situations? Use BRAINS
Last year I became a Dad for the first time. As any parent can attest to (and as any non-parent can probably imagine), childbirth is an intense experience. Not only does it involve bringing a new, tiny human into the world, but it can also involve making high-stakes, time-critical decisions in an unfamiliar, high-pressure environment.
In the heat of the moment, logic can go out of the window and emotions can take over. And that can lead to some bad decision-making in the delivery suite. Especially when it’s your first time and you haven’t got a clue what is going on.
My wife and I attended ante-natal classes to help us prepare for the big day. In between biology lessons and breathing exercises, we were taught a simple tool for making decisions in short time windows. Like so many mental frameworks, it comes in the form of a memorable mnemonic, BRAINS, which stands for:
- (Doing) Nothing
When faced with a dilemma, you evaluate your options by working through the framework step-by-step before deciding what course of action you want to take. I immediately saw that this could be a useful tool with applications for many situations unrelated to childbirth.
You can make the BRAINS model more actionable by bundling Doing Nothing in with step three when considering alternative courses of action. That allows you to use the fifth stage, N, for Next steps. So the modified version of the tool looks like this:
- Next steps
Now you have a simple decision-making model that can be easily recalled and used in a variety of situations.
You may be wondering why Smile is in there. Decision-making can be stressful, and acute stress impairs our reasoning. Smiling has been proven to reduce stress, which is welcome in itself, but it can also help us make better decisions.
A further benefit is that smiling helps us remain personable and avoid being rude to anyone else involved in the decisions we are making. Having grace under fire can prevent us from killing any goodwill working in our favor or burning any bridges with people such as professional colleagues or family members.
Good luck with your decision-making. Just remember to use your BRAINS.