We think with our hearts and guts as well as our heads, but the heart and gut brains complement the head brain in areas such as sorting information and strategizing.
The brain in your heart and gut matter. This fact doesn’t diminish the importance of the brain in your head. The head brain has 86 billion neurons, the cells that process and transmit information. It’s where synapses, electrical impulses, and hormones talk to each other, which is what allows for consciousness and awareness. Most important, it’s what gives us the ability to identify patterns and make sense of the world.
In business, the head brain is what helps leaders craft strategies to rise to the top. "Winning and losing can’t be quantified. They are states of mind, and losing happens only when you give up," wrote Jack Welch, the former CEO of GE in his book, Winning: The Answers: Confronting 74 of the Toughest Questions.
This doggedness is the head brain talking. It’s what turned Bill Gates’s vision in the early 1980s to design the intelligence of all household computers into a reality. For example, when he worked on an operating system for IBM, he insisted that he and Microsoft retain the copyright to the program, since he knew that other computer makers would want to copy it or use it. The MS-DOS operating system Gates created would become the pillar of Microsoft's empire.
Jeff Bezos is another example. His start was in computers. He identified patterns and trends in the way people were beginning to use the internet. Through his observations, he recognized the potential for an online bookseller.
After identifying more patterns about the way people shopped for books online, he saw the possibility of turning Amazon into one of the largest retailers in the world. Despite losing money every quarter, year after year, his head brain provided him with the fortitude to stay confident in the plan he charted.
Amazon and Microsoft have one glaring shortcoming: they don’t take into account the brains in the heart and gut. Through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Bill Gates has helped solve some of the world’s outstanding health and education problems. But just imagine how the company may have benefited had Gates decided to incorporate the foundation into the business. So, as I said, the head brain is great at processing information – but the heart brain injects feeling into that process.
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