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Dear <<First Name>>,

I hope your summer is filled with opportunities to soak in the warmth and energy of nature, garden, , travel, strengthen your bodies and expand your minds.

Each summer, Steve and I take a cycling trip.  For us, cycling is the best combination of travel,  nature and exercise.  I do some of my most productive thinking on a bike. Each year we create a “hub” bike tour along rail tails that follow a maximum 2% grade. This makes it easier for us to ride longer and farther and the path usually follows a river or lakeshore!  As a Pisces, I love to be near the energy and cool breeze of water!

This year we returned to Northern Michigan to check out some new trails.  At dinner one night, a very friendly waitress suggested a beautiful route around Lake Charlevoix.  I fell in love with the idea. I casually mapped it out on google maps and figured we would finalize the details later for our 22 mile route starting in Boyne City.

It is a beautiful location like most every spot along the 45th parallel; some rolling hills, reasonable traffic with storm clouds and winds blowing overhead but no raindrops.  We made it to the ferry and crossed over to a nice restaurant.  We both had some concerns about the return route which would take us along the south arm of the lake, promising to be equally as beautiful and relatively safe. 

The return path along M66 was downhill; rolling hills downhill, busy traffic, a lot of large trucks traveling over the speed limit, narrow shoulder……….by the time we got to the bottom, I was safe, but shaken. I sat down on a picnic bench and refused to go further.  This town was too small for Uber or cabs. We walked to a coffee shop and started to ask questions. It started to rain. We had another 10 miles to go to get back to our car.  This was a far greater risk than I had expected.  How could I have neglected to assess the risk associated with this the route?

This was so uncharacteristic of me.  I am very cautious. I am risk averse in my financial investments, I purchased one of the safest vehicles made (The Subaru Forester stops before it hits the wall in a crash tests!)  My mother taught me to be fearful and I dutifully passed that on to my children as a good parent. Where did my decision making process fail?

According to Grant Soosalu &  Marvin Oka, co-authors of mBraining, Using your Multiple Brains to Do Cool Stuff, we actually have three brains: Head, heart and gut.  Here is a modified version of the decision making process they recommend so that each choice is informed by each of the three brains we have to work with.
  1. Gather and review all of the data before you go to sleep. Check in with your three brains and assign them the task of organizing and analyzing the information while you are in a dream state.
  2. When you wake up, have a glass of clear, room temperature water but no food or stimulants like coffee or tea.
  3. Sit quietly and ask your heart, head and gut for insights and intuition about the situation.
  4. Eat a small meal to avoid low blood sugar, a state where we are more likely to agree to riskier options.
  5. Follow the Balanced Breathing technique.
  6. Find a solution that honors the messages of all three brains! Make a decision and go for it!
Clearly, I did not intentionally align my three brains on the morning of or night before the trip!
I had not gathered all the information I needed about the roads.  I went against my usual rule of sticking to trails dedicated to cycling. My heart was infatuated with the beautiful experience of riding around the lakes. I totally disregarded my gut and went along with my partner who is much more comfortable with risk and thought the downhill ride was exhilarating. 

The end of the story……I walked over to a restaurant and asked a woman cleaning the front door windows if she had any ideas how we could get to Boyne city. ( I felt like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz!) She replied, “There is a local shuttle that I take to work every day.  Here is the phone number!”  Luckily, the shuttle was only a few minutes away and for $8, they were able to load our bikes and take us to Boyne City in no time.  The road we would have traveled in the rain was falling apart on the edges with no shoulder and would have been very risky to ride on.

What decisions do you have to make in your life?  How could you employ this method to make the best decision for everyone involved by gathering all the necessary information, honoring your heart and listening to your gut, intentionally!

Tell me your stories about making decisions and taking risks!

Have a wonderful summer!  


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Jennifer Seaver Stokes is a Creator of Maximal Opportunities for Mutual Growth through her coaching practice @  Tuned In Coaching. She helps individuals, couples and groups connect with their inner genius through strengths discovery and energy mastery. This  partnership, created through the coaching process, empowers clients to leverage internal assets for external success.

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