Last December I was waiting to board a plane. While I was waiting near my gate a couple with two young children were standing near one of these little airport stores. This store had a rack with those soft, bright colored, and puffy travel pillows. Those pillows caught the eyes of one of the children, a two-year-old. Within seconds the child was of course near the display with an “I WANT that” in her eyes. The next second she had one of those pillows – a nice blue one – in her hand and put part of it in her mouth.

As the parents were in a lively discussion they didn’t notice but their other child – a nice six-year-old girl- did. She ran over to her little sister and told her “No, you SHOULDN’T do that.” She took the part of the pillow that the two-year-old wasn’t holding and a small tug war started. The older sister won and she put the pillow back. But do you think that the two-year-old gave up?

The little tug war went on and on. It only ended when one of the parents intervened and started distracting the two-year-old with something else. (I must admit that it took the parent quite some time because the little girl really wanted the pillow). Maybe you would have done something different than this parent decided to do. Maybe you would have bought the pillow. But the most important thing was that the parents made a decision.

This kind of scene – a tug war between “I WANT” and “YOU SHOULD” and a possible INTERVENTION – happens often in your brain. The part of the brain that intervenes and ends a tug war is called the Executive. The Executive is the rescuer, the adult part of your brain. It is the part of your brain that allows you to make choices.

But your Executive has a number of functions, not only decision-making. Other functions are planning, organizing, motivating, and handling your emotions. These are all crucial functions for leadership. So, you better take good care of that part of the brain.


Well, your Executive doesn’t perform well when you are stressed; having a need for food or needing some hours of sleep.

A simple recipe: enough sleep, food and no stress.

That’s your recipe for great decision making, planning, organizing, and handling your emotions.