How often do we regret not following our first instincts or, on the flipside, been rewarded when we have? Maybe it was a ‘feeling’ that a particular person couldn’t be trusted; perhaps a ‘split second decision’ led to a great opportunity; or you ‘followed your instincts’ and a tricky situation turned out okay.
Often our head paints a very different picture of a situation than our gut, particularly at 3am when figures and issues loom large.
The media is a good protagonist for messing with our heads. It will lift up a political leader one week then try and destroy them the next. Is it little wonder in this age of 24 hour sound bites that our leadership is always so fragile and that we as a population are so confused. I digress…
It’s important to go through the pros and cons before carefully making big decisions but it’s equally important to listen to our gut. Business guru Richard Branson says, “in the same way that I tend to make up my mind about people within 30 seconds of meeting them, I also make up my mind about whether a business proposal excites me within about 30 seconds of looking at it.
Our gut tells us that our carefully thought-through business plan… will see us through
“I rely far more on gut instinct than researching a huge amount of statistics.”
Mulling this over, I realise that my gut instincts have served me well.
A while back a situation had me tying myself in knots. My head was so filled with ‘what if’, that it drowned out my instincts, which to be honest, told me to stay true to the course, and ride it through.
But rather than trust that, I analysed and re-analysed. Then, for good measure, I over-analysed the re-analysis. When I finally listened to it, my gut told me again what it told me in the first place, that it would all be okay. And it was.
Paradoxically, it was because of all the preparation I’d done earlier – all the thought I’d given to my goals, my vision for how I wanted the business to look – that allowed me to ‘go with my gut’ when the time came. So was it head or heart? Was it preparation and planning or gut instinct? Bit of both, I’d suggest.
Our brains are a huge database of information – every patient consultation, every business meeting, every staff interaction, every personal decision; it’s all recorded there. And while we may not consciously download the data, it influences our intuition.
Gut is different from knee-jerk reaction though. If a competitor opens up across the road, knee-jerk tells you to slash prices/open earlier/spend more on advertising; anything to “compete”.
Our gut tells us that our carefully thought-through business plan, our great workplace culture, our extra offerings will see us through – sure, there might be some tweaking along the way – but we don’t have to hit the big red panic button.
Knee-jerk is always going to be reactive. Intuition, however, can be honed. That’s what happens in the planning and preparation phase. By making the many little decisions along the way that make up the bigger goal and purpose, we give our brains enough practice in decision making; enough information about our values and purpose; enough pieces of the puzzle to be able to “go with your gut”.